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Pursuing Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain in Ohio

Woman suffering from chronic pain in her neck.

According to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 20 percent of Americans live with chronic pain. Nearly 20 million of those individuals suffer from high-impact pain. In other words, they suffer from pain that significantly reduces their ability to carry on their daily life activities, including going to work.

Pain can have many causes. Medical conditions like fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, or a hernia can all lead to ongoing and persistent pain. Chronic pain can also result from idiopathic, or unexplainable conditions.

If you suffer from chronic pain, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. However, to establish your eligibility, you will need to show that you suffer from a medical condition that causes the pain. In other words, applying for benefits and claiming that you have lingering pain from an “old injury” typically will not suffice.

Common Examples of Chronic Pain that Can Prevent You from Working

Countless medical conditions can cause chronic and persistent pain. Those causes can include medical conditions such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Spinal surgeries
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Shingles
  • AIDS.

Some of these medical conditions are easier to establish than others. For instance, if you are diagnosed with cancer, you will likely have volumes of medical records to establish your diagnosis. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may still deny your claim for pain-related disability benefits unless you can show a connection between cancer and pain.

This is where it can help to have an experienced attorney at your side. The attorney can help you to prepare your application for benefits and ensure that reviewers have the medical information they need to decide your claim for benefits. The attorney can also help you to effectively appeal the denial of your claim.

Can You Get Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain in Ohio?

In reality, most disability claims are initially denied. If you receive a denial of your claim, you should know that you can appeal. Once you receive a denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you should contact the attorneys of Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., L.P.A. Our attorneys have decades of experience with helping clients throughout Northeastern Ohio’s Mahoning Valley to pursue the disability benefits which they deserve.

To succeed in a pain-related disability benefits claim, here are a few of the hurdles that you must clear:

  • Underlying diagnosis – First, you will need to provide proof of a medical diagnosis that clearly demonstrates why you are in pain. The diagnosis can cover an illness, injury, or a combination of both.
  • Mental condition – Some people suffer from psychological conditions that can create the feeling of pain. These somatoform disorders can cause people to experience real pain sensations even without a clear physical reason. To prove this type of disorder, you will need solid medical evidence.
  • Time – In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you will also need to show that your impairment is not temporary. You can do this by demonstrating that you have experienced the condition for at least one year, or by showing that your condition is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

Often, successful claimants have more than a year’s worth of medical records showing numerous visits to their doctors, with the same complaints of pain at each visit. These records can establish that the condition is not limited to a fluctuating or temporary impairment, but instead, it is a permanent condition.

The Disability Appeals Process in Ohio

Many people in Ohio receive a denial when they first apply for disability benefits for chronic pain. Our attorneys understand the frustration that many of our clients feel when they get a denial. However, as we tell our clients, a denial is not the end. You can appeal and continue to fight for the benefits that you deserve.

However, after a denial, you don’t want to wait too long to take action. Here are the steps you can take:

  • File a request for reconsideration – You have just 60 days to file a request for reconsideration, which is the first level of appeal. Failure to meet this deadline means that you can lose any potential for retroactive pay, and you must start over in the claims process. You have a five-day window for mailing the documents, but you should never cut it this close. Talk with an attorney immediately about filing this request.
  • Request a hearing – The vast majority of requests for reconsideration are denied. In fact, claims are denied at higher rates at this stage than they are at the initial application stage. If your claim is denied, the next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will review the evidence and listen to you and your attorney argue for why you are entitled to benefits. Again, just as with the request for reconsideration, you will have just 60 days after the date of denial to give notice of appeal and request your hearing in front of an ALJ.

If an ALJ denies your claim, you can continue to pursue your appeal by requesting review by the SSA Appeals Council and, if necessary, by filing a lawsuit in the nearest U.S. District Court.

How Can an Ohio Disability Benefits Lawyer Help You?

It is almost always better to preserve your appeal and proceed through the appeals process rather than to start a new claim. It can take a very long time to successfully obtain your benefits. Once your claim is approved, however, you could be entitled to significant back pay.

A disability benefits lawyer can pursue your appeal in a timely manner, navigate the process on your behalf and preserve your right to back pay while letting you focus on your health and your family. You will enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having an experienced and dedicated team of Ohio disability lawyers on your side. To learn more about pursuing disability benefits for chronic pain, contact Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., P.A., and get started with a free consultation.