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Do I Qualify For Disability Insurance Benefits If I Have Parkinson’s Disease?

CaveyLaw.com > Practice Areas  > Long Term Disability & ERISA Lawyer  > Long Term Disability Disabling Conditions > Do I Qualify For Disability Insurance Benefits If I Have Parkinson’s Disease?

Disability insurance companies don’t always make it easy for policyholders who have Parkinson’s disease to get the disability benefits they deserve, particularly in the early stages of the disease.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that affects your movement. It develops gradually. In the early stages it may start with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand, little or no facial expression, or your arms may not swing when you walk. It can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, which works to the advantage of disability carriers who are always looking for a reason to deny benefits.

As your condition progresses the Parkinson’s disease symptoms will worsen. The symptoms and progression vary from person to person, and disability carriers often fail to take that into consideration.

The Common Reasons Disability Carriers Deny Parkinson’s Disease Disability Claims

Regardless of the stage or progression of the Parkinson’s, disability carriers are notorious for denying and terminating many claims.

A common argument disability carriers make is that:

  1. Coverage is excluded because of the pre-existing condition clause in your disability policy.
  2. Benefits are limited under the subjective limitation clause. Tremors, slowed movement, rigid muscles, impaired balance, and speech changes may be the most disabling symptoms you have, but carriers routinely dispute the impact of those symptoms.
  3. You have had Parkinson’s for years and have not been disabled before now. You will have to overcome the carrier’s argument that you have been working with these problems for years and nothing has changed. It is crucial that your medical records develop the progression of your symptoms.
  4. Your symptoms are intermittent.
  5. Your writing changes, your speech changes and your impaired posture are subjective complaints, and you haven’t had any testing that supports your complaints.
  6. Your complaints of cognitive impairment are not supported by your medical records, the Activity of Daily Living forms you completed, what your employer has told us or the surveillance we have.
  7. Your complaints of difficulty concentrating or other cognitive difficulties are subjective, and you haven’t had any neuropsychological testing to provide us an objective basis of your complaints.
  8. Treatment will allow you to continue to work so you couldn’t possibly be disabled.

As a result, many disability claims for Parkinson’s are denied. Carriers have other reasons to deny claims. They’ll say:

(1) There is no objective basis of the diagnosis, particularly in the early stages,

(2) There is no objective basis for the restrictions and limitations assigned by your physician because of your Parkinson’s,

(3) There is no causal relationship between your Parkinson’s and/or your restrictions and limitations, and your inability to perform your own or any occupation.

Nancy Cavey, who has 35 years experience handling disability cases, understands the objections and works to overcome a claims denial by working closely with you and your physician.

She will arrange for neurocognitive testing, a Functional Capacity Evaluation and a vocational evaluation. She has seen first-hand the devastating effects of Parkinson’s on her clients; she knows what it takes to get you the benefits you deserve!

Nancy Cavey offers a free initial consultation and welcomes the opportunity to speak with you about your disability claim.

What Are the Disabling Symptoms of Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s symptoms can vary depending on the progression of the disease. The most common disabling symptoms are:

  •   Uncontrolled tremors,
  •   Muscle stiffness,
  •   Inability to make voluntary movement,
  •   Impaired posture and balance,
  •   Loss of automated movements, including blinking or smiling,
  •   Changes in speech,
  •   Changes in writing,
  •   Difficulty concentrating or other cognitive problems, and
  •   Depression.

It is important that your medical records document your symptoms and how those symptoms impact your ability to function.

This is particularly true because you probably have been working with difficulty but now find it hard to continue. The disability carrier will want to know what has changed and what caused you to file for disability.

Your symptoms may progress slowly, but it is important to chart that progression and how your symptoms impact your ability to function. The progression must be documented in your medical records.

Keep a Parkinson’s diary that notes how you feel, the nature of your symptoms and how the symptoms impacted your ability to function. Make sure that your entries are consistent with the policy definition of disability and occupation.

Your policy may define your occupation as how that occupation is performed in the national economy, and not how you perform you occupation for your employer. Regardless of how your occupation is defined, make sure your entries give concrete examples of how your symptoms impact your ability to do the material and substantial duties of your occupation.

Make sure your physician also has an accurate description of the physical and cognitive requirements of your occupation so the physician can comment accurately on your ability to perform those duties.

Be sure to give your physician a copy of the diary with the entries between each visit. This diary can show the progression and impact of your symptoms.

How Do I Get The Disability Insurance Benefits I Deserve?

Parkinson’s can interfere with your daily activities and with your ability to work. If you no longer can work or your doctor has told you to apply for disability benefits, you should take steps before you apply:

  1. 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 if there are limitations in your coverage.

Some policies consider Parkinson’s without objective findings to be a subjective condition; benefits are limited to just two years. You need to know applicable policy limits before you apply for benefits.

  1. 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.

One of the most common reasons given for a claims denial is that there is “no objective evidence to support your subjective complaints.’’

Your physician might have noted that you were feeling better, had fewer tremors or cognitive problems or that you had more energy. These entries must be addressed before your application is filed, or during the appeal process if your claim has been denied.

Carriers often make a leap of logic and say the policyholder either is exaggerating or faking their fatigue or cognitive problems. Nancy Cavey knows what proof is necessary to meet the policy definition of disability.

  1. Obtain a copy of your personnel file to see if your Parkinson’s has affected your work performance.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 your neurologist won’t cooperate or doesn’t support your claim, it might be time to find another physician.
  4. Prepare a diary that explains your symptoms and any side effects of medication. Be sure to give examples of how your tremors, altered speech or other symptoms interfere with your ability to do things on a daily basis.
  5. 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.

She works closely with your neurologist to make sure your records reflect the progression of the Parkinson’s and your symptoms. She also makes sure your physician correctly completes all Attending Physician Statement forms.

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.

  1. 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. They’ll use any reason to deny your Parkinson’s 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

Parkinson’s 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.