Living with an anxiety disorder can significantly impact your daily life and ability to work. The relentless worry, debilitating panic attacks, and constant fear can make it extremely difficult to fulfill job responsibilities and maintain employment. Short term disability and long term disability insurance benefits exist to provide much-needed financial support during periods of disability.
In this article, we will discuss the eligibility requirements and key considerations for individuals seeking short or long term disability benefits for anxiety. Understanding the intricacies of these benefits can help you navigate the complex landscape of disability insurance and help you secure the benefits you deserve.
Can you get short or long term disability for anxiety?
Yes, you can receive short term disability or long term disability insurance benefits for anxiety. However, whether you qualify for benefits will depend on the specific terms of your insurance policy, as well as the severity and impact of your anxiety on your ability to work.
Anxiety disorders can vary in their severity, ranging from mild to severe, and they can significantly affect your daily functioning, including your work performance. If your anxiety is severe enough to prevent you from performing your job duties or engaging in substantial gainful activity, you may be eligible for short or long term disability benefits.
How does anxiety limit your ability to work?
Anxiety can significantly limit your ability to work by interfering with your cognitive, emotional, and physical functioning. The symptoms experienced can vary in intensity and duration, depending on the individual and the specific anxiety disorder.
Here are some common ways in which anxiety can impact work performance:
Impaired Concentration and Focus: Anxiety often leads to racing thoughts, excessive worry, and difficulty concentrating. This can make it challenging to stay focused on tasks, follow instructions, or complete work accurately and efficiently.
Decreased Productivity: Anxiety can hamper productivity as you may struggle to initiate or complete work due to excessive stress, fear of making mistakes, or constant self-doubt. This can result in decreased output and difficulty meeting deadlines.
Interference with Decision-Making: Anxiety can impair your ability to make decisions, as you may excessively ruminate or fear making the wrong choices. This indecisiveness can hinder problem-solving skills and efficient work progress.
Reduced Cognitive Function: Anxiety can negatively affect memory and information processing, making it challenging to retain and recall important details or instructions necessary for job performance.
Physical Symptoms: Anxiety often manifests in physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, panic attacks, dizziness, or gastrointestinal issues. These symptoms can be distracting, uncomfortable, and interfere with work engagement and performance.
Social and Interpersonal Challenges: You may experience difficulties in social interactions, such as heightened self-consciousness, fear of judgment, or avoidance of social situations. This can impact teamwork, collaboration, and effective communication within the workplace.
Absenteeism and Presenteeism: Severe anxiety can lead to increased absenteeism, as you may struggle to attend work consistently due to your anxiety symptoms or overwhelming anxiety-related stress. Even when physically present, anxiety can result in presenteeism, where you are physically at work but are unable to perform optimally due to anxiety-related impairments.
If anxiety significantly impairs your ability to perform essential job functions and maintain gainful employment, you may consider filing a short or long term disability claim. Consulting with a reputable disability attorney can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.
How hard is it to get short or long term disability for anxiety?
Obtaining short or long term disability benefits for anxiety can be challenging. The difficulty can vary based on several factors, including the severity of your anxiety symptoms, the specific requirements of your insurance policy, and the quality of medical documentation supporting your claim.
Some challenges in filing a short or long term disability claim for anxiety include:
Subjectivity of Symptoms: Anxiety is primarily a subjective condition, meaning its symptoms can be challenging to objectively measure or assess. Unlike physical disabilities that may have more visible or measurable indicators, anxiety relies heavily on self-reporting and medical documentation.
Lack of Visible Evidence: Anxiety is an internalized condition, which means its symptoms are not readily visible to others. This can lead to skepticism or disbelief from your insurance company, as it may be harder to provide tangible evidence of your limitations compared to physical disabilities.
Limited Coverage: Some insurance policies may have exclusions or limitations for mental health conditions, including anxiety. This is commonly called a mental illness limitation. Many policies limit coverage for mental illnesses to 24 months of benefits. Reviewing the terms of your policy is essential to understand the extent of coverage available for anxiety-related disability claims.
Given these challenges, it is crucial to approach the disability claims process with comprehensive medical documentation, seek support from mental health professionals, and consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in disability insurance.
How do insurance companies evaluate anxiety disability claims?
When evaluating anxiety disability claims, insurance companies typically follow a multi-step process that involves reviewing medical documentation, assessing functional limitations, and considering your policy’s specific criteria.
Here is a general overview of how long term disability disability insurance companies evaluate anxiety disability claims:
Medical Documentation: Your disability insurance company will review the medical evidence provided, such as diagnostic reports, treatment records, and assessments from healthcare professionals. They will evaluate this medical evidence to see if it substantiates disabling mental, cognitive, and physical symptoms.
