Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain Disorder (CPD)
Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain Disorder
Chronic pain disorders are far from understood by the medical community, but for anyone who struggles with one, the challenges they cause on a day-to-day basis are all too real. If your ability to earn a living and provide for yourself is being compromised by chronic pain, social security disability benefits may allow you the freedom to focus on your recovery without worrying about finances.
Chronic pain is one of the more difficult conditions to document objectively, which may make it hard to successfully apply for Social Security disability and SSI benefits. For this reason, an experienced chronic pain attorney can be extremely helpful when submitting a claim.
What Is Chronic Pain Disorder?
An estimated 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain of some degree. As opposed to acute pain, which is a normal response to injury and illness that passes as you recover, chronic pain is persistent and may have no apparent cause or specific trigger.
Chronic pain conditions are typically diagnosed when pain continues to recur for a period of three to six months or longer. There may be no cure for chronic pain — the focus is on managing the condition, typically through physical therapy and medication. Acupuncture and other non-traditional treatments have also demonstrated effectiveness in pain management. Chronic pain can occur anywhere in the body, though the most common areas are back pain, neck pain, facial pain and headaches.
Getting Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain
Individuals with severe chronic pain may qualify for disability under either the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Secured Income (SSI) program. If you have previously worked and contributed to Social Security through payroll taxes, you likely qualify under SSDI. If your condition has prevented you from working enough to earn the required amount of coverage under the SSDI program, you may still apply under SSI, which is based on financial need.
Chronic pain itself is not listed in the Blue Book of conditions automatically qualifying a person for disability benefits. However, it is still possible to submit a successful claim by filing under a related condition, such as a back injury or inflammatory arthritis.
If you don’t automatically qualify for any related condition, you must undergo a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. A claims examiner will look at your symptoms and limitations, as well as your age, education, skills and prior work experience to determine whether or not there is any work you can perform.
Denied Disability for Chronic Pain?
If you are seeking chronic pain disability benefits and have been denied, you will want to examine the evidence you have submitted. Since chronic pain is subjective, it must be documented very precisely and thoroughly to show how it has affected your life. One common reason you may have been denied disability is if you did not prove thoroughly enough how pain has affected your ability to work and perform everyday tasks.
It can be effective to submit evidence of medical tests, such as X-rays and MRIs or other diagnostic tests, used to determine the cause of your pain. You will also want to submit any evidence of attempted treatment, including medications, physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractor visits and other solutions you have attempted.
If you can show your chronic pain is caused by a specific condition, like a spine injury, fibromyalgia or another condition, submit medical evidence of this diagnosis as well as treatment attempts for that condition. You may be able to seek disability benefits for that condition.
In addition, you must be able to show your chronic pain has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more continuously. If you have not had chronic pain for some time or if it may seem you will get better, you may be denied disability for this reason. Continuing to visit medical experts and making treatment attempts may help establish the timeline of your condition.
If you have been denied disability benefits and need to offer more documentation of your severe pain as well as how it has affected your life, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco. You can speak to an SSI or SSD lawyer who may be able to represent you or can strengthen your claim.
Applying to SSDI or SSI for Chronic Pain
Because its severity is subjective, applying for SSI or SSDI for chronic pain requires demonstrating that your condition has affected your ability to live a normal, productive life. This can be done by submitting doctors’ records, test results and psychological assessments that show the impact your condition has on your overall physical and mental condition. Since pain is subjective it can be helpful to keep a pain diary, noting the frequency, severity, and duration of your pain, as well as other symptoms and relieving factors.
It is not uncommon for a Social Security chronic pain claim to be rejected on the first application. In fact, more than 65% of all claims are denied at first. Since chronic pain cases often require more persuasive evidence than other conditions, rejection rates are likely to be even higher.
Reasons to Hire a Chronic Pain Lawyer for Your Claim
If you have been denied disability for chronic pain, an attorney may be able to represent you and can work to strengthen your claim. Your attorney can review your claim and find ways to make your claim stronger through additional documentation.
An attorney may also be able to suggest additional steps you can take. For example, if you have not attempted treatment or have not been to a specialist who deals with chronic pain, this can be one option for you. A report from an expert in chronic pain may carry more weight than a report from a general practitioner, and an expert may be able to give a more in-depth explanation of your condition.
If you have not sought disability yet but are qualified, working with an attorney from the start may be beneficial in helping you fill out any paperwork correctly and in helping you build a strong claim. With so many people with chronic pain being denied disability the first time they apply, having legal advice and representation from a professional may help you submit a strong claim from the start. Whether you have been denied disability or are just applying for the first time, consider working with a disability attorney.
If you’ve been denied Social Security disability benefits for chronic pain, or you are planning on applying for the first time and would like assistance, contact the chronic pain attorneys at the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco in Lenni, PA. We can help you gather the evidence that may be able to increase your chances of success. Call us today at 877-459-4799 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.