COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME & SSDI
WHAT IS COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME?
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by severe pain and swelling in the affected area of the body. The cause of CRPS is not known, but it is believed to be caused by an abnormal reaction to an injury or trauma. Treatment options for CRPS include physical therapy, medications, nerve blocks, and even surgery. Understanding this condition can help individuals manage their symptoms and get the treatment they need.
CRPS mostly affects people over the age of 18, but it may also affect children, teenagers, and older adults. The condition affects people of all genders. Doctors believe that CRPS affects nearly one in every 2,000 people. CRPS can affect any part of the body, but normally the pain occurs on the arm or leg. CRPS is more likely to occur after a trauma like a crush injury or a burn. Other possible triggers include nerve damage, stroke, and diabetes. Find out more about how the SSA evaluates pain here.
The most important thing to remember is that you can receive benefits for complex regional pain syndrome. However, it will be easier for you to go through the Social Security process with the help of an SSD attorney. Cannon Disability Law has the legal experience you need in order to win your SSDI and SSI benefits. Contact us today.
SYMPTOMS OF COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME
The SSA will look to your medical records to document the symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome. The first thing they will look for are persistent complaints of pain that, despite treatment, are ongoing. Symptoms may change over time and, of course, they vary from person to person. However, pain, swelling, redness, and hypersensitivity at the site of injury usually occur first. For example, the signs and symptoms of CRPS include:
- chronic burning or throbbing pain, usually in the arm, hand, leg or foot
- sensitivity to touch
- swelling at the injury site
- changes in skin temperature
- skin color changes at the injury site, from white and blotchy to red or blue
- changes in hair and nail growth
- skin texture changes, such as thin or shiny skin at the injury site
- joint stiffness and immobility of the joint
- muscle spasms and tremors
- weakness and atrophy at the injury site
- decreased ability to move the injured body part
In our law office, we won benefits for a client with complex regional pain syndrome who had a crush injury to his foot. This client was a miner whose leg and foot were crushed when a mine wall collapsed at the mine where he worked. His leg was operated on and the bone repaired. However, his foot, though treated, gave him constant severe radiating pain. He had to walk with a cane and lost mobility in his foot. The skin on his foot looked glassy and his foot was swollen and red. He wasn’t able to wear a shoe because of the pain and sensitivity in the foot. Unfortunately, he didn’t receive early treatment to prevent complex regional pain syndrome.
HOW TO ESTABLISH SSA’S DURATIONAL REQUIREMENT
In order to win SSDI and SSI benefits, the SSA will look to see if there are ongoing medical records documenting your symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome. The records must show that you have had the condition for a year or more. This is SSA’s durational requirement.
Complex regional pain syndrome may remain the same, improve, or get worse. Your medical records should include your the medical observations of your doctor about your condition. They should also include your treatment records and your response to treatment. Additionally, your doctor should discuss any complications you have had with treatment. Finally, the record should include a detailed description of how your complex regional pain syndrome impacts your ability to function and sustain work activity over time.
Chronic pain and many of the medications that treat it may affect your ability to maintain attention and concentration. They may also affect your cognition, mood, and behavior, and may even reduce motor reaction times. These factors can interfere with your ability to work. When evaluating duration and severity, as well as your residual functional capacity (RFC), the effects of chronic pain and the use of pain medications must be carefully considered by the SSA.
THREE TYPES OF COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME
There are three types of complex regional pain syndrome. Type 1 and Type 2 have similar symptoms in terms of their onset, duration, and intensity. However, there are some key differences between them that can help in treating each type. While both types involve severe pain, swelling, and changes to the skin temperature and color, CRPS Type 2 also involves changes in movement and sensation of the injury site. Type 3 is a rare condition that usually involves neck pain. Understanding these differences is important to your diagnosis and the treatment for your condition.
Type 1 complex regional pain syndrome is a debilitating condition that affects the nerves and causes intense, chronic pain. It occurs when the patient has an abnormal response to injury or trauma. Symptoms include burning pain, swelling, stiffness and changes in skin temperature and color. CRPS Type 1 can occur in any part of the body, but it occurs most often in the arms and legs. It can be difficult to diagnose Type 1 the symptoms may mimic other conditions. This makes it important for your doctor to have a thorough understanding of this condition.
