You can have an incredibly devastating illness and still not qualify for long-term disability benefits. The key to recovering benefits is not that you suffer from a disease. It’s that the symptoms of that disease keep you from performing the key duties of your job.
So how can you tell if your symptoms are disabling? Here’s what to look for.
Is my pain severe enough to qualify as a disability?
Pain can be severe enough to hamper your ability to function in your daily activities, including work. But it can be difficult to establish that pain is a reason for a disability because it’s hard to measure. Everyone experiences pain differently depending on their genetics, gender, and psychological and social factors.
So how can you establish that you have enough pain to support a disability claim? The first step is to document your pain with medical tests, such as an MRI. If the test shows that you’re suffering from a condition known to be painful, this can be powerful evidence that you’re in significant pain.
You can also keep a pain diary that records the level of your pain on a scale from 1 to 10. Keep notes on what you think caused the pain and what, if anything, increased it. The greater the detail, the better evidence you’ll have supporting your claim.
Finally, make sure that you take advantage of any treatments that can help alleviate your pain. If you don’t take measures to try to feel better, an insurance company may not believe that your pain is severe.
Can physical limitations qualify as a long-term disability?
Yes, depending on the extent of the limitations. Illnesses and injuries frequently keep you from performing your job duties. For example, if you’ve got a lower back injury, you may not be able to lift much weight or even stand or sit for long periods. If you suffer from macular degeneration, you may not be able to see well enough to read or use a computer.
As with pain, the key is to document the extent of the physical limitation and its cause. Ask your doctor whether a test can show how limited your capabilities are because of your illness or injury. You should also keep records of how the physical limitation is impacting you.
Can fatigue support a long-term disability claim?
If you’re feeling chronically exhausted and lacking the energy to do the simplest tasks, you might be able to use your fatigue to support your disability claim. The key is that the fatigue must, like pain, interfere with your daily life.
To establish that your fatigue is severe enough to support a claim, you should take similar steps as with pain. You should get documentation in the form of tests and other medical evidence to show that you’ve been diagnosed with a disease that causes fatigue. You can supplement this evidence with tests that can assess your ability to perform tasks and your energy levels, such as a functional capacity evaluation or cardiopulmonary exercise test. Keeping a log of when you felt fatigued and how it affected you can also help establish your claim.
What if I’m suffering from cognitive problems?
If you’re having trouble remembering things, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions, you may be suffering from a cognitive impairment that can support your disability claim.
To establish your cognitive impairment, you should work with a psychologist or neuropsychologist. An examination of your mental status will consider your appearance, behavior, speech, mood, affect, thought process, thought content, cognition, insight, and judgment. Additional tests that can support your claim include a neuropsychological evaluation, which may cover your reading skills, language usage, problem-solving, attention, learning, processing speed, reasoning, remembering, mood, personality, and much more.
Next steps for establishing a long-term disability claim
As you can tell, the strength of your long-term disability claim will depend on the medical evidence you’re able to gather. The more evidence you have, the stronger your claim. It’s important to make sure your notes and medical documentation are accurate and thorough.
Given the complexity of this area of law, it’s critical to ask a long-term disability lawyer for guidance before you apply for long-term disability benefits. At Hunter and Everage, our lawyers have experience working with clients suffering from disabling conditions that qualify for long-term benefits. Get in touch for a no-cost preliminary evaluation of your long-term disability claim today.