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SSA asking for comments on its treatment of pain conditions

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is asking the public for feedback on how it considers pain and the documentation of pain in disability claims. The solicitation of input is an effort to make sure that the application process is fair for applicants with more subjective pain conditions such as fibromyalgia. Members of the public have until Feb. 15 to provide comments.

Specifically, the SSA is asking:

  1. For suggested changes in the way the SSA considers pain in the disability evaluation process
  2. For “standard scales, questionnaires or other methods to evaluate the intensity and persistence of pain that are commonly accepted in the medical community”
  3. For information on how pain and documentation of pain are assessed in other federal, state and private disability programs
  4. Whether chronic pain should be evaluated differently from acute pain
  5. Whether nociceptive pain should be evaluated differently from neuropathic pain
  6. For information and evidence available on traditional and alternative pain treatment methods
  7. Whether “health care utilization and treatment regimens employed by physicians to manage patient pain provide objective insights into the intensity and persistence of pain”
  8. For any other information that should be considered when the SSA evaluates pain

One of the biggest complaints from applicants applying for disability benefits because of pain conditions is that pain is highly subjective and many pain conditions do not have diagnostic tests that can provide a definitive diagnosis. Therefore, it can be very difficult for applicants to provide evidence of the medical condition and applications are often denied on this basis.

After weighing the public comments, the SSA may decide to change or modify the rules relating to the application process for pain conditions. This is a great opportunity for members of the public as well as organizations and nonprofits to have their voices heard. Remember to submit comments by Feb. 15 to have them considered by the SSA.

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