Proving Disability Based On Chronic Pain

New York Disability Attorneys Explain the Challenge of Proving Chronic Pain


At Hiller, PC, our New York disability attorneys understand that pain can be debilitating, but convincing the insurance company that your pain is “disabling,” to the extent that it qualifies you for benefits, can be a difficult task.

Chronic Pain Disorders


Chronic pain – persistent, long-lasting pain – may be the direct result of a specific injury or medical condition, or it may have no specifically identifiable origin. Common sources of chronic pain include:

  • Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis;
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Neuropathy and;
  • Multiple sclerosis

Proving Chronic Pain


Objective medical tests (blood tests and other lab work; X-rays or other images) can establish that you have a condition that is known to cause chronic pain. Your doctor’s clinical examination also can serve as objective medical evidence of your pain.

Establishing the disabling nature of your pain, however, is more challenging because pain is subjective. No single test can accurately and objectively measure the intensity and severity of a person’s pain. Consequently, insurance companies tend to be highly skeptical of claims of disabling pain.

Proving Your Chronic Pain is Disabling


There are several effective means of documenting the disabling nature of your chronic pain.

Regular medical treatment. A key indicator of the nature of your pain is your medical treatment history. See your treating doctor regularly, and don’t make a habit of missing or rescheduling appointments. Tell your doctor all of your symptoms, to ensure that your medical record accurately reflects your pain, and follow up with your doctor or a specialist, as directed. Finally, keep a calendar dedicated solely to tracking your medical appointments; be sure to note any unscheduled emergency treatment. The paper trail that supports your medical treatment will be strong evidence of the disabling nature of your pain.

Pain medication. Did your treating doctor prescribe pain medication? Your medication regimen is an excellent indicator of your pain. One easy way to track your medication is to save all of your empty prescription bottles. In addition, pay attention to how much over-the-counter pain medication are you taking. When and why are you taking these pain relievers? Keep a written record so you can tell your doctor and your New York disability attorney.

Pain diary. A pain diary can be the most compelling evidence of the disabling nature of your pain. A pain diary can take many forms; any means of regularly recording your pain symptoms will serve this purpose. Use your pain diary to record, for example:

  • When the pain occurs;
  • The intensity, severity and duration of the pain;
  • What, if anything, helps to alleviate the pain;
  • The impact of your pain on your ability to sleep;
  • The impact of your pain on your daily activities; and
  • Negative side-effects of pain medications you are taking.

Use your diary to tell the story of your life with chronic pain. The more details you provide, the more compelling your story will be. While your inability to work is the primary issue on which your disability claim turns, your general inability to perform common daily tasks may be an even better indicator of how severe your chronic pain actually is.

Contact the Experienced New York Disability Attorneys at Hiller, PC


Dealing with your disability insurance carrier can be a frustrating experience. Regardless of the amount of evidence you submit, the carrier may ask you to provide more documentation to support your claim or even to submit to an examination by a doctor chosen by the carrier.

If you are contemplating filing a claim for long-term disability benefits based on your chronic pain, or if you already have filed and your claim has been denied, contact us. We can evaluate your situation and help you gather persuasive evidence of the disabling nature of your pain. For a free case evaluation, call our New York disability attorneys today, at (212) 319-4000, or contact us via email by completing the form on this page.