Living with chronic pain can make even the simplest tasks feel like you're climbing a mountain. That dull, persistent ache or sharp, piercing pain is your uninvited and unruly sidekick. Staggeringly, 20% of Canadians grapple with chronic pain, regularly impacting their quality of life and mental well-being. So, is chronic pain a disability in Canada? Could someone with chronic pain qualify for disability benefits?
This blog is your torch in the dark, illuminating the ambiguous corners of chronic pain, its classification as a disability in Canada, and how it may qualify you for the Disability Tax Credit.
Now, what do I mean when I say "chronic pain"? If you've ever slammed your finger in the door, twisted your ankle on a run, or woken up with the mother of all headaches, you may think you know pain. But let me assure you, chronic pain is in a league of its own.
Not to discredit the pain you've experienced from those unpleasant incidents, but chronic pain is powerful and persistent—it doesn’t give you a rain check. Unlike a transient throbbing of a twisted ankle, chronic pain may stick around for weeks, months, or, more disruptively, for years at a stretch.
It could be a constant dull ache or sporadic incidences of agonizing, teeth-clenching pain. Either way, it can grind away at your resilience, affect your mental health, and profoundly restrict your day-to-day life.
In medical terms, chronic pain is pain that persists for more than 12 weeks despite medical treatment or medication interventions.
This pain is often lumped together with diagnoses like fibromyalgia. Or you might get altogether dismissed because “we can't find anything wrong with you".
Thus chronic pain is often an invisible illness -- a medical condition that is not immediately apparent or visible to others. Though the affected individual may suffer from significant symptoms, there are no outward signs of the ailment or disability.
Those with chronic pain often bear the weight of this pain hidden under the guise of normalcy. No visible injury, no obvious markers, and yet, they're wrestling with this invisible adversary daily.
One chronic pain sufferer writes:
“When the pain reached the point of making it impossible to work more than on a very part-time basis most weeks, I began to inquire about disability. But my doctors — the same ones who diagnosed me, treated me, and viewed my MRI results — all shook their heads and refused to sign off on any paperwork.”
Some have chronic pain stemming from a specific, identifiable root, while others are left with the baffling mystery of pain making an unwarranted appearance without any clear root cause.
All said and done, one truth stands — living with chronic pain is a strenuous, exhausting, and daunting battle.
Medical professionals simply don’t know what causes chronic pain conditions. It’s thought to be the result of a severe traumatic injury or infection. It can affect joints, muscles, the back, or the head —effectively the entire body.
Chronic pain syndrome has a complex origin intertwining physical and mental aspects. Some experts theorize that individuals with chronic pain syndrome may have an anomaly in the body's stress-handling nerve and gland system, leading to a unique, often amplified perception of pain.
Research by the Institute of Medicine reveals that pain can persist long after its triggering injury or illness has been healed, evolving into a disease in its own right.
Pain then transitions from symptom to diagnosis, often posing a significant disability.
Interestingly, the study found that with lasting pain, nerves can amplify pain signals, becoming highly sensitized to them. Such alterations can be tremendously tough to reverse.
Now you’re wondering, “Is chronic pain a disability?” Yes, but, while chronic pain syndrome is a disability, due to its invisible nature it could be hard to get a governing body to consider it as such.
The hurdle here is “proving” something that is not medically determinable.
Regarding disability, medical evidence like physicals, labwork, x-rays, or MRIs may be necessary to support a claim that a person has limitations. But, proving chronic pain via medical labs or imaging is difficult, if not impossible.
The best bet is to find potential underlying illnesses that can be proven through medical evidence.
- Neuropathy/nerve damage
- Arthritis and other joint pain conditions
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Spinal disorders
- Fibromyalgia, a condition causing muscle pain throughout the body
- Endometriosis, a condition where uterine tissue grows outside of it
- Autoimmune conditions
- Lyme disease
There are many different types of disability support for those living with a disability in Canada. At True North Disability Services we specialise in the Disability Tax Credit. This allows you to significantly reduce the amount of taxes you must pay and is most beneficial when retroactively claimed for up to the past 10 years.
Once you are DTC certified, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) becomes available to you, along with up to $90,000 in grants and bonds.
Obtaining disability support is famously difficult, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our Disability Tax Credit experts do all the hard work for you.
Our friendly team is here to make life easier for Canadians facing all sorts of medical conditions. We strive to see if you may qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). If we think your situation might tick the DTC eligibility boxes, we jump right in to get the ball rolling on the paperwork and claim process.
We do this by learning about you - we're interested in your medical history, your day-to-day ups and downs, and how your condition is shaping your life. We also take a peek at your present and past tax details.
Then, armed with this knowledge, we prep the must-have documents for DTC approval and send them to the Canada Revenue Agency on your behalf. (We handle all the back-and-forth until we reach a conclusion.)
Simple as that! We’re all about making things smooth and simple for you.
Plus, we've become pretty good at telling your story to the CRA in a way that maximizes your chances of bagging the best benefits around.
Once you land your DTC certification, there are heaps of programs waiting to lend a helping hand with securing your financial future.
Want to untangle the ins and outs of the Disability Tax Credit a bit more? Don’t be shy -- drop us a line today!
Chronic pain, an uninvited guest in many Canadians' lives, can be a constant uphill climb. It begs the question - is chronic pain a disability in Canada? Yes, this prolonged pain, persisting beyond the life of an injury or illness, often evolves into a significant disability.
Yes, 'proving' this invisible condition is challenging, but with certain identifiable underlying illnesses, disability status can be achievable.