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Winning Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain

Posted by
David Brannen
on March 24, 2018
Are you unable to work due to chronic pain and you are seeking disability benefits for chronic pain? Does your chronic pain keep you from gaining or maintaining full-time employment?

Applying for and winning long-term disability benefits for chronic pain in Canada can be an exhausting and hard process.

This article will address some of the difficulties of dealing with chronic pain as you are applying for disability benefits for chronic pain and navigating the long road to receiving the compensation and support you so desperately need and deserve. This article is part of our series examining medical conditions and disability benefits

Chronic pain not only affects those who suffer from it, but it is also harmful and costly to the nation. The Chronic Pain Society informs us that this problem costs Canadians billions of dollars a year in lost income as well as health expenses.

In dealing with your chronic pain disability case, it is important to remember that you are not alone.

According to the Chronic Pain Society, one in five adults in Canada suffer from chronic pain. In fact, this disability is such a pressing concern that the Canadian Pain Coalition has set aside the entire week of November 6th through the 12th (National Pain Week 2016) to promote awareness of the condition. Chronic pain has reached almost epidemic proportions and cannot be ignored or dismissed in Canada any longer.

What qualifies as chronic pain in a disability case?

Chronic pain is different to immediate, acute pain in that it can last for weeks, months or even years. In fact, chronic pain can last a lifetime and present itself in any number of ways. When experiencing chronic pain, you may feel symptoms that range from sore joints to headaches or muscle aches and beyond.

Confusion.jpgWhile Chronic Pain is now recognized as debilitating condition in itself, this serious and lasting medical issue can also be associated with a number of different disorders and diseases such as arthritis, gout, Crohn’s Disease, <a href="">fibromyalgia</a>, carpal tunnel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and a number of neurological and spinal disorders as well as back and neck issues which may be related to an accident or physical trauma.

In addition, chronic and uncontrolled pain can compromise the immune system and the healing process as well as promote tumour growth.

Diagnosing Chronic Pain for a disability case

It is possible to win disability benefits for chronic pain by proving that you have a pain-related impairment such as the ones listed above. To do this, you typically must be able to show that your pain is caused by a medical condition or trauma that is already known to cause pain. This clinical approach may create roadblocks for sufferers who are seeking to obtain long-term disability benefits for chronic pain in Canada.

In this situation, you would need to show you have undergone medical testing and x-rays to determine the cause of the pain you are feeling. If the problem is something easily diagnosable, such as back trauma as a result of an accident, the cause of your chronic pain will be clearly visible on an x-ray. However, the causes of chronic pain are frequently vague and hard to understand, even for those in the medical profession.

invisible.jpgJennifer Stinson, a nurse clinician scientist in the Research Institute at SickKids Hospital in Toronto states that - “Health care providers, the public, even the patient's friends don't believe they have chronic pain because for most of the conditions it's invisible. They look perfectly normal ... but this pain has a significant impact on their life." Seeking out a diagnosis and medical attention is vital in order to receive disability benefits for chronic pain.

Chronic pain sufferers must be able to prove that they have completed all available treatments necessary to relieve the pain. These treatments may include taking appropriate medications, getting injections, doing physiotherapy or massage therapy, seeing a chiropractor and looking for help at pain clinics. During the disability claims process, a judge will be more likely to believe the pain is serious if a person has received treatment and if the treatment is ongoing.

If you are a victim of chronic pain, please do not be afraid to look for the help you need. Seeing a doctor and exploring various avenues of treatment can also be a big help in securing disability benefits.

Further Effects of Chronic Pain and How It Affects Your Disability Claim

Chronic pain is not merely a physical disorder. The medical field has accepted that living with chronic pain also results in many psychological problems. The Canadian Pain Society supplies us with a devastating and frightening statistic - those who suffer from chronic pain are fifty percent more likely to commit suicide than those who do not.

When dealing with chronic pain, you must also take your mental health into consideration. Not only can the feeling of pain itself cause frightening issues with mental health, but the act of attempting pain prevention can result in problems as well.

According to a study conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, chronic pain typically affects every aspect of the sufferer’s life. The physical pain not only limits your ability to work but also seriously inhibits your ability to live fully and enjoy the world around you. Trying to avoid or prevent the chronic pain you are feeling can seriously limit your usual activities such as personal care and grooming as well as social and leisure activities.

It even encroaches on time spent with your family. You can become a prisoner, trapped by your chronic pain, which only enhances feelings of depression and isolation. The stress of being in constant pain is difficult enough to deal with, but navigating the proper channels in order to assure that you will receive disability benefits is also a process that may cause anxiety or a feeling of hopelessness. You should document and include any mental health issues as part of your claim to win disability benefits for chronic pain.

