As a child, Chris always wanted to help people. So it was only natural that, as an adult, he’d become a personal support worker (PSW). He loved his job and relished going to work every day. But working as a PSW at a hospital in Winnipeg meant Chris spent most of his days on his feet. It’s a physically demanding job, but he loved it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Sometimes, he’d notice some back pain from having to lift residents throughout the day. Chris knew the risks and always took precautions but he also understood that all it takes is one bad twist to throw out your back. So when he started having chronic back pain he didn’t overthink it. At 39 years old he was convinced he was too young for it to be anything serious, and as a PSW, he figured he knew all the tricks in the book in order to get himself back to good health.
But the at-home remedies weren’t helping and as he worked through the pain he started to experience back spasms. He continued to push himself through the spasms and the pain, taking short breaks when he could, but by the end of the day, he could barely move. He started taking sick days to rest and put himself through physio techniques he knew from work. Unfortunately, they didn’t help, and he decided to see a physiotherapist.
In constant pain at this point and unable to do his job, both Chris’s doctor and physiotherapist encouraged him to apply for long-term disability benefits so he could take time off to deal with his constant pain. The paperwork was filled in, the medical documents were submitted, and everything was sent to the insurance company on time. Despite his diligence throughout the application process, his claim was denied, and he was left with no more sick days and no benefits to support him.
One day while in his physiotherapist’s waiting room, another patient noticed Chris was googling “denied disability claim” and offered some advice. They mentioned that a friend of theirs had turned to Share Lawyers when their claim had been denied and suggested he try reaching out.
Thankfully, he did, and we were able to help.
We sat down with Chris and took a closer look at his documentation. Unfortunately, his physician and physiotherapist were not able to diagnose the precise cause of the pain. This meant that the insurance company viewed the documentation skeptically and said that there was insufficient medical evidence to support Chris not being able to work. Chris was scheduled to meet with many medical specialists and have more testing, giving plenty of ammunition to counter the insurance companies argument.
Given how limited Chris’ mobility was due to the chronic pain, we were able to schedule meetings by phone when necessary and we handled all communication with his insurance company. After a prolonged battle, Chris received the benefits he was entitled to, and even though he would never go back to his job as a personal support worker, he started thinking about other jobs that he could do in the future.
Back pain is one of the most common chronic conditions in Canada, affecting four out of five adults within their lifetime. This most often affects adults between the ages of 30 and 50 years of age, and often as a result of a mechanical issue or trauma from injury. If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic back pain, don’t wait - see your physician as soon as possible.
*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all involved.