Evaluating chronic pain in disability claims – Public Comment Needed

February 13, 2019

Comments due February 15


An informational alert prepared by Fifth Freedom

Information courtesy of the Social Security Administration


The Social Security Administration (SSA) is asking for feedback on how it considers chronic pain in disability claims. Your comments will help SSA determine if it needs to revise how it evaluates pain.


The current process has two steps:


1.  SSA determines whether there is objective medical evidence showing the existence of a medically determinable impairment that could reasonably be expected to produce the pain.

2.  If evidence is found, SSA evaluates the intensity and persistence of a claimant’s pain based on all the evidence in the record. Factors considered include:


·    The claimant’s medical history, the clinical signs and laboratory findings, and statements about the pain’s effect on the claimant

·    The location, duration, frequency, and intensity of the pain

·    Any precipitating or aggravating factors

·    The type, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of medication

·    Any treatments, other than medication, the claimant receives or has received for relief of pain

·    Any measures the claimant uses or has used to relieve pain


SSA is looking for feedback on any changes it should consider to the evaluation process. Are there changes that SSA should consider about how it considers pain in the disability evaluation process? If so, what changes do you suggest? Please provide data, research, or any other evidence supporting your suggestions where applicable.


To share your feedback, visit and click on the blue “Comment Now” box on the right side of the page: . Comments are due by February 15.


For questions, contact Dan O’Brien, Office of Disability Policy, at (410) 597-1632.


Thanks for your help, advocates!