Can Pain Cause Disability?
Pain is an unpleasant emotional and sensory experience associated with damage to the tissues of the body or as a symptom of several different conditions and illnesses. Acute pain results from a direct injury, and it usually goes away within three months as the injury heals, while chronic pain does not go away after three months.
Injuries that don’t heal in three months and other long term conditions can lead to chronic pain. Chronic pain can be a major source of disability and can lead to many devastating effects on a person’s life. It can manifest in many parts of the body and prevent a person from being able to work or perform activities required for daily living.
The causes of chronic pain
The causes of chronic pain are many. It can result from the following conditions and medical illnesses among many others:
- Injuries resulting from an accident
- Sports related injuries
- Back injuries or strain
- Arthritis and other joint conditions
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic illnesses like cancer and lupus
- Nerve conditions and nerve damage
- Headaches and migraines
- Shingles and other bacteria or viral infections
Some of the other causes of chronic pain can include poor posture, improper carrying of objects or lifting heavy objects over a long period of time, being overweight (which puts excess strain on the joints), an abnormal curvature of the spine, or sleeping on a low quality mattress.
In other cases of chronic pain there is no obvious physical cause, but the person can experience pain at levels that are similar to real physical injuries or even greater. This is called chronic idiopathic pain syndrome, and it can be just as debilitating as pain with an identifiable cause.
Chronic pain affects millions of Canadians and often prevents them from working
Chronic pain affects millions of Canadians and prevents many of the affected from being able to work. It affects 10 to 12 percent of all Canadians and about 20 to 25 percent of seniors in Canada. In one survey, over 27% of seniors in the country reported living in chronic pain.
Some people are able to tolerate their chronic pain and continue to work, while others have so much pain that it prevents them from working at all. Many people take time off of work for chronic pain, only to find that they are unable to resume working. Others may underperform in their job or have their hours reduced as a result of their chronic pain.
In some of these conditions, disability benefits may be obtained as a result of the chronic pain condition causing a limitation in the ability to work.
Treating chronic pain and living with it
The treatment of chronic pain involves diagnosing and treating the underlying condition and providing treatments for the pain. In many cases, chronic pain is considered a separate condition requiring its own treatment protocol. Treatments focus on the physical and psychological health of the affected person.
Chronic pain can also lead to several debilitating psychological symptoms including a low mood, depression, anxiety about not being able to work or not being able to be active. It can affect all aspects of a person’s life and make work and other obligations a serious challenge.
Treatments for chronic pain can include but are not limited to: prescription medications, physical therapy, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, electrical nerve stimulation opioids, and exercise. Alternative treatments like acupuncture, massage and meditation are sometimes prescribed to treat the condition, although researchers aren’t clear exactly how these treatments work.
Psychotherapies like cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, and others are often used in conjunction with the treatment of physical symptoms, as coping with chronic pain can be extremely difficult. Psychotherapy can help people with chronic pain find ways to deal with their physical limitations and offers them a source of emotional support, and it is a very important component of the overall treatment plan.
Treatment resistant chronic pain can be very debilitating
Chronic pain can often be resistant to treatment, and if you have this type of chronic pain you know how debilitating it can be. It can prevent you from enjoying your favourite activities, from getting out of the house, and it can reduce or completely eliminate your ability to work.
Also, the side effects of medications that you may have to take can affect your ability to work and function, and you may have to take a significant amount of time out of your day to attend medical appointments or physical and alternative therapy sessions.
You may be eligible for benefits if you have chronic pain
In the circumstance that you are prevented from working as a result of your chronic pain, you will need financial assistance for living, which is why the Canada Pension Plan offers disability benefits to those who are affected by it.
Although you can apply for long term disability benefits or for Canada Pension Plan benefits no matter what your medical situation is, you must prove that your chronic pain is disabling to the best of your ability in order to qualify for payments.
Several factors are considered by long term disability insurance companies and by Canada Pension Plan when determining whether or not your chronic pain is disabling including:
- The ways that your pain disables you and prevents you from doing specific activities
- The frequency, duration, intensity and location of the pain
- Any conditions that aggravate your pain
- Treatments that you are undergoing for the pain, including traditional and alternative treatments
- The types of medications you are taking to treat your pain
- Your own methods that you use to cope with your pain
Your medical provider can document and establish many of these factors and provide your long term disability insurance provider and Canada Pension Plan with much of the evidence that you need for your claim.
