One of the more frustrating aspects of disability law is meeting clients who clearly have severe medical issues that are keeping them from working, yet their physicians can’t quite pinpoint a diagnosis.
A common situation is a claimant suffering from severe pain. X-rays and MRIs might be normal, but the individual can still have severe muscle pain all over their body.
Many doctors will diagnose fibromyalgia at that point, but others will refer to it as chronic pain syndrome, or maybe something even more vague.
Another type of case that I see involves seizure disorders. Individuals may frequently fall to the ground and appear to have the typical grand mal seizure, yet no objective test shows epilepsy or any known cause for the seizure. In those cases, doctors will typically diagnose pseudoseizures or seizures with an unknown cause.
In both situations, these are severe medical conditions that are keeping the individual from working, but they lack the objective evidence that Social Security needs to evaluate claims.
That lack of evidence doesn’t doom a case like these, but it does make them harder to win. Social Security likes to see clear diagnoses like degenerative disk disease or epilepsy.
The first step is to get some sort of diagnosis. A diagnosis of chronic pain syndrome, for example, can at least ensure Social Security can find that a medically determinable impairment exists, which is the first step to proving a claim.
After that, it’s all about documentation. Doctors may not be able to say they know where a condition to comes from, but if you regularly see them, document your symptoms, and follow their treatment recommendations, it will improve your chances of being awarded disability benefits.