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An EMG (Electromyography) Can Help Prove Your Long Term Disability Claim

Electromyography (EMG) and long term disability

When you file a short or long term disability insurance claim, your insurance company will request supportive evidence of your disabling condition in order to approve your claim for benefits. Some of the strongest documentation you can use to substantiate your disability claim is objective medical evidence of your diagnosis and subsequent symptoms. Electromyography (“EMG”) is among an array of medical diagnostic testing you can submit to your insurance company to support your disability claim.

In this article we will discuss the purpose of an EMG, what conditions an EMG is used to diagnose, how EMG results can support your claim for short and/or long term disability, and how the experienced team at The Maddox Firm can help prove your disability insurance claim.

EMG: What It Is and How It Works

EMG stands for electromyography, which is a diagnostic test used to measure the electrical activity of muscles. If you exhibit signs of muscle damage, weakness, and/or neuropathy (numbness and tingling), your treating physician may recommend you undergo an EMG. The test can be used to evaluate muscle weakness or nerve damage, as well as to assess the effects of treatment for muscle or nerve disorders. An EMG can also be used to distinguish between muscle and nerve disorders, as certain patterns of electrical activity are characteristic of each.

An EMG is typically performed by a neurologist and can be done on an outpatient basis, with no hospital admittance required. The procedure involves inserting a small needle electrode through the skin, into the muscle, and measuring the electrical signals produced by the muscle fibers when they contract. The measurement data is then received by a monitor called an oscilloscope.

Beyond the initial needle inserts, an EMG is a generally painless procedure. Your neurologist will isolate the affected area to test (such as legs, arms, etc.) and insert the needle electrodes. During the test, your neurologist will likely ask you to flex/contract the muscles (such as bending your leg, flexing your arm, etc.) to compare the readings. Your neurologist will want a data contrast of how your muscles react to the EMG at rest versus in activity.

Commonly an EMG is administered in conjunction with a nerve conduction study (“NCS”). The NCS is similar to the EMG, except that it measures your nerves rather than muscles. Muscle and nerve pain can be difficult to differentiate. Conducted together, the EMG and NCS results can narrow down your diagnosis to either a muscular condition or a nerve condition.

What Medical Conditions EMG Results Can Diagnose

EMGs can help diagnose muscular dystrophies for long term disability

EMG results can be used to diagnose a wide range of medical conditions that affect the muscles or nerves. Some examples of medical conditions that can be diagnosed with EMG results include:

  • Muscular dystrophies, which are a group of genetic disorders that cause muscle wasting and weakness;

  • Neuromuscular junction disorders, which are a group of disorders marked by abnormalities in conduction through the neuromuscular junction, such as myasthenia gravis;

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a condition that causes neuropathy, pain, and muscle weakness in the fingers, hands, and wrist;

  • Peripheral neuropathies, which are disorders of the peripheral nerves that can cause numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness;

  • Radiculopathies, which are conditions that affect the nerve roots, such as herniated disc in the spine;

  • Muscle disorders, such as polymyositis, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and weakness of the muscles;

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

How EMG Results Can Support Your Long Term Disability Claim

An EMG can be used to evaluate the function of muscles and nerves and can provide valuable information to support a short or long term disability claim. The results of an EMG can help to establish the presence and severity of a muscle or nerve disorder. Because EMG results are objective, your insurance company will give them more weight than self-reported symptoms (such as pain and fatigue) alone. If you report symptoms such as pain and fatigue, and also provide abnormal EMG results that give credence to these symptoms, your insurance company will take your disability claim more seriously.

An abnormal EMG result can indicate the presence of a muscle or nerve disorder. The specific pattern of abnormality will depend on the type and location of the disorder. Some examples of abnormal EMG findings include:

  • Increased muscle activity at rest, known as spontaneous activity or fibrillation potentials, which can indicate muscle damage or inflammation, such as in polymyositis or myositis;

  • Reduced muscle activity during voluntary contractions, known as decreased recruitment, which can indicate muscle weakness, such as in muscular dystrophies or peripheral neuropathies;

  • Abnormal nerve conduction study, which can indicate nerve damage, such as in carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathies;

  • Abnormal temporal dispersion, which can indicate nerve damage, such as in radiculopathies;

  • Abnormal temporal summation, which can indicate nerve damage, such as in myasthenia gravis.

