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I Have Chronic Pain. Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability?

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Our nervous systems tell us when we’re hungry, when we have to use the bathroom, when the terrain we’re walking or the surface we’re sitting is too rough for comfort. They never take a break.

And our nerves alert us when we’ve taken an action—or had something happen to us—that injures us. Pain is one of the saving graces of our nervous systems, and that sensation alone can keep us from even worse harms befalling us.

Imagine encountering an injury so traumatizing to a particular set of nerves (such as your back), that those pain signals never stop firing, even after you’ve healed. Over 20 percent of adults in the United States deal with chronic pain, and 8 percent deal with high-impact chronic pain. That’s over 50 million people suffering from chronic pain every day.

What if your condition keeps you from doing everyday tasks or makes going to work impossible? Maybe you’ve considered applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Chronic pain on its own does not automatically qualify you for disability. You must prove that your chronic pain meets the Social Security Administration’s disability guidelines.

Does Chronic Pain Affect Your Everyday Activities?

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The Social Security Administration, or SSA, will weigh any benefits application—including yours—against the question, “Does this condition prevent the applicant from performing any and all work they could do to provide for themselves?”

Disability benefits, at their core, are meant to help people provide for themselves when they have a disability that keeps them from doing substantially gainful activity (SGA), now and for at least a year into the future, if not longer.

A broken leg is painful, but it likely won’t qualify you for SSD benefits. Broken legs are acute incidences that many workplaces can accommodate for, even if your specific job doesn’t involve sitting at a desk. Some companies offer light work options that can keep you from straining your injury.

On the other hand, just treating a metastasized cancer (let alone living with the disease) can absolutely hinder a person’s ability to function day-to-day, much less go to work and provide for themselves and those depending on them.

A broken leg can be good as new in a few weeks, but cancer is a long-term disease. If it has metastasized, it isn’t likely that you’ll be back to work any time soon. That’s one reason why the SSA considers metastasized cancer a qualifying disability — it affects your ability to work now and for the foreseeable future.

Using Medical Records to Prove Your Claim

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Earlier, we discussed how many adults suffer from this condition, but most of them would likely not qualify for disability benefits.

Chronic pain, in isolation, doesn’t qualify you for benefits. The SSA’s Blue Book—a listing of conditions which do automatically qualify—doesn’t include chronic pain. But, before you put away your application for good, know you can still be eligible for disability benefits if your physical or mental limitations from chronic pain prevent you from working and are similar or equal to a listing that you haven’t been diagnosed with.

Your chronic pain could stem from mental or physical injury or condition. In any case, you must be able to verify your working limitations with medical records from your health care providers.

Some conditions that can cause chronic pain are:

If you have chronic pain severe enough to drive you to pursue disability benefits, then you need to have a history of consultations with your doctors and other caregivers that speaks to the extent of your condition.

Every case is different, however, and no two applications for those with chronic pain are guaranteed the same result. This is where a local disability lawyer can help. Not only can they walk you through filling out an application, but they can also help gather evidence from your healthcare providers proving the extent of your condition.

Help from an Evansville Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyer

Chronic pain by itself can be absolutely debilitating. Chronic pain with the added burden of providing for yourself and others can seem downright insurmountable.

You don’t have to go it alone. While your doctors and caregivers provide you with the professional medical help you need, Hensley Legal Group can help you traverse the nuances of the application process itself. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.