6 Things the Social Security Administration Will Consider Regarding Back Pain and Disability

Chronic back pain may qualify you for disability benefits from Social Security.Many people apply for disability benefits for back pain. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons our clients apply. Many conditions can contribute to back pain—degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, arthritis, obesity, fibromyalgia, and more. Regardless of your condition, there are several factors that the Social Security Administration will take into consideration when evaluating your application for benefits.

1. Objective Evidence

The SSA will consider any testing performed by your doctors. For example, X-Rays and MRIs are often very helpful in determining the severity of degenerative disc disease. These tests can also help determine whether or not you have spinal stenosis or nerve root compression. In cases involving degenerative disc disease and bulging discs, MRIs can be most helpful in determining the objective severity of the condition producing your back pain.

2. Clinical Observations

During your visits, doctors record clinical observations in their treatment notes. Doctors are trained to observe certain clinical signs, such as weakness, loss of sensation, tenderness, and swelling. SSA will look closely at the observations of all the physicians who have examined you to help corroborate your allegations of back pain.

3. Specialist Treatment

SSA will consider the opinions and treatment notes of all the doctors you have visited. But they will pay particular attention to the opinions and treatment notes of specialists. For example, your primary care doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist, or a pain management physician to treat your back pain.

4. Opinion Evidence

Sometimes, your own doctors will offer an opinion about your capabilities and disabilities. These opinions may be contained in a letter from your doctor. The may also be contained in forms provided to your doctor by the SSA or your attorney. The SSA will consider each of these opinions, and will assign more weight to opinions that are consistent with the objective evidence and clinical observations also contained in your file.

5. Reaction to Treatment

The SSA will consider whether or not the treatment you received has been beneficial to you. Your back pain may have been treated by pain medication, surgery, injections, or spinal cord stimulators. Hopefully, these treatments are successful. However, sometimes they are unsuccessful. In the return visits to your doctor, the SSA will look to see if the methods used have been successful at improving your back pain and dysfunction.

6. Subjective Symptoms

The SSA will consider your subjective symptoms, such as pain, in determining whether or not you are disabled. The SSA will consider your statements regarding how you are limited due to back pain. For example, you may have difficulty standing or sitting for long periods, or you may have difficulty lifting weight repetitively. You may require a cane to stand and walk. All your subjective statements will be compared to your medical records to determine if they could be reasonably expected to occur from the conditions with which you have been diagnosed.

Let the Disability Attorneys of Keller & Keller Help You With Your Social Security Claim

Whether you’re filing an initial application or seeking disability benefits through the appeals process, our experienced Social Security disability attorneys are here to help you get the benefits you need. Call 317-452-7788 or toll-free at 800-253-5537 today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller
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