Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted diagnosis, one that affects roughly 50 million Americans. You might think that getting Social Security disability benefits for chronic pain is simple, due to the widespread nature of this disease—unfortunately, the opposite is true. Since chronic pain can be difficult to prove, the SSA is wary of giving disability benefits for it.
That’s why you need a committed disability attorney on your side throughout the application process. Call Baker & Baker at 850-433-0888 to schedule a consultation with our team now.
The Issues with a Chronic Pain Claim
Why is it so difficult to get benefits for chronic pain when it’s an issue that obviously interferes with an individual’s ability to work? To start, chronic pain is not exactly its own diagnosis. It is something that is diagnosed when other conditions have been ruled out.
When a patient presents with chronic pain, doctors will typically test for a litany of disorders that may be the root cause of the pain. When nothing comes up, the patient gets the label of “chronic pain.” Because the pain cannot be proven or quantified via conventional diagnostic measures, it is harder to prove to the SSA.
The SSA is obviously worried about people abusing a chronic pain diagnosis to get benefits when they are actually still able to work. This means that it’s not impossible to get disability benefits for chronic pain, but it is more challenging than it might be for other diagnoses.
Types of Chronic Pain
The more information you can provide on your pain and how it affects you, the stronger your SSD claim will be. Pain is typically categorized into one of several categories, making it easier for doctors to figure out the cause and find effective treatments. Common types of pain include:
- This is a very common type of pain that is felt in the muscles or skin. It includes back pain.
- Bone pain is an intense sensation that may be consistent or come and go with different activities. It is often associated with arthritis and cancer.
- Pain in the organs is known as visceral pain.
- Poor circulation is a common source of pain for patients.
- Damage to the peripheral nervous system often leads to nerve pain that makes it difficult for the brain and other body parts to communicate.
- When you hear that someone’s pain is “all in their head,” this is generally what it means. Psychogenic pain has no physical source and is generally unexplainable.
When evaluating your claim, the SSA will look at the different treatment options you’ve tried to get your pain under control. The more you have done to seek a resolution, the better it will look for your application. If you do not try any treatment options before applying for benefits, the SSA may consider that a red flag. Common treatment options for chronic pain include:
- Physical therapy
- Electrical stimulation
Diagnosis or RFC Assessments
There are two main ways to qualify for Social Security disability benefits for chronic pain. First, you can figure out which diagnosis causes your chronic pain and try to qualify for benefits under that diagnosis. Second, you can do an RFC assessment that evaluates your ability to work and complete normal work activities.
The first option may be a viable option for you if you have not exhausted your treatment options yet. Many people have tried to find a diagnosis for years before giving up and applying for SSD benefits, but if you still haven’t seen pain specialists, this is the route to go. If you can trace your pain back to a specific injury or diagnosis, the application process will be much easier.
If you choose to go through an RFC assessment, you will be tested on how your pain affects different work tasks for your current position. The assessment will look at how severe your pain is, how often you need to take breaks for it, and what you need to do to manage it. If the assessment finds that you cannot do your current line of work with your disability, the SSA will try to evaluate whether or not there are other types of work you can do. If there is nothing else you can do, your application may be approved.
Contact Baker & Baker for Help with Your Claim
At Baker & Baker, we know that your disability claim may mean the difference between fulfilling your obligations and running out of funds. We fight to help each client submit the strongest application possible, and we’re also here to help with details and appeals. Schedule a consultation now by calling us at 850-433-0888 or contacting us online.