How SSA assesses your credibility

The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t use the word “credibility” when it discusses how it evaluates your claim, but its judges definitely take credibility into account.  In the words of SSA,

We will consider your statements about the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of your symptoms, and we will evaluate your statements in relation to the objective medical evidence and other evidence, in reaching a conclusion as to whether you are disabled. We will consider whether there are any inconsistencies in the evidence and the extent to which there are any conflicts between your statements and the rest of the evidence, including your history, the signs and laboratory findings, and statements by your treating or nontreating source or other persons about how your symptoms affect you.

Your statements may be considered less credible “if the level or frequency of treatment is inconsistent with the level of complaints, or if the medical reports or records show that the individual is not following the treatment as prescribed and there are no good reasons for this failure.” But SSA cautions judges against drawing inferences from your failure to seek treatment without first considering your explanation for that failure.

A judge may consider his or her observations of you at the hearing, but “the adjudicator is not free to accept or reject the individual’s complaints solely on the basis of such personal observations, but should consider any personal observations in the overall evaluation of the credibility of the individual’s statements.”