CRPS Type 1 causes nerve inflammation that results in the release of chemicals that cause pain and other unpleasant symptoms, including changes in skin temperature and color. Type 1 manifests itself as tingling and stabbing pain, swelling, redness, and a thickening of the skin on an extremity. These symptoms can also be accompanied by changes in sensation such as numbness or tingling. The syndrome is often difficult to diagnose because it is similar to other conditions like arthritis or tumors. Doctors will often misdiagnose patients with peripheral neuropathy until their symptoms worsen.
CRPS Type 2 is usually caused by burns, amputation, or a crush injury. With CRPS2, pain will normally stay at the injury site. This means that if you experience a nerve injury in your leg, the pain remains in your leg and does not radiate to other parts of the body.
Complex regional pain syndrome Type 2 is a chronic neuroinflammatory disorder that affects the body’s peripheral nerves and causes severe and persistent pain. It is known as a condition that brings more than just pain. For example, CRPS Type 2 also brings changes in movement and sensation, as well as autonomic dysfunction, including sweating and temperature changes at the injury site. It can also lead to other physical and mental conditions, such as anxiety disorder or depression.
A mental exam may be requested by your doctor to determine if you have an undiagnosed psychiatric disease that might contribute to a reduced pain tolerance. It is important to recognize that a mental exam is not being done because your doctor doesn’t believe your pain symptoms. Instead, the behavioral and cognitive effects of the medications used to treat pain need to be considered in the evaluation of this syndrome.
Complex regional pain syndrome Type 3 is a rare condition that can cause intense chronic pain in the neck or cervical spine. It is a progressive disorder that usually begins with an injury to the neck area, such as a whiplash or neck sprain. Symptoms of Type 3 include persistent burning pain, swelling and stiffness at the injury site. Fortunately, early intervention and treatment can help reduce the severity of these symptoms.
Some signs and symptoms of CRPS Type 3 include severe burning pain that can cause swelling, stiffness and tingling in the affected area. Additionally, you may experience ringing in the ears and dizziness. Also, you may have neurological problems such as a feeling that there is something stuck under the skin of the neck or back. Some people have slowed speech, hoarseness or difficulty swallowing . Finally, most people who have CRPS Type 3 have swelling in the extremities, sensitivity to touch, and pain from clothing brushing against the injury site.
TREATMENT FOR COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME
The treatment for complex regional pain syndrome includes programs that increase mobility and use of the affected limb. People have a better prognosis when they receive an early diagnosis and mobility is immediately encouraged. Some patients are able to be more active when they have a sympathetic nerve block that reduces their pain. This allows them to move without intense pain and increase the mobility of the affected region. Various analgesics, including narcotics and neurostimulators, may also be used to minimize pain.
Other types of medications may be used by your doctor to reduce your pain. For example, antidepressant medications, muscle relaxers, and other drugs may reduce the signs and symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome. Patients who have a good response to sympathetic nerve blocks may respond well to surgical sympathectomy.
Additionally, your doctor may request that you have a mental evaluation. If you have mental conditions that can improve through treatment, then it may improve your pain tolerance. If your doctor does send you to a mental exam, it is not because your pain symptoms are imaginary. Instead, your doctor is trying to treat your pain symptoms by also treating any mental conditions.
WHAT MEDICAL EVIDENCE DO YOU NEED TO WIN BENEFITS FOR COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME?
The SSA discusses how they evaluate complex regional pain syndrome in Social Security Ruling 03-2p. They state, in order to win SSDI and SSI benefits, you must not be able to work for more than 12 month due to your symptoms. Next, you will need to submit medical evidence that starts with your injury and covers the period of time you have been off work.
The SSA will look at the merits of your claim based upon your medical evidence. If they feel they do not have enough medical evidence to make a decision, then they might send you to a Consultative Examination. The point of the exam is for the doctor to give the SSA an understanding of your symptoms, as well as examine your injury site.
