A serious back injury can limit your mobility and put you in severe pain. Unfortunately, they can also make it difficult to live your daily life. When you suffer from a painful back injury that inhibits your ability to work, you may need to look to your long-term disability insurance for benefits. However, it can be hard to file a successful claim for your back injury without the help of an experienced disability attorney. They can help walk you through the application process and can assist you in building a solid claim. Generally, a claim for a back injury should show that you are in no condition to work because of your pain and limited mobility. This can be important to note for both physical and sedentary professions.
Common Back Injuries
Back injuries can often come from a wide assortment of sources, from accidents to spinal conditions. Some common causes of back injuries include:
Common Symptoms of Back Injuries
No matter how your injury was caused, the impact of a back injury can be incredibly serious. Debilitating symptoms of a back injury might include:
- Severe pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Postural changes
- Limited range of motion
- Difficulty standing or sitting
- Radiating pain and numbness in the legs
Whether you work in a physical or sedentary job, the symptoms of your back condition can seriously hinder your capacity to work. You may not have the ability to move your body without some amount of pain. This can pose a safety risk in a physical occupation. Additionally, back pain may make it harder to focus on the higher-level tasks at hand.
How Can I Get Long-Term Disability Benefits for My Back Injury?
In order to receive approval for benefits from your insurance company, you will need to prove how your condition hinders your ability to work. Generally, you will need to provide both medical and vocational evidence to support your claim. Your disability attorney can help you compile this content and get it ready for the insurance company to review.
Medical Evidence of Your Back Injury
Medical evidence for any condition usually starts with a diagnosis. This usually includes identifying the cause of your symptoms. As part of the diagnosis, your doctor will likely require some form of imaging testing. This may include X-rays, MRI, or a CT scan. These tests can provide objective medical evidence of your condition. Because of this, results from imaging tests can be important in building your disability claim.
It is important that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms you are feeling as a result of your back condition. They should record your symptoms in their notes for your appointments. Additionally, you may want to consider asking the doctor for an Attending Physician’s Statement. This is a note from the doctor giving their opinion on your condition. The statement can be helpful in providing your insurance company with an expert opinion on your injury.
Vocational evidence refers to information regarding your job, its duties, and your performance. As part of vocational evidence, you may choose to submit a description of the tasks you perform regularly at work. Keep in mind that this is often different than the description your employer would provide for this position. An employer’s job description does not usually capture all of the things that you are tasked with on a daily basis. Nor does it provide information regarding smaller tasks. For example, it may not mention how often you have to leave your desk for the copy machine or mention your commute.
Also part of vocational evidence might include statements from your employer. Additionally, performance reviews might show a decline in productivity since your injury, which can help support your claim. Supportive statements from coworkers can also be beneficial.
Functional Capacity Evaluations and Your Injury
Your disability attorney may suggest that you take a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). A Functional Capacity Evaluation is a series of tests that can quantifiably measure your physical limitations. This test can help provide a lot of data to the insurance company regarding your ability to lift, carry, move, sit, stand, and more. Overall, the test determines how much your injuries can limit your ability to perform work tasks.
An FCE is run by a trained medical professional. Usually, the test is given by an occupational therapist or a rehabilitation physician. Often, it is given over the course of 1 to 2 days. For each day of your evaluation, you should expect to spend the whole day at the facility. Most disability attorneys will recommend that you take a 2-day exam. The 2-day evaluation will be much more effective in informing your facilitator of your capacity for activity over a sustained period. It also allows them to compare a decrease in functional ability over the 2 days. This helps insurers see why you can not sustain functional ability over a work week.