Are you Suffering from Chronic Pain?

As sedentary lifestyles become more common, people wonder about the relation between chronic pain and disability issues. Long-term chronic pain can raise many other health conditions, even disability. When something hurts, it almost always causes an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling in the body. The presence of pain frequently indicates that something is wrong.  

The most common reason for patients seeking medical attention is pain. Each of us, however, perceives a given pain stimulus in our own distinct way. The intensity of the response to a pain stimulus is mainly subjective, which means that the severity of the pain can be best defined by the person experiencing it rather than by other observers.

Pain is generally classified as either acute or chronic pain

Acute pain is characterized by its sudden onset and is usually the result of a well-defined cause, such as an injury. Acute pain resolves when the underlying cause is healed. Acute pain might be the result of a variety of factors, including:

  • surgery
  • bone fractures
  • dental work 
  • cuts or burns
  • childbirth and labor

After acute pain subsides, you can resume your normal activities. 

Chronic pain lasts for weeks or months and is usually the result of an underlying condition, such as arthritis. Chronic pain may be classified as either mild, moderate, or severe. 

This type of pain can last long after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or disappeared. Signals of pain can be present in the nervous system for months, or even years. Some people experience chronic pain even when there has been no previous injury or visible body damage. If the chronic pain resulted due to an injury, you can explore more information about disability for an injury.

Is chronic pain a disability?

Almost everyone experiences pain from time to time. You will no longer be in pain once the injury has healed. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is exceptional. Your body continues to ache for weeks, months, or even years after the injury. 

Doctors commonly define chronic pain as any pain that lasts for three to six months or more. Chronic pain might hurt your daily life as well as your mental health. You can work with your doctor, however, to treat it.

Disability for Chronic Pain

Pain can sometimes appear without a clear cause. For many people, it begins because of an injury or a medical condition. Past injuries or surgeries are among the most common causes. Back issues, migraines and other types of headaches, arthritis, damage to the nerves, infections, fibromyalgia, and other things can contribute to chronic pain. It can range from mild to severe. Pain can last for days, for months, or it can come and go. The pain can be described as a dull ache, throbbing, burning sensation, shooting of pain, stinging sensation, inflammation, or rigidity.

Pain is sometimes just one of many symptoms of an underlying condition, which can also include feeling extremely tired or wiped out, an absence of hunger, difficulty sleeping, mood shifts, mental deficiency, a lack of vitality, and poor mental health.

Chronic pain disability can disrupt your daily life, preventing you from doing the things you want and need to do. Pain can have a negative impact on your self-esteem and leave you feeling emotions such as:

The relationship between your emotions and your pain can lead to a dangerous cycle of negativity. When you are in pain, you are more likely to be depressed. This can aggravate your pain. Because of the link between depression and pain, antidepressants are frequently used as one treatment for chronic pain. These medications can help with both the pain and the emotional strain that comes with it. Prolonged chronic pain can cause a person to be unable to earn a living.

Can you get disability benefits for chronic pain?

To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits, you must first demonstrate to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you have a severe “medically determinable” physical or mental impairment. This means that your impairment must be proven through medical evidence such as objective symptoms and lab tests. If you have crossed 50 years of age and are planning to file a claim, you should also know a separate set of Social Security Rules after age 50 may apply.

Your impairment cannot be established solely based on your characterization of symptoms to be considered a disability. In other words, simply informing the Social Security Administration that you suffer from disabling chronic pain is insufficient.

As a result, unless your medical record includes things like lab tests, x-rays, and/or the results of a physical exam that show there is a physical impairment that could reasonably be expected to produce your symptoms, pain—even severe chronic pain that is disabling—you will not qualify.

  • Eligibility Based on Disability Listing

Chronic pain is not one of the impairments listed in Social Security’s Blue Book, which is a listing of impairments that SSA recognizes as causing disability for chronic pain. Some diagnoses are frequently associated with chronic pain, such as:

  • neurological disorders (listing 11.00)
  • inflammatory arthritis (listing 14.09)
  • somatoform disorders (listing 12.07)

If another diagnosed impairment triggers your chronic pain, you may be eligible for benefits under that category. Chronic pain, for example, can be caused by:

  • Chronic renal disease
  • Back injury
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

If you do not have a diagnosed condition listed in the Blue Book, chronic pain patients may try to qualify for benefits using the “residual functional capacity,” or “RFC,” assessment.

  • Eligibility determined through an RFC assessment

Disability claims examiners conduct an RFC assessment to determine whether your physical and mental limitations prevent you from working full-time. Unfortunately, Disability Determination Services claims examiners frequently dismiss pain. One reason for this is that pain complaints from applicants are subjective and difficult to prove.

Obtaining professional assistance is helpful

It may be difficult to obtain benefits for chronic pain unless you apply for benefits for underlying medical impairments. Many people are denied benefits at the initial application stage and will need to appear before an administrative law judge at a hearing. 

Contact a Los Angeles disability lawyer and discuss all the details before taking any action. A lawyer can assist you in preparing for your disability hearing so that your testimony supports your case and can cross-examine the vocational expert to rule out jobs that you are qualified for.