If you have chronic, disabling pain that prevents you from doing your job, it’s something that should help you to qualify for long term disability. In fact, a number of cases have reaffirmed this position and said that insurance companies and doctors can’t just ignore a person’s pain when deciding whether or not they are actually disabled and deserving of benefits.
For anyone out there suffering, this is good news. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as straightforward as saying, “my pain keeps coming back and I can’t work – give me the help I need!” What makes proving chronic pain so tricky?
The Disability Issues Inherent to Chronic Pain
Severe chronic pain is complicated in disability cases for a number of related reasons.
Unlike many other symptoms that can be easily pinpointed as the effects of specific disabilities, chronic pain is something that can occur due to a number of medical conditions: fibromyalgia, neuropathy, degenerative disc disease, and failed back surgeries are just a few. Because there’s no definitive way of telling what is causing the pain, it can be difficult to connect it to a disability (which means insurance companies often try to leave chronic pain out of a long term disability claim).
Related to the inability to connect chronic pain to a specific disability is the fact that it’s not something that shows up in any objective medical tests. Things like MRIs, x-rays, and CT scans may be able to prove that there’s a break or a tear, but they don’t quantify the actual pain that someone might be feeling, which is something that differs from person to person.
Put both of these things together and it allows insurance companies to argue that claimants are lying about – or at least exaggerating – the pain that they are feeling in order to get benefits. As insulting as this may be to someone dealing with debilitating pain, it’s a part of the process you’re likely to face if that’s the most significant symptom of your disability.
Make Chronic Pain Work for Your Case
The way around this issue is to do what you’re probably already doing anyway: try to make the pain go away. Claimants who can show that they have repeatedly sought out help to deal with their pain can use that fact to bolster their cases because they have a record to prove that something is going on.
After all, most reasonable people aren’t going to willingly submit themselves to doctors over and over – often racking up big medical bills – just so they can scam their insurance company. A record of seeking out help for your pain is proof that it’s real and it’s serious, and insurers have to pay attention to it.