Chronic pain is a challenging issue to live with and can be difficult to obtain any disability coverage for. For one thing, just what is chronic pain? A formal definition of it would describe it as ongoing or recurrent pain which lasts longer than any sort of illness or injury. It usually has to be present for three months or more, and it has to manifest in specific locations rather than being a sense of generalized pain.
For example, if you are someone who lives with chronic pain, and you are looking to get some financial support because you find it disabling, that pain may have to occur in:
It may also have to be officially diagnosed as a pain disorder, including:
That is a tough question because qualifications require that you show the SSA or Social Security Administration that you have a severe and medically determinable impairment (physical or mental). The impairment is established through medical evidence featuring everything from formal lab tests to evaluations. In other words, you cannot qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) based on your statement of symptoms – you cannot report chronic pain and simply get benefits.
To begin the process, your chronic pain has to be formally documented through physical exams, lab tests, x-rays, and other work that demonstrates how your pain produces symptoms that limit your ability to work. Keep in mind that you might suffer something like fibromyalgia that can be tested through pain points, but you might also have a mental impairment that creates psychologically induced pain symptoms.
In both instances, an official diagnosis is required, and at the same time, the pain has to be of a severity that it will impair you for 12 months or more.
On top of all of this, the SSA (Social Security Administration) has its Blue Book to document all qualifiable disabilities, and chronic pain does not appear in its listings. What does are some of the most common issues that lead to chronic pain, including neurological, somatoform, and other disorders. Inflammatory arthritis, back injuries, IBS or IBD, and chronic renal disease also appear and link to chronic pain.
In 2015, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit clarified that all SSA cases must take into consideration what is known as “subjective complaints” of pain. As one report on this issue explained, “there is no definitive diagnostic test to rate the intensity or persistence of pain. Instead, the applicant’s only “evidence” is their subjective complaints of pain and any diagnostic tests, such as MRIs and X-Rays, which may give credence to their complaints. Worse yet, many chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, do not reveal themselves on an MRI or other imaging.”
Because of this, a skilled attorney is very helpful for presenting a case based on chronic pain. They can do everything from tracking down opinions of treating doctors to better demonstrating how pain impacts work.