Proof.jpgIt is also important to provide documentation that shows you are seeking treatment for any psychological aspects of chronic pain. Failing to get this type of treatment can be fatal to you and your disability case.

Chronic pain often leads to chronic sleep deprivation, as well. According to the Canadian Sleep Society, chronic pain and insomnia are frighteningly intertwined in a vicious cycle. A lack of sleep can change the way your body processes pain, and it can cause hypersensitivity that will enhance your pain. At the same time, being in pain usually makes it difficult to sleep or reduces the quality of sleep that you may be getting.

When applying for long-term disability benefits for chronic pain, you should also include any insomnia or trouble sleeping that you may be having in the documentation surrounding your claim. Lack of sleep inhibits your ability to function in the workplace and directly relates to an inability to work the way you did before you became a victim of chronic pain.

Chronic Pain and Credibility in a Disability Claim

Chronic pain is a disease that is misunderstood or even frequently dismissed and for that reason, it is vital that a person seeking disability benefits for chronic pain maintains a level of total honesty throughout the process.

Credibility.jpgWhen it comes to making a legal claim to disability benefits associated with chronic pain, credibility is intensely important.

Because chronic pain cannot be objectively and exactly measured through traditional, medical avenues such as blood tests or x-rays, it is important that the chronic pain sufferer does not pursue any activities that could undermine believability in regards to his or her status as a chronic pain sufferer.

Any exaggerations or inconsistencies in descriptions of pain or disability can hurt credibility, even if the inconsistency is the result of an honest mistake.

When filing for disability benefits for chronic pain, take the time to make a record of the ways in which you have tried to minimize the pain. Keeping track of your symptoms and the avenues of treatment you have pursued are a must.  You will also want to record all the ways in which you have modified your work habits in order to maintain employment and deal with chronic pain at the same time. If you were forced to change jobs as a result of chronic pain, make a note of that too.

Types of Disability Benefits Available for Chronic Pain Sufferers

When it comes to claiming long-term disability benefits for chronic pain in Canada, you might be eligible for one of two types of disability benefits for chronic pain: the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or long-term disability insurance.


CPP Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain

The CPP was designed to support Canadians after retirement and it also covers disability benefits that start once you become disabled and last until you are 65. After that, these disability benefits are converted into regular pensions.

To be eligible for the CPP disability benefits, you are required to have worked for four out of the past six years and to have paid payroll taxes. The CPP requires you to prove that your disability is both prolonged and severe, leaving you unable to work.

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Long-term Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain

Group disability insurance policies are the most common type of disability insurances available in Canada. If your employer has insured you as part of a group, you are receiving your disability insurance through your job. These group disability insurance policies provide both long-term and short-term disability benefits.

If you are suffering from chronic pain, you can apply for the long-term disability benefits if eligible. If your application is approved, these benefits will provide you with monthly income payments during long absences from work in order to relieve some financial strain and pressure.

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What can you do if your benefits for chronic pain are denied?

You’ve filled out the forms, and you’ve compiled as much evidence as you could get and you are hoping to receive disability benefits for chronic pain.

You’ve sought out treatment and maintained credibility throughout the process – and yet, the letter you get in the post a few weeks later informs you that you have been denied the right to disability benefits for chronic pain.

In spite of chronic pain, you find yourself forced back out into the working world, to provide for yourself and your family.

Depression.jpgThis is a tough time. I’ve seen it over and over again with my clients. I’ve been through it with them in the process of filing for disability benefits for chronic pain. You may feel discouraged. You may wonder what you’ve done wrong.

A rejection can feel like a slap in the face. Being told that your condition doesn’t warrant financial support to give you some space to breathe and focus on your recovery adds humiliation and frustration to the chronic pain. Having to force yourself back to work can have devastating consequences for your physical and mental health.

The good news is that you don’t have to simply accept this as a harsh reality. You can appeal the insurance company’s decision instead. I have years of experience with disability benefit claims, including many cases of chronic pain. I know what you are going through, and I’m confident that I can help you. You have a choice. You don’t have to let insurance companies deny you the support you are entitled to by law.

Still Feeling Unsure About Your Disability Claim? Sometimes a quick call with us can answer your concerns and help you move forward with confidence. Call us now at 888-732-0470for a free consultation or click here to request a free consultation.

Tags: Disabling Medical Conditions

David Brannen
Founder & Managing Lawyer, Resolute Legal
David is a former occupational therapist turned disability lawyer. He is the founder of Resolute Legal and author of A Beginner's Guide to Disability Insurance Claims in Canada and The Beginner's Guide to CPP Disability.