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Ways to document hard-to-prove symptoms and disabilities

According to its website, the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability includes a functional approach. Unfortunately, applicants for Social Security disability insurance who have hard-to-prove conditions may still have difficulty compiling adequate evidence to prove the extent of their impairment. 

In fact, a recent article suggests that some of the difficulty in talking about pain may be inherent to our culture and language. In the post-anesthetic world of modern medicine, pain is regarded as something that should be eradicated, making words to describe pain even more unnecessary. With technology like magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography and other tests, doctors confirm that science is now the preferred method for diagnosing symptoms. A patient’s subjective descriptions of his or her pain may not seem nearly as important in the diagnostic process.

Yet the fact remains that many autoimmune disorders and chronic pain disabilities are not yet understood. Said another way, science does not understand the cause of such disabilities, let alone their cures. Even treatment of pain symptoms is ineffectual in many cases. For example, many fibromyalgia patients report little to no improvement in their pain management under currently available prescription medications.

Being unable to work because of a physical or mental disability is extremely frustrating. Workers that have paid into the system deserve to receive SSDI payments during times of misfortune. Yet not being able to find the right language or ways to document pain symptoms and other functional limitations can add insult to injury. Fortunately, an attorney who focuses on disability benefits will know strategies for preparing the strongest possible SSDI application. 

Source: The New York Times, “How to Talk About Pain,” Joanna Bourke, July 12, 2014

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