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Filing a Long Term Disability Claim Due to Parkinson’s Disease

Brain: Filing a Long Term Disability Claim Due to Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects motor control and very often results in long term disability. Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration of cells in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, stiffness, difficulty with balance, and slow movement. The disease can also cause non-motor symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, though treatments such as medications and surgery can help manage the symptoms.

If you have Parkinson’s disease and are unable to work due to your condition, you may be eligible for short and/or long term disability benefits. These benefits can provide financial support while you are unable to work. Disability benefits may be provided by your employer or through a private insurance policy. Short term disability benefits are typically available for a limited time, usually several weeks to a few months, while long term disability benefits cover a longer period of time, from several months to many years.

This article will discuss the process of filing a disability insurance claim due to Parkinson’s disease, including what evidence is needed to prove your inability to work and how an experienced disability attorney can help you with the claims process.

Inability to Work Due to Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition, meaning that while you may be able to work at the beginning of your diagnosis, your symptoms will most likely increase in severity over time and may result in the inability to work.

The primary Parkinson’s symptoms are related to motor control, such as:

  • Hand and limb tremors that occur during activity and/or at rest

  • Difficulty with balance and movement (such as standing, walking, lifting, etc.)

  • Impaired gait and walking speed

  • Muscle stiffness, rigidity, and weakness

  • Coordination difficulties

  • Voice box spasms and difficulty speaking

Other common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, both physical and cognitive, may include:

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia, restless sleep, etc.)

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Mental confusion and forgetfulness

  • Anxiety and depression

Understandably, any of the above Parkinson’s disease symptoms may result in the inability to perform your occupational duties. For instance, if your job requires any physical activity such as walking, your Parkinson’s symptoms may make it not only difficult but dangerous to safely navigate your work environment. Your job may also require projects that demand intense mental focus for long periods, and your Parkinson’s disease may cause cognitive impairment preventing you from meeting those work demands.

When filing a short or long term disability claim due to Parkinson’s disease, your insurance company will require evidence that your symptoms prevent you from working. The reasons your Parkinson’s disease impedes your ability to work may seem obvious and clearcut to you, but without the necessary medical and vocational evidence, your insurance company will reject your claim.

How Disability Insurance Companies Evaluate Parkinson’s Disease Claims

Disability Insurance Companies' Evaluation of Parkinson's Disease Long Term Disability

Disability insurance companies use a variety of factors to evaluate short and long term disability claims for Parkinson’s disease, including:

  • Your symptom severity. A Parkinson’s disease diagnosis alone will not be enough for your insurance company to approve your claim. They will require evidence that your Parkinson’s disease has progressed to the extent that it impedes your ability to work and perform daily activity.

  • Your occupational duties. Your insurance company will consider your occupation and the demands of your job role. Accordingly, they will determine whether your Parkinson’s disease prevents you from meeting your occupational demands.

  • Whether you are receiving appropriate treatment. Your long term disability policy will require that to be compliant and qualify for benefits, you must be receiving appropriate treatment as recommended by your doctors. If you are not complying with the recommended treatment options from your doctor(s), your insurance company can use this as a basis to deny your claim.

When you file a Parkinson’s disease disability claim, your insurance company will assess your supporting evidence. They will also request paperwork from you, your employer, your attending physician(s), and may also require you to undergo an independent medical examination.

Parkinson’s Disease Disability Claim Evidence

To qualify for disability benefits for Parkinson’s disease, you will need to provide documentation of your condition and how it affects your ability to work. We can break down different evidence types into two categories: medical and vocational. Both components of your disability must be properly addressed with your insurance company in order to get your claim approved.

Medical Evidence of Parkinson’s Disease

Medical evidence of your Parkinson’s disease may include:

  • Medical records. Office visit notes from your treating physicians can provide medical support for your short or long term disability claim. In-person examinations of your physical condition and proof of treatment compliance will be documented in your medical records.

  • Test results. There is no single diagnostic test for Parkinson’s disease. Instead, doctors will evaluate the presence of your physical symptoms, family history, and rule out other conditions or medication side effects that may cause similar symptoms. You will likely be referred to a neurologist for an examination to substantiate your Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. Any resulting neurological evaluations can provide evidence of your Parkinson’s disease to your insurance company.

  • Supportive letter from your doctor. Sometimes medical records and test results are not comprehensive of all your Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Your doctor may write a statement to your insurance company certifying your Parkinson’s disease disability.

Vocational Evidence of Parkinson’s Disease

Vocational Evidence of Parkinson's Disease Long Term Disability

Beyond substantiating your Parkinson’s disease diagn