Back injuries and back pain in Florida Social Security disability cases

Back injuries resulting in low back pain are the problem mentioned most frequently by applicants for Social Security disability in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and across the country. Back pain cases present the challenge of convincing the Social Security Administration that your pain is real and disabling.

Evidence of back pain considered by the Social Security Administration

In determining the severity of your impairment from a back injury, the Social Security Administration will weigh:

  • Your objective abnormalities,
  • Your reported pain and other symptoms, and
  • Your credibility.

Objective medical evidence may not prove degree of back pain

Unfortunately, claimants with back injuries may suffer pain and limitation of motion but may not have significant neurological findings. It is possible for there to be very little objective evidence of a back impairment, yet a claimant may be disabled. For example, chronic back strain where there is no evidence of any x-ray changes still can be disabling.

X-rays, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine often cannot prove how severe your back pain is. Many people with significant abnormalities revealed by medical imaging have mild or no symptoms. On the other hand, some people who report excruciating back pain have minimal abnormalities.

Subjective evidence of back pain and your credibility

In any back injury case, objective evidence is important. But the Social Security Administration also must consider the subjective things: your medical history, the consistency of your complaints, and your credibility.

The Social Security Administration will look at the overall consistency of your subjective complaints of back pain. Are they consistent over time? Do you appear to tell one doctor one thing and another doctor another thing? Can inconsistencies in your complaints or in what you have told various doctors be explained by changes in your symptoms over time?

In assessing your credibility, the Social Security Administration is strongly influenced by your behavior in seeking relief of alleged symptoms, your activities that are limited by pain, the nature and frequency of your visits to a doctor for treatment, your response to treatment, and comments about your credibility in the treating doctor’s records.

Psychogenic factors in back pain

Chronic disabling low back pain develops more frequently in patients who are suffering from psychological distress or who have an extreme fear of pain which leads them to avoid physical therapy, exercise, and other beneficial activities. If your pain is out of proportion to what might be expected given the medical evidence, these psychogenic factors may help to explain the discrepancy. Your disability attorney can obtain your treating doctor’s opinion as to whether you may be experiencing a psychogenic overlay. If that is the case, a psychological evaluation may be in order to corroborate the problem.

Experienced Miami disability attorneys offer assistance with back injuries

Back injury claims can be challenging. Valid claims may be denied initially because the disability examiner and medical consultant elevate the importance of objective evidence so much that they fail to fully consider the subjective evidence. A skilled disability attorney can help assemble the best evidence for your case, both objective and subjective, and present it effectively to the Social Security Administration. More information on back injury claims is also available here on our website.

If you have a back injury and are not already represented by a Social Security disability attorney and want our evaluation, give us a brief description of your claim using the form to the right. Or you may contact us.

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