Do You Qualify for Parkinson's Disease Disability Benefits?
Insurance companies need more than a simple diagnosis of Parkinson's disease in order to determine whether you are eligible for long-term disability benefits. Since Parkinson's disease is different for everyone, insurance companies will assess your particular level of disability, motor coordination, cognitive and/or mental functioning, and level of fatigue when reviewing your case.
To learn more about applying for Parkinson's disease disability benefits, contact CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC today.
How Does Your Motor Functioning Affect Your Case?
You must submit a complete application and medical records for review. The insurance company will be looking at how Parkinson's impacts your motor functioning and your ability to perform work. The following are a few of the motor skill functions they will assess:
- Difficulty walking
- Slow or shuffling gait
- Delay or slowness when initiating body movements
- Difficulty standing
- Impairments to balance
- Incidents of falling
- The presence of involuntary muscle movements
- Stiffness and/or muscle rigidity
It's very important that your doctor's notes are both complete and well-organized. If your doctor handwrites notes in your file, ask for a typed copy to submit to the insurance company. You may have records from several doctors, including a neurologist. Your neurological records need to include the severity and frequency of your symptoms as well as how they affect your ability to work.
For example, if you have hand tremors and your job involves working at a computer, your doctor should describe the severity of your tremors and how the tremors prevent you from doing your job. He or she should note whether your tremors are constant or intermittent and if they prevent you from typing effectively. You may also experience a loss of fine motor skills which is another factor that would make it difficult to work at a computer.
In addition to objective information, your doctor's opinion or evaluation of your symptoms and ability to function is a key part of your records.
How to Report Your Cognitive and/or Mental Functioning
The effects of Parkinson's disease are not only physical in nature. They can also alter your cognitive and/or mental functioning. Some of the symptoms your insurance company will look for related to cognitive functioning are as follows:
- Ability to stay organized
- Memory deficits
- Being easily distracted
- Trouble staying on task
- Delays processing information
- Fatigue after mental exertion
- Feelings of anxiety and/or depression
- Inability to deal with stress
- Difficulty communicating
- Searching for words or trouble articulating thoughts
- Trouble problem solving
The insurance company will accept documentation from several types of providers including a neurologist, neuropsychologist, psychiatrist, or psychologist. However, records from a neuropsychologist are preferable and carry the most weight with the insurance company.
As with motor functioning records, your doctor's opinions about your symptoms and how they impact your ability to perform your job are crucial to the insurance company's assessment for your Parkinson's Disease disability benefits application. For example, if your job requires quick analysis of information, memory loss and delays processing information may make it impossible to do your job effectively.
Fatigue and Parkinson's Disease Disability
Fatigue can be difficult to prove because of its subjective nature. The insurance company will assess the extent of your fatigue and how it prevents you from working. Your doctor should include information about your ability to do the following. Can you:
- Perform the physical demands associated with your job for an extended period of time: typing, traveling, sitting, standing, or lifting?
- Perform the cognitive demands associated with your job for an extended period of time: following complex directions, concentrating on instructions, using technology accurately?
- Work normal workday hours and work consecutive days without being extremely fatigued?
Your physician's observations and opinion of your fatigue level will help your application as well as increase the likelihood that you'll qualify for Parkinson's disease disability benefits. If your job requires you to analyze complex information, your doctor should state whether or not you are able to concentrate long enough to effectively complete the task.
Reporting Non-Motor Physical Symptoms
These symptoms affect you physically but do not involve motor function. Symptoms in this category include the following:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Frequent need to urinate or urinary incontinence
- Excessive salivation
Documentation should include the frequency, severity, and how your symptoms prevent you from performing your job. For example, if you have recurring episodes of blurred vision, you would not be able to operate a machine safely. For a symptom such as a vision problem, the insurance company will also want to see a report from a vision specialist.