6 Ways to Establish Credibility in Disability Lawsuits
Chronic pain is exhausting and debilitating. It can make it difficult to perform expected duties at work, challenging to run a household and even hard to get out of bed in the morning. Many people with chronic pain, whether caused by injury, illness or ongoing conditions such as fibromyalgia or migraine headaches, are unable to work at all.
Chronic pain is also associated with increased rates of depression and suicide, anxiety, stress and disordered sleep. There are treatments available for these issues, but treatment can be costly with medications, and physical and psychological therapies adding up over time.
The problem with fibromyalgia, in long-term disability claims, is that it is invisible. It often can’t be pinpointed by medical tests and its severity can be difficult to prove. It’s no surprise then, that insurance adjusters tend to be skeptical.
In that situation, your case is going to rely on establishing your credibility. There are several ways you can show that your diagnosis and disability are believable, and prove that you are to be trusted:
1. Medical Records from Doctors and Specialists
You will need to provide medical records, x-rays and other test results, to support your claim. A standard form letter confirming your diagnosis likely won’t do the trick but detailed documentation of diagnoses, how long you have been dealing with the symptoms and how the disability limits you, will go a long way toward helping your case. Fibromyalgia is sometimes seen as more believable if it coexists with or is a result of another diagnosis such as rheumatoid arthritis, so records from a specialist may provide more credibility.
2. Physiotherapy or other Treatment Records
Any documentation that shows you have been trying a variety of solutions and dealing with negative side effects to manage your pain, will be seen as evidence supporting your claim. The fact that you are coping with long-term pain will be more substantiated if you also show ongoing treatments.
3. Psychological Records
Since chronic pain can lead to mental health issues, you may have sought help dealing with those as well. These records may help to reinforce validity of the pain and suffering you have stated. Like physical challenges, mental health matters should also be recorded.
4. Independent Physical Examination
The insurer may send you to an independent physician to for an unbiased, expert opinion. If he or she confirms your diagnosis, this will be further evidence in your favour.
Believe it or not, insurance companies may try to disprove your credibility by catching you on camera or watching your social media accounts. If you are filmed doing heavy-duty yard-work when you’ve claimed you are unable to lift 10 lbs, or posting your latest gym workout on Facebook, your credibility will be questioned. The insurer may assume that you have exaggerated the limitations of your disability and deny your claim. Your daily activities should be consistent with your reported diagnosis, symptoms and abilities.
6. Honesty and Consistency
If you are given the opportunity to testify, your statement will be seen as more reliable if the details are in sync with your medical records and previous statements, if applicable.
None of this evidence will make or break your case definitively but making sure your history is well documented and the facts are consistently presented, is helpful.
If you are not sure how to proceed, a long-term disability lawyer can answer your questions, offer knowledge of current and recent cases and guide you through the process of negotiating your benefits, helping you get what you deserve.