The SSA may schedule you for a physical or mental exam. You do not need to pay for this exam, because the SSA pays the doctor for the exam they order. They will use the exam results to decide whether or not to pay you benefits. You can find more information about consultative exams here.
During a physical exam, the doctor may ask you how many pounds you can lift. The doctor is asking how many pounds you can lift repetitively throughout the course of an 8 hour workday. If you have problems with an upper extremity, it is unlikely that you could lift more than 10 pounds on the job. Especially, when you are working over an eight hour period of time. Likewise, if your CRPS affects your lower extremity, you may not be able to sit or stand for long periods. Make sure the doctor understand this. Be realistic when you are answering the doctors questions. And, explain to the doctor what symptoms are keeping you from work.
COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME IMPACTS YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY
There is no SSA listing for complex regional pain syndrome. Therefore, in order to receive SSI and SSDI benefits, you must show that your residual functional capacity (RFC) keeps you from working. Your RFC is the medical assessment of what you can physically and mentally do in a work setting, considering the symptoms of your complex regional pain syndrome.
Your RFC includes both your physical and mental limitations. In terms of physical limits, the SSA tries to define your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift, during the course of an 8 hour workday. Likewise, the SSA will include your ability to carry, pull, and push. For example, if you have a foot injury and cannot walk without a cane, this will eliminate certain types of work. The same is true if you have a hand injury. Many jobs require the good use of both hands. Find out more about how the SSA defines work here.
In order to define your physical RFC, the SSA will examine your medical records. They will take into account what your doctor states about your ability to work. Additionally, the SSA has their own doctors that review your medical records, but never meet or examine you. These doctors are paid by the SSA and work for DDS, the state agency who reviews all cases. The SSA will take the medical opinion of these doctors into account too.
The SSA will also consider descriptions of your symptoms from your family and friends. Find out more information about what types of evidence the SSA must consider here. For example, your family or friends could write a statement about the limiting effects of the symptoms of your complex regional pain syndrome. Find out more here about RFC and how it combines with age to eliminate work.
HOW TO APPLY FOR SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS FOR COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME
Applying for SSDI benefits can be a difficult process, especially if you have complex regional pain syndrome. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the SSDI and SSI application process easier.
First, you can apply for SSDI and SSI benefits by going online at Social Security’s website. There, you will be able to fill out the SSA’s application and answer the SSA’s questions online. You can also call the Social Security Administration’s toll free number at 800.772.1213. They can help you start your application and send you a paper application, if you want to fill out your application by hand. You can also download the application forms from SSA’s website. Also, you can go into the local SSA office to complete forms, but you will be in for a long wait if you do it that way.
Finally, the application experts at Cannon Disability Law can help you complete your application for SSDI and SSI benefits. We can also help you complete any appeal forms that you may receive later in the process. Hiring an attorney at the outset of your case is a smart idea. We have years of experience filling out SSA’s complex paperwork and you want it done right from the beginning. Therefore, give us a call and we will help.
HOW TO FIND A FREE OR LOW COST DOCTOR TO TREAT YOUR CRPS
It is important to submit your entire medical history, beginning with your complex regional pain syndrome diagnosis, to the SSA. This includes any treatments you have had, such as nerve blocks, medication, physical therapy and surgery. Also, the SSA needs to know how long you have been in treatment and if your treatment is working.
If you do not have a treating doctor who can perform tests and treat you, then you need to find one. On our website, we have a list of free health clinics. You can call these resources and many of them will see you for free or for low cost. Also, they can refer you to an expert in pain management. Below you will find a list of medical resources in your state:
- Utah Free Health Clinics
- Nevada Free Health Resources
- Colorado Free Medical Resources
- California Free Healthcare Resources
- Idaho Free Health Services
Medical records are the evidence that proves you deserve benefits for your complex regional pain syndrome. You cannot win benefits by telling the SSA you can’t work, even if you have your mother write a letter that supports your statements. Also, going to your doctor twice a year will not help your case. Even if there is nothing a doctor can do except treat your symptoms and pain, you must have medical evidence proving you cannot work due to your symptoms. Without ongoing medical evidence, you will not win SSDI or SSI benefits.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
If you have complex regional pain syndrome, then please know that you do not need to go through the Social Security process by yourself. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. Cannon Disability Law can help you file your application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSDI and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to testify at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the vocational and medical witnesses.
