“Chronic pain” is the main feature of a lot of different diseases or disorders – and, as any patient can attest, chronic pain can be absolutely disabling.
The problem with conditions that primarily feature chronic pain as a symptom, however, is that they are often very hard to prove. From Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) to conditions like fibromyalgia and lumber injuries, Social Security Disability (SSDI) claims for benefits are routinely (and unfairly) denied.
Why do chronic pain disorders have such a hard time gaining SSDI approvals?
Largely, the problem with chronic pain disorders is that a diagnosis isn’t exactly what SSDI wants when it asks for “proof” that your condition is debilitating. A claims examiner looks for objective evidence of your condition in your records, and that’s not always easy to get for certain conditions. For example, pain and fatigue are the hallmarks of fibromyalgia, but there’s no blood test, x-ray or other scan that can be run that “proves” that’s what you have.
Another problem with gaining approval for chronic pain conditions is the fact that pain is largely a subjective experience. A back injury that is utterly disabling to one person may only occasionally bother someone else.
What can you do to give your SSDI claim a better chance of success?
When you’re caught in this kind of situation, there are things you can do that may help:
- Consistently attend your doctor’s appointments and talk to your doctor about additional tests, referrals to specialists, physical therapy and other measures that might be taken to treat your condition. SSA logically assumes that people who are in pain will continue to try to find ways to relieve that pain.
- Keep a pain diary or journal. Record your symptoms, the duration of your “bad spells” and what does or does not seem to help with your condition. Take that journal with you to every doctor’s visit and ask your doctor to add the newest pages to your medical records. That also helps provide visual evidence for SSA’s records.
Finally, whether you’re hoping to get an initial claim approved or you’re having trouble getting your SSDI claim for a pain disorder through the approval process successfully, it may be time to seek legal guidance. An experienced professional can often help you present the information that SSA needs in the way that it needs to be presented for the best shot at securing benefits.