What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease Long-Term Disability Benefits
You may think it's just another bug bite, but tick bites can be dangerous. Tick-born Lyme disease can manifest in a variety of physical and mental symptoms, which may vary from relatively mild to disabling. Unfortunately, many cases of the disease go undiagnosed because the symptoms can mimic other illnesses. Learn more about Lyme disease long-term disability benefits below.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease are unpredictable and can be physical, mental, or a combination of the two. Physical symptoms include fatigue, joint swelling, fever, widespread pain, and weakness. Mental symptoms include difficulty concentrating, memory loss, panic attacks, anxiety, and even delusions. Not everyone will have mental symptoms, but like physical symptoms, they can vary from barely perceptible to debilitating.
Symptoms of Lyme disease treated with antibiotics usually resolve themselves. If the illness is misdiagnosis or undetected, symptoms may worsen.
Diagnosing Lyme Disease
Physicians diagnose Lyme disease using a combination of clinical tests. They also factor in symptoms and the potential exposure of the individual to the ticks. The black-legged tick (or deer tick) carries the disease in the eastern and middle regions of the U.S. while the western black-legged tick is the culprit on the west coast.
The unpredictability of the disease and the tendency for misdiagnosis makes it challenging to diagnose. Lyme disease is mistaken for illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, ALS, arthritis, or multiple sclerosis. Another challenge to a diagnosis is confirming the individual's exposure to the ticks.
Lab Tests for Diagnosis
There are blood tests physicians commonly use to diagnose Lyme disease, but lab results may not be a definitive confirmation of the disease. The lab test is a two-step process. If the first step, the EIA (enzyme immunoassay) is negative, they skip the second step and turn to other diagnostic methods. If the test is positive or indefinite, the second test (immune blot) is performed. Both tests are used to see if antibodies are present in the blood.
Treatment of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics, which is effective quickly. There are other prescription options for people who cannot take antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the disease, treatments may last from ten days to six weeks.
Lyme Disease Long-term Disability Benefits
The process of getting long-term disability benefits for Lyme disease can be a little complicated. Sometimes, insurance companies rely solely on the results of the lab tests to determine eligibility. As previously mentioned, lab tests by themselves can be inconclusive. You may have to provide additional information to educate the claims adjuster about the facts.
Inability to Work
Many insurance companies deny Lyme disease long-term disability benefits because they don't think the symptoms are serious enough to keep you from working. We know symptoms of Lyme disease are varied and erratic; there may be good days and bad days. Insurance companies may give more weight to the good days than the bad days in an effort to deny your claim. The following steps may strengthen your case.
- Talk to your physician and emphasize the importance of not only recording symptoms but attributing those symptoms to Lyme Disease.
- Ask your doctor for a letter describing how your symptoms affect your ability to work.
- Ask your employer for a letter which details both your job requirements and how your symptoms prevent you from performing those duties.
Lyme Disease and Your Daily Life
The effects of Lyme disease may cause flu-like symptoms, muscle pain, and cognitive impairments during treatment. Some people experience long-term residual symptoms from Lyme disease called "Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome" (PTLDS).
Common Residual Symptoms
- Muscle aches
- Inability to sleep
- Cognitive impairment
For some Lyme disease sufferers, serious symptoms can continue long after treatment.
- Approximately half of the people diagnosed with Lyme disease will develop some form of arthritis.
- PTLDS symptoms do not improve with antibiotic treatment and can last for months or longer.
- Depression and anxiety can result from the challenges of living with the disease for an extended period.
Appealing a Denial
It's never easy to go through the appeals process, but you are entitled to appeal any claim denial, and it's worth the effort. Consider hiring a disability lawyer. He or she can review all documentation associated with your case, identify any errors, and communicate with the insurance company and doctors during the process.
Learn More About the Requirements for Lyme Disease Long-Term Disability Benefits
If you have questions about filing for Lyme disease long-term disability benefits, contact CJ Henry Law Firm today. We can help.