September is Pain Awareness Month. Anyone suffering from chronic pain knows the devastating effect it can have on quality of life. Many medical professionals define chronic pain as lasting 3 to 6 months, or longer. Here are 5 facts to keep in mind when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits with a chronic pain condition.
- Your age and work history are important.
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must be between 21 and full retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). You also must have worked at least five of the last 10 years and paid FICA taxes during that time.
- Having chronic pain, by itself, is not enough.
Your chronic pain must be severe enough to keep you from working for at least 12 months, or longer. Part of Social Security’s 5-step evaluation process for SSDI benefits is to confirm that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Social Security’s rules allow you to earn up to $1,180 per month and is strictly enforced. To apply for SSDI involves proving that your medical condition prevents you from working and earning more than SGA. Your medical records must include specific information, such as lab tests, x-rays, or physical exam results.
- Pain related to a condition on SSA’s Compassionate Allowances (CAL) list can speed up your approval.
The CAL program has grown to a list of 233 conditions. Qualifying impairments include brain disorders and types of cancer that can put your application for SSDI benefits on the fast track for approval. Approval for disability benefits can happen within weeks of medical confirmation of a diagnosis, versus months or years.
- Documenting how chronic pain affects your life is critical.
It’s important to explain how your chronic pain disrupts your activities of daily living (ADL), which can include personal hygiene, meal preparation, shopping and other activities. Your state Disability Determination Services (DDS) office gathers information through the ADL questionnaire to know more about the nature of your condition on a day-to-day basis.
- Hiring a disability expert can make a big difference.
Don’t overlook the convenience of working with an expert disability representative. Using empower, our online application tool, makes it even easier to gather all of this information. With Allsup, help ensure you are giving timely, accurate and relevant information to Social Security, and improve your chances of receiving benefits by 50% with your initial application.
To learn about your eligibility for SSDI benefits, take the free assessment.