Chronic Pain Applying for Disability Benefits
Chronic pain that is not controlled by medication can be a daily annoyance, but some people experience pain so severe that it limits their ability to live a normal life. An inability to work due to chronic pain can qualify a person for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Chronic pain is a type of pain that is experienced for a period of time greater than six months. This type of pain is constantly felt by the sufferer, and medical treatments are generally unable to take away the pain. If medications do work, they will only work to reduce the pain rather than eliminate it.
This condition is often a symptom or result of an underlying medical condition. Even if medical professionals are able to detect the cause of chronic pain, treating the condition may not eliminate pain. Examples of medical conditions that often lead to chronic pain include sciatica, arthritis, diabetes, migraine and injury.
Is Chronic Pain a Disability?
People who suffer from chronic pain receive pain management treatment. The aim of this treatment is to reduce the severity of the pain in order to allow the sufferer to live as normal a life as possible.
Suffering from chronic pain can contribute to the development of mood disorders like depression.
While chronic pain is not considered to be a condition that is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for automatic qualification for SSDI benefits, there are ways for people to qualify for benefits.
Since chronic pain is often the result of another medical condition, a person suffering from chronic pain may qualify for benefits because of the original condition. For example, people with inflammatory arthritis or back injury could be eligible for benefits because of their condition.
However, it is typically difficult to qualify for SSDI benefits in relation to an underlying condition that causes chronic pain because other symptoms of the condition must also be proven in order for an individual to be eligible for benefits. Qualifying through a reduced functional capacity (RFC) evaluation may be necessary in this case.
Reduced Functional Capacity (RFC) Evaluation
A representative of the SSA will evaluate how a person’s chronic pain affects their ability to perform job tasks in order to determine eligibility for benefits.
Unfortunately, pain is subjective and difficult for medical professionals to accurately document. The SSA claims examiner will be reading medical records in order to determine eligibility for benefits, so it is important to explain pain levels as thoroughly as possible when talking to a doctor.
Evaluations of a person’s ability to complete daily tasks without overwhelming pain will contribute to the final determination. Medications that are prescribed for pain and any side effects that could negatively affect a person’s ability to perform work tasks will also be taken into consideration.
Proof that an individual cannot perform or is not qualified for sedentary work is also required when applying for SSDI benefits.