An EMG can be a crucial component of your disability claim if your condition is challenging to prove with objective medical evidence. For example, a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may rely on your self-reported symptoms of fatigue and muscle weakness. Insurance companies are often skeptical of disability claims that cannot be corroborated with objective evidence. An EMG showing evidence of muscle or nerve abnormalities that could cause your fatigue can then substantiate your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome diagnosis and symptoms to your insurance company.

Beyond providing a diagnosis, EMG results can help to establish the presence and severity of a chronic condition that is causing muscle or nerve problems and preventing you from being able to perform your job duties. Your insurance company requires you to provide sufficient evidence that your medical condition stops you from working in order to receive disability benefits. EMG results indicating muscle abnormalities that account for your symptoms can show your insurance company that your symptoms are present, severe, and cause an inability to work.

How The Maddox Firm Can Help Prove Your Disability Insurance Claim

If you are looking to file a short or long term disability claim, an ERISA attorney can help.

A Long Term Disability lawyer can help

The experienced team at The Maddox Firm has helped many clients with muscular or nerve conditions win their disability benefits from their insurance companies. We understand the disability claim process and what evidence you’ll need to get your short or long term disability claim approved.

Here are a few ways The Maddox Firm can assist with your disability claim:

  • Examining your disability insurance policies. Your disability insurance policy will lay out the eligibility requirements you must meet to receive disability benefits. The policy language can be confusing and difficult to parse if you are not familiar. The Maddox Firm will examine your employer’s disability policies and any private insurance policies you may have in order to analyze the terms and answer your questions about eligibility and timelines.

  • Gathering all of the strongest medical evidence for your claim. The Maddox Firm will request all medical records on your behalf. We can then review the existing medical evidence and determine if additional medical evidence is needed. For example, EMG results may provide evidence of your diagnosis and muscle/nerve conditions. However, it may be beneficial to acquire a supporting letter from your neurologist explaining the EMG results and how they substantiate your disability, as well as offering their opinion on your ability to work. This can be submitted as evidence in support of your disability claim with the insurance company. The Maddox Firm will coordinate with your treating doctors to obtain this supplemental documentation.

  • Recommending any additional testing. While an EMG provides objective evidence of your diagnosis and symptoms, it may be beneficial to undergo additional testing that will gauge your physical or cognitive functioning. For example, a Functional Capacity Evaluation (“FCE”) is a test conducted by a medical professional used to determine your level of physical function. If your muscle weakness, nerve pain, or other symptoms limit your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, or other physical functions, the FCE results will substantiate your restrictions and limitations. The Maddox Firm can refer you to trusted professionals who can perform the FCE, review the report for accuracy, and submit it on your behalf to your insurance company.

  • Obtaining all necessary vocational evidence. In addition to the medical evidence component of your short or long term disability claim, it’s important to provide your insurance company vocational evidence. Vocational evidence can include your resume and official job description. However, these may not sufficiently describe the scope of your job role and material occupational duties. We can assist you in writing a personal affidavit outlining your job duties and in obtaining a witness statement from a co-worker or employer describing your job role and any decline in your performance attributed to your medical condition. The Maddox Firm can also refer you to experienced vocational experts to obtain a vocational report to support your disability claim. These pieces of evidence can all be used to explain to your insurance company specifically how your medical condition prevents you from performing your occupation.

  • Handling all communications with your insurance company. The Maddox Firm will immediately take over all correspondence with your insurance company to ensure all paperwork is received and any questions or requests go through us.

  • Filing an appeal or litigation on your behalf. If your disability claim has already been denied, or your benefits are terminated, The Maddox Firm can handle your appeal or litigation with your insurance company.

We always recommend speaking with a trusted attorney before filing or appealing a short or long term disability claim. Whether you are looking for assistance in navigating the claims process, appealing a claim denial, or litigating a final adverse decision, The Maddox Firm can help. The team at The Maddox Firm will look over 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 and/or long term disability claim.

Contact us to help you file your claim, appeal, or litigation the right way.


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