Functional Limitations: Your disability insurance company will assess how your anxiety specifically impacts your ability to perform job-related tasks and engage in substantial gainful activity. They may consider the functional limitations outlined by your healthcare provider, such as difficulties with concentration, decision-making, memory, or social interactions.
Policy Criteria: Insurance policies have specific criteria for disability eligibility. These criteria may include thresholds for severity, duration, or impairment levels that must be met to qualify for benefits. Your disability insurance company will compare your medical documentation and functional limitations against these criteria to determine if you meet the requirements for disability benefits.
Intensity of Treatment: Anxiety is a common diagnosis, and it does not always result in disabling symptoms. For this reason, disability insurance companies will look to the intensity of the treatment for anxiety to determine whether your anxiety symptoms and functional limitations rise to the level of disability. For example, disability insurance companies examine the frequency of therapy, the dosage and types of medication, and whether there has been any in-patient treatment.
When scrutinizing your claim or appeal, your insurance company may utilize an Independent Medical Examination (“IME”) as part of their evaluation process. IMEs involve having you undergo an examination conducted by a mental health professional chosen by the insurance company. The purpose of the IME is to assess your condition and determine the extent of your disability. However, these examinations are typically not impartial, as the examiner is typically selected and paid by your insurance company. This potential bias can lead to findings that downplay the severity of your anxiety or overlook its impact on your ability to work.
In addition to IMEs, insurance companies often employ medical paper reviewers who evaluate your medical records and documentation. These reviewers, who are usually healthcare professionals contracted by the insurance company, scrutinize the evidence you have submitted. They may analyze treatment records, therapy notes, and other medical documents to assess the validity and extent of your anxiety disorder. However, these reviewers can be biased in the same way as independent medical examiners. The medical paper reviewer may not have a comprehensive understanding of your condition and occupation, and their assessment may not fully capture the nuances and impact of anxiety on your ability to work.
Insurance companies often use IMEs and medical paper reviewers as tools to challenge the validity or severity of your short or long term anxiety disability claim. If you are seeking disability insurance benefits for anxiety, you should consider working with an experienced ERISA disability attorney who can help push back on these tactics.
What evidence can prove my anxiety disability to my insurance company?
Proving your anxiety disability to your insurance company requires comprehensive documentation and evidence that substantiates the severity and functional limitations caused by your anxiety disorder. You must demonstrate to your insurance company that you are medically disabled and that you cannot perform your occupational duties because of your anxiety.
Proving Medical Disability Due to Anxiety
Submitting comprehensive medical evidence is crucial to support your short or long term anxiety disability claim. Here are some types of medical evidence commonly used to substantiate anxiety disability claims:
Diagnosis and Treatment Records: Include medical records that establish an official diagnosis of your anxiety disorder from a qualified mental health professional. These records should outline the diagnostic criteria used and document ongoing treatment for anxiety.
Therapy or Counseling Notes: If possible, you may submit therapy or counseling session notes that highlight the frequency of treatment, topics discussed, and progress made. These notes can provide insight into the ongoing management of your anxiety and its impact on your daily functioning. (It is worth noting that many mental health professionals are reticent to release their session notes. In lieu of these notes, a detailed statement from your provider outlining your diagnosis, symptoms, treatment history, and work limitations can be submitted, as described in the next point.)
Mental Health Professional Statements: Obtaining statements or letters from mental health professionals who have treated you for anxiety can be valuable evidence. These professionals can provide detailed assessments of your symptoms, functional limitations, and how your anxiety interferes with your ability to work.
Medication Records: Providing documentation of prescribed medications for anxiety, including dosage information and duration of use, can demonstrate the medical treatment you have received for your condition.
Hospitalization or Emergency Room Records: If you have received emergency room care or have been hospitalized due to severe anxiety symptoms, including those records can bolster your claim by highlighting the acute nature of your condition.
Psychological Evaluations: Comprehensive psychological evaluations conducted by qualified professionals can offer an in-depth assessment of your condition, including psychological testing results and functional limitations related to your anxiety disorder.
Neuropsychological Evaluations: Neuropsychological evaluations assess cognitive and mental functioning, which can help identify any cognitive impairments or deficits associated with your anxiety disorder. These evaluations can provide valuable objective evidence of the impact on your cognitive abilities and work-related tasks.