In addition to this, lab tests and other tests can be used as additional evidence for your claim. For example, some medical conditions have laboratory tests like lupis, arthritis and many others. Many of the symptoms of chronic pain and some conditions cannot be measured by a lab test, and even if you cannot submit lab tests, you may still qualify for disability benefits.
In general, the more evidence that you provide the service the greater the chance that your claim will be approved.
Determining how chronic pain limits the work you can do
It can be difficult to figure out whether or not you are eligible to work based on your levels of chronic pain. You may for example be able to stand and move around for forty-five minutes at a time, but you may also have to rest soon afterward. In this circumstance, there are very few jobs if any that you would be able to successfully perform.
You may feel like you are able to work at some jobs and not others. For example, you may not be able to work at a job that requires you to move around or lift objects as a result of your chronic pain, but in other cases you may feel like you are able to work at a desk job.
No matter how you feel about your ability to work, you should strongly consider applying for disability insurance and Canada Pension Plan benefits when you are not working as a result of chronic pain. Even if you are denied, you still may be eligible for benefits after filling a reconsideration request.
You need to be present a convincing case
If chronic pain is your only condition you will need to present a convincing case in order to get your claim approved. If it is one of many conditions that have disabled you, then you have a greater chance.
Working with a legal expert such as Bayda Disability Law Firm can greatly increase your chances of a successful claim, as we have the experience to advise you on what to include in your application, how you should structure it and the type of evidence that you should seek.
Continuous treatment is important for establishing your credibility
You should do your best to receive continuous treatment for your pain condition. This helps to establish credibility. Any serious chronic pain condition will require you to attend multiple doctor’s appointments for treatments and checkups, and you may also attend appointments for alternative treatments or physical therapy.
These treatments need to be documented and included in your application. If you can show a consistent timeline and document your pain treatments it will strengthen your application. However, it is not the only requirement, and even if you can’t show continuous treatment you still may be approved for disability benefits.
For example, your pain may limit your ability to drive yourself to appointments, and you may not have anyone there to drive you. In this case and in several other situations you can still qualify for benefits. Your medical doctor and other medical professionals can provide your disability insurance company with additional statements and information about your ability to get to and from appointments as a part of your application.
Provide details about how your chronic pain limits you
In your application, you will need to describe in as much detail as possible how your daily life is limited as the result of your chronic pain. You should write down all of the unique daily obligations that you have in order to manage your pain.
For example, you may need to rest in bed for a certain number of hours per day as a result of fatigue related to your pain. You may need to stretch or perform physical therapy for one or more hours every day. You may need to apply ice or heat packs or elevate your limbs for a specific period of time.
Think of every single way that your pain limits your daily responsibilities and include it in your application, along with verification from your medical providers.
Provide details about your daily activities
You should also provide as much information about your daily activities as you can with your application. For example, if you are able to take care of your children, perform housework, and drive and run errands in spite of your chronic pain, your disability insurance company will most likely find it difficult to believe that your pain is limiting you from working.
However, if you are resting in bed most of the day, attending doctor’s appointments, and taking the majority of your day to manage or otherwise deal with your pain, you have a much better chance of an approval. Be sure to describe in detail how your chronic pain is affecting your social life and your regular responsibilities.
Even if you are able to do some of the things that you used to, you may still be approved. For instance, you may be able to take care of some of your yardwork or housework, but it might take twice as long. You may be able to go out with friends, but you may not be able to drive yourself and they may have to carry some of your belongings.
Every situation is different, and although your case will be uniquely evaluated, you need to make sure that you are providing as much detail and evidence as you possibly can. You must provide clear reasons and be honest in your application in order to have the greatest chance of success.
However, disability insurance companies must have a clear and convincing reason to deny your claim, and even if your claim is denied you can request a reconsideration or appeal with the help of legal advisors like Bayda Disability Law Firm.
Apply as soon as you can
If your pain is preventing you from being able to work, you should consider applying for benefits as soon as you can. The sooner that you apply the better, because the date that your application is received will affect the date that your benefits start. However, you also need to make sure that your application is as complete as possible.
At Bayda Disability Law Firm we can help you obtain the disability benefits that you deserve. We don’t require you to spend any money upfront and we don’t get paid unless your claim is approved. Even if your disability claim has been denied one or more times, we can help you get the benefits you deserve.
We have experience with handling hundreds of long term disability claims and can greatly improve the chance of success with your application, whether you’re submitting it for the first time or submitting an appeal.
Contact Bayda Disability Law Firm today at 403-670-0070 or 1-855-670-0070 for a free consultation and experienced, helpful advice about your long term disability insurance claim.