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The role of pain in your Social Security Disability claim

Pain is a huge factor in many different medical conditions. For some people, it may be the number one symptom they try to treat or relieve. Yet, not every medical condition that leads to pain is easy to detect. In the past, that's often proven problematic for people with disorders like fibromyalgia or chronic daily migraines because they're conditions that aren't easy to document through lab tests.

So, how do you show examiners from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your pain is real and very limiting? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Make pain a part of your conversation at every doctor's visit. Unless you directly address your pain, your doctor may not make a note of it at your visit -- and consistent documentation of your pain helps your case.
  2. Go for every lab test and every treatment -- even if that means going to physical therapy or going to a pain clinic. The more you show that you are doing everything you can to alleviate your pain, the more credible your complaints of that pain become. It doesn't matter if you're unsuccessful -- just that you keep trying.
  3. Document your limitations due to pain very carefully. When you fill out your application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, give specific examples of how pain limits you. Are you unable to stand for more than 10 minutes because of your fibromyalgia? Explain how that limits your ability to do the grocery shopping, clean your house, go to social events, etc. Do your migraines lay you up four days a week? Talk about how that limits your life.

The SSA will take your pain into account -- but only if you convince them that your pain is real. If you've been struggling for a while to get your Social Security Disability claim approved, it may be time to ask for help. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process and protect your rights.

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