Disability insurance companies don’t always make it easy for policyholders who have neck pain or cervical spine problems to get the disability benefits they deserve.
Neck pain can be caused by degenerative disorder or by accident or injury. Neck pain is among the most common reasons for filing a disability claim, and disability carriers are notorious for denying and terminating such claims.
The Common Reasons Disability Carriers Deny Neck Pain or Cervical Spine Disability Claims
Many claims are denied because the disability insurance company says:
(1) There is no objective basis of the neck diagnosis,
(2) There is no objective basis for the restrictions and limitations assigned by your physician because of your neck,
(3) There is no causal relationship between your neck diagnosis and/or restrictions and limitations, and your inability to do your own or any occupation,
(4) The MRI, CT-Scan, EMG/NCT are normal or consistent with your age,
(5) Your pain is subjective, and
(6) Surveillance shows that you can do more than you or your doctor say you can.
Nancy Cavey, who has 35 years experience handling disability cases, has successfully represented many policyholders with neck problems or cervical spine disorders. Ms. Cavey overcomes a claims denial by working closely with you and your physician.
She has had back surgery herself, so she understands what you are going through!
Nancy Cavey offers a free initial consultation and welcomes the opportunity to speak with you about your disability claim.
What Are The Causes of Chronic Neck Pain and Cervical Spine Symptoms?
Your spine is a beautiful piece of architecture. The principal building block is bone, which can have structural problems, including degenerative disc disease, stenosis, facet arthrosis, osteophytes, bone spurs, foraminal narrowing, or osteoporosis. Any one of these structural problems can cause pain or dysfunction.
Illustration bulging disc, herniated disc and DJD of the neck
Between the bones of the spine are discs that allow for movement of the spine. The disc is a pad of cartilage with a tough outer layer, the annulus, and a soft inner layer, the nucleus. It is like a jelly-filled lifesaver.
In a herniated disc, a portion of the nucleus pushes out through a tear in the annulus. This can irritate the nerves of the spine, which carry electrical signals from the brain to the arms and hands.
Common symptoms of a herniated disc can include a radiating pain with tingling and numbness that starts in your neck and travels down the shoulders into the hands. You also might have neck pain with tingling, numbness and weakness of your arms.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease also can cause chronic neck pain. It can flare-up with severe neck pain that can cause headaches, limited range of neck motion and facial pain.
A narrowing of the spine, spinal stenosis, can cause pain or numbness in your shoulders and arms. It also can result in weakness and a loss of sensation in your arms.
How Do I Get The Disability Insurance Benefits I Deserve?
Regardless of your diagnosis, neck pain and radiculopathy can interfere not only with your daily activities but with your ability to work. If you no longer can work or your doctor has told you to apply for disability, before you apply for benefits, you should:
- Obtain a copy of your disability policy. See how it defines “disability,” “occupation” and “self-reported conditions.” You’ll need to understand what you have to prove and whether there are limitations in your coverage.
Some policies consider neck pain without objective findings to be a subjective condition. Benefits are limited to two years. You need to know applicable limits in your policy before you apply for benefits.
- Obtain a copy of your medical records. Review them to see if there is an objective basis for your diagnosis, what your records say about your report of symptoms and your restrictions and limitations.
In denying claims, carriers often say there is “no objective evidence to support your subjective complaints of pain.’’ Often there just are not objective findings on x-rays, CT scans or MRIs to explain someone’s pain. EMG/NCV electrical testing can be normal.
Objective testing can’t prove how severe and disabling your pain is. Some people have excruciating neck pain with minimal findings.
Disability carriers often make a leap of logic and conclude that the policyholder either is exaggerating or faking their pain.
Ms. Cavey, who has had spine surgery herself, knows what proof is necessary to meet the policy definition of disability.
- Obtain a copy of your personnel file to see whether your neck pain has affected your work performance.
- Obtain a copy of your job description. Create your own description of your physical duties with an explanation of how your symptoms impact your ability to do your occupation.
- Provide your doctor with the occupational description. Ask your doctor to prepare a report that explains the objective basis for your diagnosis, the objective basis of your restrictions and limitations, and the objective reasons you can’t perform some or all of the material and substantial duties of your occupation.
- If necessary, undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation. For this test, see a policyholder-friendly physical therapist who can objectively determine your ability to sit, stand, walk and lift and why you can’t perform your occupational duties. Don’t rely on an FCE provider recommended by your physician; many of them are beholden to the insurance companies that send them work!
- Prepare a pain diary that explains your pain and the side effects of medication you are taking. Be sure to give examples of how your low back pain and symptoms interfere with your ability to do things on a daily basis. Your pain my give you problems with concentration.
- Hire Nancy Cavey to help you file your initial application. The application process is confusing and designed so you and your physician make mistakes that can result in a delay or even a denial of your benefits. Ms. Cavey knows how to prepare and file a winning shock and awe disability application that leaves the carrier little reason to question your claim.
- Hire Nancy Cavey to help you appeal a wrongful denial or termination of your disability benefits. Disability carriers are in the business of collecting premiums and not paying disability benefits for neck pain. They’ll use any reason to deny your claim. The odds of getting your benefits on appeal are greater when you are represented by an experienced ERISA/private ID policy disability attorney.
Contact Disability Attorney Nancy L. Cavey, Who Can Help You Regardless of Where You Live
Neck pain can make it difficult, if not impossible, to work. You owe it to yourself and your family to get help today! Nancy Cavey can review your policy and your medical records, and explain to you what your policy says and how to get your disability benefits. Call today for a free consultation at 727-894-3188.