Spartanburg, South Carolina Disability Lawyer Gives an Overview of Back Pain
If you’re suffering from back pain or other chronic spinal injuries that prevent you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In fact, back pain is the most commonly cited impairment in Social Security disability applications.
However, the fact that you’ve cited and proven back pain in your disability application doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a good chance of succeeding in your claim. The Social Security Administration does not consider most back ailments to be severe enough to meet a listing under its Listing of Impairments; thus, in order to win a claim for Social Security disability benefits, you will likely have to prove that your residual functional capacity is severely restricted by your back pain, and you are unable to function or work as a result of your pain.
The Social Security Administration, in evaluating your back pain, will factor in objective evidence of your medical symptoms (through doctor’s reports, lab tests, x-ray findings, etc.), your subjective reports of your pain, and your credibility.
X-rays and other objective medical evidence of your symptoms
It is often the case that you suffer from severe back pain but lack the objective medical findings to prove it. In fact, x-rays, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are not reliable indicators of severe osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease: sometimes, x-rays may show that the osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is severe, but the person with the condition may not feel any pain or have any symptoms at all. Other times, people with x-rays that indicate mild symptoms may actually suffer from such severe pain that they’re unable to function.
Even the Social Security Administration, in its comments to its Listing of Impairments, observed that “there is relative lack of correlation between findings on imaging and function of the joint.” And not only can objective evidence be a barrier to being found disabled via meeting or equaling a Listing, but it can also present obstacles in the examination of your residual functional capacity (RFC). Studies have shown that there is actually very little or no correlation between your lumbar range of motion and your RFC. Outside factors such as age, gender, and the time of day can affect your lumbar range of motion. In addition, even people with no back injuries can vary widely in their lumbar range of motion.
Subjective evidence of your back pain and the importance of your credibility
In addition to looking at your objective evidence of your pain, the Social Security Administration will also consider subjective aspects such as your medical history, how consistent your complaints are, and how credible you are.
Social Security will look at whether you made consistent comments to each one of your treating physicians, and, if there is a discrepancy, whether the change in your symptoms over a period of time could plausibly explain the inconsistencies.
Your credibility is also important: Social Security will examine whether you actually tried to alleviate your symptoms (by seeking treatment, following the doctor’s orders, etc.), whether your activities became restricted due to your pain, how your responded to treatment, and your doctors’ comments about your credibility.
Psychogenic or emotional factors that affect your pain
If you’re suffering from severe psychological distress, extreme fear of pain, or other forms of “emotional overlay,” this might explain the heightened nature of your back pain. This might also explain why your increased pain is out of proportion with objective medical evidence. Chronic disabling lower back pain occurs more often among patients who suffer from these psychogenic factors.
If this is the case, it is important that your South Carolina disability lawyer gets a detailed opinion from your treating doctor explaining the emotional overlay. A psychological evaluation may be necessary to corroborate these findings. It is often the case that a combination of back injury and psychogenic overlay explains your pain.
I can help.
Because back pain is so hard to prove, consider getting the help of an experienced Spartanburg disability lawyer. I will make sure that your treating doctors provide the Social Security Administration with detailed explanations to support your diagnosis. I will also make sure to gather both objective and subjective evidence that will help give the Social Security Administration a good overall picture of your back injury. To schedule a free initial evaluation of your claim, simply fill out the form on this page to contact me.
Spartanburg, South Carolina Social Security disability attorney