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
Voice box spasms and difficulty speaking
Other common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, both physical and cognitive, may include:
Sleep disturbances (insomnia, restless sleep, etc.)
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 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
Beyond substantiating your Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and symptoms, your insurance company necessitates that you prove you cannot work because of your condition. You will need to provide documentation of your occupation and the associated material duties. This evidence may include:
Employer’s official job description
A personal affidavit: You may consider composing a personal affidavit in which you outline all of the tasks your job entails and how your Parkinson’s disease has impacted your ability to carry out these occupational duties.
Witness statements from your co-workers/employer: Oftentimes it can be helpful to have your co-workers or employer write a statement on your behalf explaining what your role entailed and their accounts witnessing your Parkinson’s disease symptoms impeding your ability to work.
A report from a vocational expert: A vocational expert can provide a detailed, comprehensive report of your job role, occupational duties, and render an opinion on whether your Parkinson’s disease symptoms disclude you from performing your work. This report can provide further objective evidence in support of your Parkinson’s disease disability to your insurance company.
How The Maddox Firm Can Help Prove Your Long Term Disability Claim Due to Parkinson’s Disease
As serious a diagnosis as Parkinson’s disease is, your insurance company will deny your disability claim if you neglect to submit sufficient evidence of your symptoms and how they specifically prevent you from working. Insurance companies do not make the disability claims process easy or straightforward. It can be all too easy to miss a deadline, submit inaccurate paperwork, or not submit the correct supportive evidence for your claim. A disability insurance attorney can assist you in navigating the paperwork and successfully filing a Parkinson’s disease disability claim.
The experienced team at The Maddox Firm has helped individuals with Parkinson’s disease file for and win the short and long term disability benefits they deserve. Some of the ways The Maddox Firm helps prove your Parkinson’s disease disability include:
Examining your disability insurance policies. The Maddox Firm will review your employer’s disability policies and any private insurance policies you may have to understand what benefits are available to you and the eligibility requirements for benefits.
Gathering all medical and vocational evidence on your behalf. The Maddox Firm will request all medical records on your behalf and handle communications with your employer for any needed paperwork. We can then evaluate the existing evidence and craft a personalized strategy to file your Parkinson’s disease disability claim.
Obtaining any needed additional evidence. If your existing medical and vocational evidence does not sufficiently prove your Parkinson’s disease disability, The Maddox Firm will coordinate with your neurologist to obtain a supplemental letter certifying your Parkinson’s disease symptoms and their impact on your ability to work. Additionally, The Maddox Firm can refer you to experienced vocational experts to obtain a vocational report to support your Parkinson’s disease disability claim.
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 Parkinson’s disease disability claim has already been denied, or your benefits are terminated, The Maddox Firm can handle your appeal or litigation with your insurance company.
The disability insurance claims process can be an overwhelming prospect to face alone when you are dealing with a devastating medical condition such as Parkinson’s disease. We always recommend speaking with a trusted attorney before filing or appealing a Parkinson’s disease short or long term disability claim. Whether you are looking for assistance in navigating the claims process, appealing a Parkinson’s disease claim denial, or litigate 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.