Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE Summer 2013, Issue 9 - Page 12

Personal Advocacy Why It’s Important to Burden of Proof About Your “Invisible” Disease t’s no secret that insurance companies have made a regular practice of refusing to pay fibromyalgia sufferers their disability benefits. For those already battling a life of chronic pain, the additional obstacle of an insurance denial can seem insurmountable. Insurers frequently deny claims for reasons such as “lack of objective evidence,” “symptoms are excessive,” or “claimed activity level is inconsistent with your claimed level of impairment.” What do these denials mean, and how can you shift your focus from fighting insurance companies to practicing selfcare and wellness? f applying for long term disability benefits becomes a necessity, there are two important things for you to understand. One, it is up to you to I I provide evidence supporting your claim for benefits. Unfortunately the burden of proof belongs to you, and you cannot leave it up to the insurance company to draw the appropriate conclusions about your illness. Two, although some people do not want to be “complainers,” appear different or weak in front of colleagues or friends, or expose their private life to others, it is imperative that you talk about your illness. This is the one way that you can objectively prove an illness that lacks objective diagnosis and treatments. Let close friends know what you are going through, give your physician an accurate and detailed record of your symptoms, and ask for assistance when you need it. While it is understandable that you don’t want to constantly complain to friends or physicians about your condition, it will help you when it is time to make your claim. f you suffer from a chronic illness such as fibromyalgia, your insurance company might have denied your claim by stating there was no objective evidence causing your symptoms. Objective evidence does not usually exist for invisible diseases, and so we cannot objectively prove the illness in a traditional way. This presents another challenge for people already struggling with pain and discomfort! n order to provide some clear evidence for your “invisible disease,” you will need to talk about your illness with your physician openly, and document your symptoms in a way I I 12  Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Life Summer 2013