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How to prove chronic pain for a Social Security disability claim

Chronic pain can be utterly debilitating -- so much so that it's important to list it as a separate condition when you file your Social Security disability claim. That allows Social Security to consider the condition as a specific part of what makes you disabled.

But how do you prove chronic pain? Pain isn't something that can be measured with an x-ray or blood test, and it isn't something that everyone experiences in the exact same way.

Use these tips to document your pain:

1. Keep a pain journal.

Keep a journal of your pain, including what part of your body hurts, what you think may have triggered the pain (if you know), and how long the pain lasted (until your medication kicked in, a few hours, or all day).

Include both a description of the type of pain that you feel -- whether it is burning, stabbing, throbbing, shooting, or aching -- and a numerical score from 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you could ever imagine.

Describe what steps you took to alleviate the pain. Did rest help? Did you try heat? Did ice help? Did going back to sleep help? How long did it take you to become functional?

You can give this journal to both your doctor and Social Security. While it is still essentially your experiences, a good pain journal can help increase your credibility by showing exactly what you are dealing with on a daily basis and how it affects you in specific ways.

2. Tell your doctor.

Make your doctor aware of your pain. A lot of people try to shrug off their pain or are embarrassed to admit how limited they are because of pain. That won't help you in this situation.

Every time you visit your doctor, make certain that he or she knows how much pain is affecting you. That way, there is consistent documentation in your medical records for Social Security to view.

3. Seek pain management.

Going to a pain clinic can help address your pain and help you document it for Social Security.

Generally speaking, showing that your pain is pushing you to seek treatment helps establish the fact that your pain is significant and not something that you can simply ignore.

If you've been denied disability benefits already, consider asking an attorney for assistance.

Source: WebMD, "Chronic Pain Management," accessed March 14, 2017

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Our Philadelphia firm and attorneys have received numerous accolades in the area of workers' compensation law. Several of our attorneys have been recognized by their peers and listed in Super Lawyers since 2006. The Super Lawyers process recognizes the top lawyers in their fields in Pennsylvania.

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Serving Philadelphia Since 1936

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