Chronic pain and pain syndromes can make it impossible for suffers to work. However, insurers regularly discount pain complaints because pain is a subjective experience. You may be in excruciating pain, yet no instrument or test can measure it. The best way for you to get a long term disability insurer to take your complaints of pain seriously is to retain an experienced disability lawyers in new York to handle your claim or appeal.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is pain that persists. It may be intermittent or constant. The pain may have begun with an injury. Then the injury improved, but the pain did not go away. You may have chronic pain even though you never had a prior injury. For reasons that are not understood, your nervous system continues to send pain signals to your brain. Chronic pain can persist for months or even years.
Types of Chronic Pain and Related Conditions
Here are a few of the more frequently encountered chronic pain conditions that can prove disabling:
Complex regional pain syndrome. This condition causes severe pain in an extremity (hand, arm, foot, or leg). It usually develops after an injury, with the pain out of proportion to the severity of the injury. It can spread to other areas in the body.
Fibromyalgia. This condition is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, poor sleep, memory loss, and depression.
Irritable bowel syndrome. This syndrome affects the colon and causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation.
Interstitial cystitis. Also called painful bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that causes bladder pressure, bladder pain, and pelvic pain. The pain can be severe.
Chronic fatigue syndrome. The hallmark of this disorder is extreme fatigue that can't be explained by any underlying medical condition. Muscle pain is one of its many symptoms.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. This condition causes pain in the jaw, face, or neck; limited movement or locking of the jaw; painful clicking or popping of the jaw; and changes in the way the teeth fit together.
This list is not exhaustive.
Proving Disability Caused by Chronic Pain
Pain is the most disabling of symptoms and the main reason most people cease work. Yet insurers frequently deny claims of disability based on chronic pain and pain syndromes. Even when they approve the claim, they classify the condition as a mental or nervous illness, which then means that the claimant is eligible for benefits under most plans for no more than two years.
Insurers don’t give much weight to pain complaints because they are “self-reported.” They want objective evidence, i.e., MRIs, x-rays, and blood tests. The difficulty with chronic pain and pain syndromes is that there is no imaging or lab test that can prove your diagnosis. However, the courts have held that an insurer must credit a claimant’s credible complaints of pain.
Our disability lawyers in New York can help you assemble a claim or appeal that establishes the credibility of your complaints of pain. Material that may be important to convince the insurer of your pain includes:
Medical test results. Even though your pain condition cannot be definitively diagnosed by a medical test, there may be medical tests that you should have to rule out other diagnoses and to obtain results that are consistent with a pain syndrome diagnosis. Your may not have had all the tests that insurers will look for. Doctors do not always order these if they are not necessary for your treatment. Our disability lawyers in New York will obtain and review your medical test results and let you know what additional testing you need.
Doctor’s treatment notes. These can corroborate your complaints of pain, especially if the doctor has regularly recorded your pain levels on a scale at each visit. Sometimes, however, insurers will seize on a random note that “patient is feeling better” or “medication providing relief” to claim your pain is under control.
Doctor’s written report. This is vital, especially when the treatment notes are illegible or unhelpful. We send the doctor guidelines or a form to complete asking about how your diagnosis was made; your treatment including the side effects of pain medications; your prognosis; your physical limitations; and the doctor’s opinion about your ability to work.
Additional evaluations. We may send you for a functional evaluation by a physiatrist or physical therapist to determine your physical limitations (how long you can sit or stand; how far our can walk; how much you can lift, etc.). We may suggest an evaluation by a vocational specialist to determine whether you can perform the duties of your current occupation or other occupations. We may also refer you for cognitive testing by a neuropsychologist if your pain condition or the medications you are taking for it may be causing problems with thinking, memory, or judgment.
Your statement. We’ll talk to you at length about how your illness has affected your work and your life. Then we’ll help you tell your story in a written affidavit or video in a way that will be persuasive to the insurer.
Witness statements. We’ll talk with family, friends, and co-workers—the people who know you best. Their written statements about the impact of your condition on your job performance and daily activities can lend considerable support to your claims of pain.
Disability Lawyers in New York Offer Assistance with Pain-Related Long Term Disability Claims
Your chances of success with a pain-related long term insurance claim are greater the earlier you retain a disability lawyer. We encourage you to contact our disability lawyers in New York as soon as possible, even before you need to stop working. Call Riemer & Associates LLC, 212-297-0700 today.