Debilitating, chronic pain can be a basis for a claim for Social Security disability benefits. New studies show that more middle-aged Americans are living with chronic pain. According to a new study, pain in middle-aged Americans seems to surface much earlier in life. The study found that 32% of Americans born in 1955 reported experiencing pain starting at age 52.
Education appears to be a factor. Middle-aged Americans with lower education levels are much more likely to report pain when they enter their middle years. Lower education levels are associated with increased exposure to stress, both economic and occupational. Also lower education may indicate less access to quality healthcare. These middle-aged American are more likely to be working two or more jobs, resulting in physical stress. That person may be less likely to be able to benefit from exercise or rest. He or she is also more likely to struggle with financial insecurity, unstable jobs, and poor wages. All of these factors can increase mental stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate the experience of physical pain.
The research clearly suggests a link between socio- economic status and a higher predisposition to pain among Americans as they get older. Pain undermines the quality of life. Pain is a prominent factor in the opioid epidemic; it is implicated in suicide; and it is often the cause of alcohol or other substance abuse. As America attempts to understand the epidemic of suicides in middle-aged Americans who do not have a college level education, pain appears to be a key player.