While not a medical disorder in and of itself, pain is a common feature of many disability claims.
In evaluating claims for disability benefits, Social Security is required to carefully evaluate a claimant's complaints of disabling pain. It's own regulations provide that pain can provide the primary basis upon which benefits are awarded. However, complaints of pain alone rarely warrant an award of disability benefits. There must be objective medical signs and laboratory findings showing that an individual has a medical disorder capable of producing pain before such complaints will be taken seriously.
For example, there is a condition known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (or complex regional pain syndrome). RSD results in severe, unremitting pain that typically involves one limb of the body. Properly diagnosed, RSD can result in the award of disability benefits. However, there must be medical evidence of one or more characteristic clinical signs--swelling, skin changes, abnormal hair or nail growth, osteoporsis and/or involuntary movements of the affected limb--before Social Security will consider the diagnosis to have been established.
The same is true of other symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, weakness, or nervousness. Without a proper medical basis, such complaints generally receive short shrift in disability cases. However, where the medical basis has been established, these complaints often make the difference between winning and losing.
Experienced lawyers understand the significance
of pain and other symptoms in disability cases. They carefully
document their clients' medical disorders and determine whether
any of them are known to be capable of producing the symptoms
then gather and present evidence showing what kinds of activities
aggravate their clients symptoms and what specific functional
limitations their clients' have as a result. Such evidence
can provide the foundation for favorable adjudication.