Would a Neuropsychological Evaluation Help My Long-Term Disability Benefits Claim?
When you file a claim for long-term disability benefits, your insurance company will look for objective proof of your disability. A neuropsychological evaluation is the best way to provide your insurance company with an objective assessment of your cognitive or psychological disability and can be a valuable part of your claim. The severity of symptoms and how symptoms manifestation themselves vary greatly even among individuals with the same disability.
Types of Claims That Could Benefit From a Neuropsychological Evaluation
If you have one of these conditions, you may want to consider having a neuropsychological evaluation:
- Organic brain disorders
- Brain injuries
- Brain tumor or cyst
- Epilepsy or seizures
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Alzheimer's disease
- Meniere's, Huntington's, or Parkinson's disease
- Lyme disease (or other similar illnesses)
- Chronic Pain
- Sleep apnea
- Neurotoxin exposure
- Psychological disorders (bipolar disorder, anxiety, psychotic disorders, etc.)
- Medication side-effects
What Is a Neuropsychological Test?
A neuropsychological evaluation is an objective, scientific test which measures the way your disorder affects your cognitive functions. The test measures memory, your ability to learn, your problem-solving abilities, and the level of your verbal and executive functioning. The evaluation typically includes an IQ test, screening for other psychological conditions, and a validity test that shows the reliability of the results.
What Happens During the Evaluation?
A neuropsychologist administers the evaluation, which usually lasts for one to two days. During the test, he or she collects data based on your responses, reviews the data, and provides their professional assessments of your cognitive functioning.
What Kind of Information Does the Test Provide?
Your primary and secondary diagnosis, cognitive deficits, and your ability to work are all determinations a neuropsychologist can make from the evaluation. It is crucial to show the insurance company how your condition prevents you from working, not just the diagnosis of your condition. Here are a few examples of how cognitive or psychological disorders can impede your ability to work.
- Inability to meet production standards
- Difficulty remembering procedures
- Trouble paying attention or concentrating for long periods of time
- Difficulty following a conversation
- Trouble understanding verbal directions
- Inability to manage stress
- Struggling to express your thoughts
- Inability to do complex analysis or computations
The test results can also indicate the need for additional treatment, testing, or evaluations. For example, an underlying psychological or behavioral disorder can exacerbate cognitive functioning. If there is a reason to suspect an organic factor is contributing to your dysfunction, your physician may recommend that you undergo diagnostic imaging tests.
How Reliable Is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
Insurance companies consider a valid neuropsychological evaluation one of the most reliable tests to determine cognitive disorders or dysfunction. If your claim is related to a cognitive disability and you have not had an evaluation, the insurance company might require you to be evaluated before making a determination.
Your insurance provider may offer to provide a neuropsychologist to perform your test. Keep in mind it is in the insurance company's best interest to prove that your condition is not severe enough to warrant long-term disability benefits. You may want to find your own independent neuropsychologist to prevent the possibility that results may be skewed in the insurance company's favor.
The insurance company will want to see that you were able to pass the validity testing. The validity test measures how consistent your answers and your efforts were during the test. This is to ensure you did not perform differently during any part of the test to influence the outcome. Failure to pass the validity testing may negate its value to the insurance company.
Can a Long-Term Disability Attorney Help My Claim?
It never hurts to have an experienced professional to help you during the disability claims process. A disability attorney can help you make decisions about testing and can determine the best way to use your results to support your claim.
- Your attorney will analyze where you are in the claims process, review your symptoms, and determine whether or not your insurance company will be looking for a neuropsychological test as part of your claim.
- He or she can make recommendations about which tests you should have to get the information that will be most influential in demonstrating your disability.
- A disability attorney will gather and submit any necessary background information and medical records to your neuropsychologist so he or she can review them prior to your evaluation.
- Your attorney will review the test results, check for incorrect information and ask for any necessary corrections, and he or she will know how to position the test results effectively.