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ERISA • Employment Law

Chronic Pain: A New Appreciation

01 Dec 2016

Today, I have a new-found appreciation of pain and what individuals with chronic pain conditions must experience.  I am very fortunate that I have spent most of my life pain-free.  Sure, I have had injuries, some surgery, and moments of pain, but I have never experienced truly debilitating or chronic pain.  That is, until this morning.

Last night I felt a twinge in my back while doing some work around the house.  It hurt, but I did not think much of it and expected it feel better in the morning.  It did not feel better.  Instead, the pain woke me several times in the middle of the night.  It spread from under my shoulder blade to my neck and down to the bottom of my ribs.  I could not roll over in bed.  I had back and neck spasms throughout the night.

This morning, I needed help just getting out of bed.  I could not sit up by myself.  I had muscle spasms in my neck and back as I walked from my bed to my kitchen for a cup of coffee.  Unfortunately, even the act of lifting a coffee mug sent shooting pains down my arms and neck.  After some ibuprofen kicked in and I took a hot shower, I felt a bit better.  I went to work and then to the doctor later this morning.  Fortunately for me, I only have a sprain or strain and perhaps a pinched nerve.  The pain I am experiencing can be treated with muscle relaxers and ibuprofen.  It should resolve in a couple of days, and I will be thankful when it does.

I started this firm to represent, among others, individuals who have had their claims for disability benefits denied under their employer-sponsored short or long term disability plan.  Oftentimes, individuals with chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or migraine headaches have their disability benefit claim denied because they cannot produce “objectively verifiable” evidence of the disabling nature of their pain.  Given how I have felt over the last 18 hours or so, I have a new-found appreciation for how people afflicted with disabling chronic pain must feel.  To experience disabling chronic pain on a daily basis and to be told that such pain is not disabling because there is no “objective” diagnostic evidence of it is not just wrong, it is cruel.

If you have had a short term or long term disability benefit claim denied because you could not produce “objective evidence” of a disabling condition like chronic pain or migraine headaches, you may still have a valid claim for benefits.  It is important you speak with an attorney who understands ERISA (the law governing most employer-sponsored employee benefit plans) to assess the merits of your claim.  We are available to consult with you.  Please click here to send us an email, or call our office at (215) 645-5955.

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Mr. Garner is an ERISA employee benefits and employment attorney with over a decade of experience. The laws governing employee benefits, the employment relationship, and the workplace are complex.

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