Chronic Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits
SSA relies on special rules in evaluating chronic pain. SSA’s position is that chronic pain is a symptom and no symptom or combination of symptoms can be the basis for a finding of disability, no matter how genuine the individual’s complaints may appear to be, unless there are medical signs and laboratory findings demonstrating the existence of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that could reasonably be expected to produce the symptoms. In summary, an individual cannot merely allege chronic pain and hope to receive disability benefits. Chronic pain is a symptom and there must exist an underlying medically determinable impairment (MDI) based on objective medical findings before an award of benefits can be made. An individual seeking disability benefits based on chronic pain should consult with a representative or attorney who is familiar with SSA’s special rules regarding chronic pain.