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Pain and Social Security Disability Insurance

If you suffer from chronic pain you may find it difficult to work full-time. Some days the pain may be controllable while other days you may find you can only work 1-2 hours per day. Recently on our disability forum we had a worker ask, “If I suffer from pain most days and find it difficult to work eight hours per day, forty-hours per week what are my options?”

Controlling pain and getting good medical care

To win SSDI benefits the SSA will first evaluate whether you meet the nonmedical criteria for SSDI. If you do, they will want to ensure you have been getting proper medical care, you have followed your doctor’s treatment plan and you have done all you can to alleviate your pain.

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for many SSDI applicants to simply live with the pain rather finding out exactly what condition may be causing the pain. There are a variety of reasons this is the case, not the least of which is the high cost of medical care.

But keep in mind, if you do not have a diagnosis or you have not seen a doctor it can be very difficult to win SSDI benefits regardless of your health condition.

Does your pain keep you from working?

Another criteria the SSA will evaluate is whether you are currently working. This is tough for most applicants to understand, but if you can work the SSA does not care how severe the pain is or how much you are “pushing through the pain” they will deny you SSDI benefits. If you can work you are not disabled according to the SSA.

What are my options with chronic pain?

So this leads us to the question, “What are my options if I suffer from pain?” This question is really quite simple. You can either decide the pain is serious enough that you will get the best medical care you can, follow the doctor’s treatment plan, try to diagnosis your condition and hope to get better or you can ignore the problem.

After you choose one of those options then you have to decide whether the pain is so severe you cannot work or if you can work a more limited job. If you can retrain for new work the SSA will generally consider you not disabled.

So, before you apply for SSDI benefits you need to really evaluate your situation. Decide whether you can keep working or not, and if you can keep working, determine what level of work you can do.

Several warnings about SSDI

Now, I will offer a warning. First, remember that your SSDI benefit payment is calculated based on your average earnings. So if you start working less and less eventually the amount of SSDI that you could be entitled to receive at some point is gradually going to be reduced. Some claimants find it more beneficial to simply stop working and apply for SSDI rather than working just a few hours per week, especially if they know they will have to apply for SSDI at some point in the future.

Talk to a disability lawyer if you have questions.

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