Medical Conditions

If you are basing your claim for Social Security disability benefits on chronic pain as your impairment then the Social Security Administration will require you to provide a combination of both objective and subjective evidence of your disability.

The subjective evidence will come primarily from your own testimony about the intensity and effect of your pain.

However, the objective evidence will come from medical records and the reports of doctors and other medical and physical care providers.

Evidence that could be in your doctor’s report about your chronic pain

The objective evidence about how your pain limits your ability to function is the medical evidence. The main source of this evidence is the report from your doctor. There is no good way to objectively measure pain, but your doctor’s observations of your symptoms can show that your symptoms are the kinds of things that can be expected to follow from the objective evidence of your medical condition.

Some of the things that your doctor’s report might cover are:

  • Factors that indicate that your symptoms are consistent with the objective evidence.
  • Reasons that the doctor believes that you are not malingering.
  • Whether the doctor has seen other people with similar objective evidence who have had similar symptoms.
  • The range of symptoms that are consistent with this objective evidence.
  • Other indications that your description of your symptoms is believable.
  • Whether or not you are suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental impairment that could enhance your symptoms.

One of the most common disabilities claimed are back injuries.  Back pain and movement problems may be caused by a number of disorders including:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Degenerative disc disease (DDD)
  • Herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) or herniated disc
  • Osteoporosis
  • Trauma
  • Tumor
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Lumbar strain
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Kyphosis
  • Osteomyelitis

Some people may have structural problems in the spine that limit function (i.e., walking, bending, stooping, etc.). But question of disability usually depends on how much your chronic pain interferes with your ability to function (i.e., walk, bend, stoop, twist, lift, etc.). Massachusetts Social Security disability lawyerThe great majority of individuals—more than 80%—who have acute low back pain from a strain of the ligaments and other soft-tissue supportive structures of the spine will recover within several months, even if they receive no treatment. Other individuals have a more chronic problem.

How Does the Social Security Administration Decide if I Qualify for Disability Benefits for Back Pain or Spine Impairments?

If you have a spine disorder that limits movement or causes chronic back pain, Social Security disability benefits may be available. To determine whether you are disabled by your back pain, or other spinal problems, the Social Security Administration first considers whether your back problems are severe enough to meet or equal a listing at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process.  If you meet or equal a listing because of back pain or other spine disorders, you are considered disabled. If your back problems are not severe enough to equal or meet a listing, Social Security Administration must assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) (the work you can still do, despite your back), to determine whether you qualify for benefits at Step 4 and Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process.

Consider getting help with your Social Security disability claim from a disability lawyer

Social Security claimants who have questions about how their pain affects their eligibility for Social Security disability benefits should consider checking with an experienced disability lawyer.

If you are not already represented by a Social Security disability lawyer, contact me for an evaluation of your case. You may email my office, or fill out the form to the right.

Terrence L. Parker
Parker Law Offices
Social Security disability lawyer


If it wasn't for Attorney Parker, I don't know what I would have done! He is so knowledgeable and guided me through each step of the process. He got my benefits quickly. If you’re applying for your benefits, he's the one to call.
C. Jones, Boston, Mass.

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