Chronic pain can be related to a variety of conductions including joint issues, nerve damage, fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), spinal problems, post-surgical complications, and cancer. While certain diagnoses can be more clearly associated with a disabling level of pain, pain is usually a subjective symptom. For example, a person with degenerative disc disease will be able to show evidence of their diagnosis through an MRI or X-ray; however, this kind of imaging cannot necessarily measure what level of pain a particular individual is experiencing. In some cases, people may experience a more severe level of pain than others with the same diagnosis. Pain may also not be clearly associated with a particular condition or diagnosis. Pain can be due to tangled combination of factors that may not be very well understood.
Consequently, although many disability insurance policies seek “objective” proof of disability, in some cases objective medical evidence simply is not available due to the nature of the condition. Even without the type of documentation that is typically considered objective medical evidence of disability (like lab tests and imaging scans), a person with chronic pain may very well still qualify for disability insurance benefits.
In fact, in a recent Kantor and Kantor victory in the case of Hamid v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in the Northern District of California, the court reaffirmed that objective evidence is not required to prove disability. The court cited to prior case precedents to explain that, for medical conditions that are difficult to quantify through labs or imaging scans, benefits cannot be denied simply because quantifiable documentation is not available.
The medical condition in Hamid’s case involved head pain and migraine headaches and the claimant’s MRI and X-ray results appeared mostly normal. The court, however, pointed to several facts that supported his case for disability including the claimant’s long history of consistently reported symptoms, his pursuit of multiple treatments from different specialists including undergoing multiple surgeries and taking prescription pain medications, corroborating letters from treating providers, and supporting statements from coworkers and family members.
Disability cases involving chronic pain conditions often hinge on the individual’s credibility and alternative objective indicators rather than what is typically considered “objective medical evidence.”
If this sounds familiar for yourself of a loved one, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at 800-446-7529 or use our online contact form.