Proving You Cannot Work Due to Anxiety
In addition to medical evidence, vocational evidence can play a crucial role in supporting your anxiety short or long term disability claim. Here are some examples of vocational evidence that can strengthen your case:
Personal Affidavit: Providing a detailed personal affidavit that explains the impact of your anxiety on your ability to work can be compelling evidence. Describe specific symptoms, challenges faced in the workplace, and how anxiety has hindered your job performance and daily functioning.
Employer Statements: Obtaining statements from your employer that describe your work-related difficulties resulting from anxiety can show your insurance company proof of your inability to work. These statements can highlight specific instances where your anxiety affected your job performance, productivity, or ability to meet job requirements.
Colleague Testimonials: Gathering testimonials from colleagues who have observed the impact of your anxiety on your work can provide additional support. These statements can speak to your difficulties in managing stress, meeting deadlines, collaborating with others, or maintaining focus and concentration.
Performance Reviews: Including past performance reviews that show a decline in work performance due to the onset of your anxiety disorder can substantiate your claim. These reviews can provide documented evidence of the impact of anxiety on your job performance over time.
Official Job Descriptions: Providing an official detailed job description from your employer can help establish the specific job demands and requirements that you are struggling to meet due to your anxiety.
Vocational Expert Assessments: A vocational expert can provide an objective assessment of your work-related limitations caused by your anxiety disorder. The expert can evaluate your job skills, assess your ability to perform specific tasks, and offer their professional opinion of whether you are unable to work due to your anxiety.
The specific evidence you need to submit may vary depending on your situation and the requirements of your insurance company. Consulting with an ERISA attorney can provide guidance on gathering the appropriate medical and vocational documentation and presenting a strong case to support your anxiety short or long term disability claim.
How can an attorney prove my anxiety disability claim?
When it comes to anxiety disorder disabilities, your insurance company may employ specific strategies to discredit your claim. Here are a few of the ways The Maddox Firm can help prove your anxiety disability claim and push back against their tactics:
The Maddox Firm will examine your policy and explain its terms to you. Your disability insurance policy may contain specific language or criteria that your insurance company may manipulate to dispute your anxiety disorder claim. The Maddox Firm can examine your policy, interpret its provisions, and use our knowledge of ERISA regulations and legal precedents to advocate for your rights and ensure proper evaluation of your anxiety disability claim.
The Maddox Firm will help you obtain substantial medical evidence of your anxiety disability. Anxiety is a subjective condition, and your insurance company may argue that there is a lack of objective evidence to support your claim. The Maddox Firm understands how to effectively emphasize the importance of your medical documentation, including diagnoses, treatment history, and the consistent reporting of symptoms, to substantiate the validity and seriousness of your anxiety disorder. We will request and obtain medical records from your treating providers on your behalf, including coordinating with your doctors for supplemental statements certifying your disability. If more medical evidence is needed to support your claim, such as a Neuropsychological Evaluation, The Maddox Firm will refer you to this testing with trusted professionals.
The Maddox Firm will help you prove to your insurance company you cannot work. Your insurance company may claim that your anxiety disorder does not significantly impact your ability to work. The Maddox Firm can gather detailed information about the specific functional limitations caused by your anxiety disorder, obtain testimonies from colleagues or supervisors regarding your occupational duties and their accounts of how your anxiety has affected your job performance, and refer you to trusted vocational experts to provide objective assessments of your work limitations.
The Maddox Firm will push back on any requested Independent Medical Examinations. Your insurance company may request an independent medical examination (“IME”) by a mental health professional of their choosing. The Maddox Firm often helps clients get their IMEs postponed or canceled altogether. If the IME goes forward, we will help you prepare, ensure your rights are protected during the examination, and counter any biased or unfair assessments that may arise.
The Maddox Firm will help you file an appeal and represent you in litigation. Your insurance company may engage in delaying tactics or wrongfully deny your claim. The Maddox Firm can navigate the appeals process for you, assert your rights, and take legal action, if necessary, to challenge improper denials and ensure a fair evaluation of your anxiety short or long term disability claim.
The Maddox Firm has helped hundreds of clients obtain short and long term disability benefits. We understand the nuances of proving anxiety-related disabilities. Whether you are filing a claim, appealing a denial, or suing your insurance company for benefits, we can provide you with tailored strategies to address the specific challenges faced by anxiety disorder disabilities, protect your rights, and advocate for the benefits you deserve.
The experienced team at The Maddox Firm will examine your insurance policy, correspondence from your insurance company, medical records, and any other relevant documentation in order to give you personalized guidance on how we can help you win your short or long term anxiety disability claim. The Maddox Firm can provide you with comprehensive legal advice, answer your questions, and address any concerns you may have.
Contact us to help you file your claim, appeal, or litigation the right way.