Question: My husband has had two back surgeries were unsuccessful and he is in constant pain. Is his pain a factor that is considered in his Social Security disability claim?
A: Rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration provide that pain must be considered in evaluating whether or not a person is disabled. The Regulation states:
“In determining whether you are disabled, we consider all your symptoms, including pain, and the extent to which your symptoms can reasonably be accepted as consistent with the objective medical evidence and other evidence. By objective medical evidence, we mean medical signs and laboratory findings as defined in Sections 404.1528(b) and (c).”
The Regulations further state, however, that statements about a person’s pain or other symptoms will not alone establish that they are disabled. There must be medical signs and laboratory findings which show you to have a medical impairment which could reasonably be expected to produce the pain or symptoms that you claim.
Assuming that the medical records establish a medically determinable impairment which could reasonably be expected to produce the symptoms of pain that you claim, the Judge must then determine the level of pain you have.
For instance, if the pain that your husband suffers is only mild or moderate pain, then he generally is considered able to work. If, on the other hand, your husband has pain which is at the moderately severe or severe level, then he generally is not able to work. Pain at this higher level makes it difficult for a person to focus or concentrate on their work, and it may also involve the individual having to constantly shift or move around to try to obtain relief from the pain.
Many physicians often ask their patients to rate the pain level on a scale from 1 to 10. For instance, pain at the level of 2 or 3 would normally be considered slight or mild pain, and pain at the 7 or 8 level would typically be considered moderately severe or severe pain. Judges and attorneys in Social Security disability hearings will often ask the patient to rate his pain on the “1 to 10” scale.