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of a decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it in pen and send it back as soon as you can. Benefits are tied to the date you apply. Therefore, every day you wait to apply is a day you lose benefits.
YOU ONLY PAY ATTORNEY FEES IF YOU WIN BENEFITS
The SSA has capped attorney fees in Social Security cases at 25% of your past due or back benefit or $7200, which ever amount is less. This is the most your attorney can charge you after wining your c at the hearing level or below.
For example, if your attorney wins your SSDI case and your back benefit is $10,000, then the attorney fee will be 25% of the back benefit, or $2500. In such a case, you would not pay the $7200 cap. Instead, the attorney fee is 25% of the back benefit, which is less than the cap. This is what happens in most SSDI and SSI cases.
In another example, if you attorney wins your SSDI case and your back benefit is $100,000, the attorney fee is not $25,000, which is 25% of the back benefit. Instead, the attorney fee would be $7200. Because $7200 is the most your attorney can charge you after winning your case at the hearing level or below. That is true even if 25% is higher than the $7200 cap.
Additionally, your attorney can only charge an attorney fee if they win your case. In other words, if you do not win your benefits, then you do not pay an attorney fee. This means that your attorney has worked for up to two years on your case for free. So, if you don’t get benefits, your attorney doesn’t get paid. Obviously, your attorney has a good incentive to win your case. This type of attorney fee is known as a contingency fee, because it is contingent on winning your case.
IS IT WORTH THE ATTORNEY FEE TO HIRE AN SSD LAWYER?
It isn’t easy to get Social Security benefits and the application process can be frustrating for most people. But, having an attorney throughout the process can be invaluable. It is our belief that when you have a law firm with experience handling Social Security cases, then the SSA makes sure that they follow their own procedures. For example, we can make them apply the rules they outline in their Social Security Ruling on complex regional pain syndrome.
Additionally, when you have an attorney with legal experience, they will have access to Social Security’s decisions throughout the process. They can submit medical evidence that may be missing from your case and advocate on your behalf.
There is evidence that hiring an attorney with the proper legal experience raises your chances of winning your SSDI and SSI benefits by 30%. It is also smart to hire an attorney to help you at your hearing. After all, you are the star witness in court. If you hire an attorney with experience, they can prepare you to be a good witness. This is particularly important in the case of complex regional pain syndrome, because so much of the proof in your case depends upon your experience of pain and your specific symptoms. Giving credible testimony will be crucial to winning your case. You can learn more about how to prepare for your hearing here.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY LAW FOR OUR SUCCESS RATE & LEGAL EXPERIENCE
The SSA benefits process for complex regional pain syndrome can be long and complicated. Hire Cannon Disability Law to give you legal advice and walk you through the process. In the past 30 years, we have won millions of dollars in ongoing and past due benefits. We have also won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients.
If you want to win benefits, then hire an attorney with the legal experience to win your case. You can hire us for no money down, because we work on a contingency basis. This means we do not charge you any money up front for you to become our client. Then, you only pay us an attorney fee when you win benefits. If you don’t win, you don’t pay an attorney fee. If you want to learn more about how attorney fees work in this process, then read here. For help, contact us today.
If you want to learn more about our lawyers and staff, then read our About Us page. For example, you can learn about Andria Summers, who has 21 years of experience working at Cannon Disability Law. She has won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases. Also, she can also help you with your Medicare advantage plan.
Additionally, Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefits for over thirty years. Ms. Cannon has over 30 years of Federal Court experience. Brett Bunkall also has legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSDI benefits. We are Social Security law experts. You can trust us to help you win your benefits for complex regional pain syndrome. We will do our best to make the difficult process of winning benefits as easy as possible for you.