Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a lifeline for individuals who are disabled by chronic pain. If approved, it can provide monthly insurance benefits to those whose disabilities are so severe that they cannot work a substantial amount. However, the application and approval process can be rigorous, and because assessing pain can be extremely challenging — given that it is invisible, subjective, and stigmatized — this may mean that some individuals with pain are incorrectly denied benefits.

Social Security Administration (SSA), which administers SSDI, recognizes these challenges. The SSA recently announced it is accepting feedback in how it considers pain for disability benefit claims via a public comment period that ends Feb. 18.

Questions the SSA is seeking feedback on include:

  • Are there changes that we should consider about how we consider pain in the disability evaluation process? If so, what changes do you suggest we make? Please provide data, research, or any other evidence supporting your suggestions where applicable.
  • Within the United States, which standard scales, questionnaires, or other methods to evaluate the intensity and persistence of pain that are commonly accepted in the medical community do you recommend we consider and why? What information exists about the efficacy or accuracy of those scales, questionnaires, or other methods?
  • Should we evaluate chronic pain differently than acute pain? If so, why and how?

To submit your comments, click here.