If you’re suffering from a disability, you may be wondering whether you’re disabled enough to qualify for benefits. How can you figure out how your claim will be evaluated?
The key is to show that you have symptoms that prevent you from performing the key duties of your job. It’s not enough to show that you have a specific disability or illness. Many people can still work despite suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
Here’s a guide to whether your symptoms are severe enough to qualify as a long-term disability and what evidence you’ll need to support your disability claim.
Can my pain qualify for disability benefits?
The frustrating answer to the question of whether pain qualifies you for disability benefits is maybe. No two people experience pain in the same way. The way you feel pain will depend on a variety of factors, including your gender, genetic makeup, and psychological profile.
You may also feel different types of pain depending on your injury or illness. You may suffer from chronic pain, which can last for months or even years. Or you may suffer an injury that causes sudden, severe pain. This acute pain is typically short-term.
No matter which type of pain you’re suffering, it can interfere with your ability to work. It can be hard to prove that your pain is disabling, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Take these steps to establish that your pain has reached a disabling level:
- Obtain treatment. If your pain isn’t severe enough for you to see a medical professional, an insurer is likely to think your pain isn’t severe enough to interfere with your work.
- Document your pain with medical testing. An MRI or other objective test can show that you have underlying causes of pain.
- Keep a pain diary. Record every time you feel pain. You should rate your pain’s severity on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst. Also document what caused the pain and what, if anything, increased your pain.
Can my physical limitations qualify for disability benefits?
The key to physical limitations becoming sufficiently disabling to qualify for benefits is the extent to which they prevent you from performing your job. If your limitations keep you from performing a major duty of your job, such as standing, sitting, walking, hearing, speaking, driving, using a computer, or reading, it’s likely that they’ll be considered disabling.
For example, you may suffer from a low back injury that compromises your ability to lift anything over 10 pounds or sit or stand for long periods of time. Or you may suffer from tinnitus that prevents you from hearing.
To establish that you’re sufficiently limited, you should see a doctor. The doctor can document why you’re suffering from physical limitations and conduct tests to help you prove the extent of your limitations.
Can fatigue qualify for disability benefits?
We all feel tired from time to time. But fatigue goes beyond simply feeling tired. When you’re fatigued, you’re exhausted to the point that you can’t even do simple tasks. Disabling fatigue can last for days and weeks. And it can prevent you from doing physical work and limit your ability to focus on your job responsibilities.
It can be difficult to establish fatigue sufficient to qualify for disability benefits. If you suffer from fatigue, see a medical professional who can document the cause of your fatigue. If you have records showing that you suffer from a disease that causes fatigue, an insurer may accept that as objective proof of your limitations.
You may also want to get a test that assesses your stamina and ability to perform physical tasks, such as a functional capacity evaluation or cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Keeping a fatigue diary can also document how fatigue affects your daily activities.
Can cognitive impairment qualify for disability benefits?
A deficit in your memory, concentration, or processing speed can prevent you from meeting your job expectations. This is especially true if you’re in a professional or executive role.
Establishing cognitive impairment is easier than documenting fatigue and pain. A psychologist or neuropsychologist can help you prove impairment. They can conduct a mental status examination that reviews your appearance, behavior, speech, thought process, cognition, insight, judgment, and much more. Additional neuropsychological testing can build credibility for your claim. This testing can review your intellectual functioning, including your comprehension, processing speed, perceptual organization, attention, memory, learning, motor skills, and emotions and behaviors.
What to do if you aren’t sure about how to establish disabling symptoms
If you’re worried about whether your symptoms qualify for a long-term disability claim, don’t try to go it alone. An experienced long-term disability lawyer can help you decide what documents, tests, and other evidence you need to support your claim.
Reach out to the disability lawyers at Hunter & Everage for help in deciding your best course of action.