I have an upcoming hearing for a client suffering from chronic severe back pain.
When evaluating a claim involving subjective symptoms such as pain, a Social Security Administrative Law Judge must consider the credibility of the claimant's statements regarding pain and the functional limitations that result.
The judge must determine if the pain is as bad as the claimant says it is, and how severely the pain limits the claimant's ability to work. This necessarily requires a credibility determination.
The SSA has a regulation, 20 C.F.R. 404.1529, entitled "How we evaluate symptoms, including pain." The regulation discusses the factors that must be considered by the judge when assessing credibility. Social Security Ruling 96-7p also discusses those factors. Both the regulation and the ruling include the claimant's prior work record among the factors to be considered. See 20 C.F.R. 404.1529(c)(3) and Ruling 96-7p.
This just makes common sense. A person who has had steady employment for 20 years would be working tomorrow if possible. A person with no history of steady employment, not so much. When my claimant has worked steadily for many years, I always mention that favorable work history to the judge in my hearing memorandum.