Alzheimer’s Long-Term Disability Benefits
Alzheimer’s disease can seriously disrupt a person's life, causing progressive memory loss and mental impairments. If you are unable to work because of the disease or its complications, you may be able to receive long-term disability benefits.
What Is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's is a degenerative neurological condition. Usually the first symptoms include short-term memory loss, which worsens as the disease progresses. Changes in the brain eventually severely impact all aspects of a person's life — speech, behavior, problem solving ability, and even the ability to recognize family members or feed oneself.
While Alzheimer's typically affects people who are already over the age of 65 and retired, it can appear in younger patients. This is known as early-onset Alzheimer's.
While the disease can't be cured, treatment can be helpful in reducing the severity of the symptoms, as well as help slow down the disease's progression. Medications can also help preserve brain functions, as well as treat changes in behavior. However, treatment and therapy can be costly, which is why long-term insurance benefits are so important.
How Does Your LTD Plan Define Disability?
If you are still working and diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, you may be able to qualify for short-term or long-term disability benefits if you can prove that your condition limits your ability to work. Under most LTD plans, you are considered disabled if your condition causes you to be unable to:
- Perform your current work duties during the first two-year period of the LTD policy, and
- Complete work duties of any other occupation after the two-period is over.
The insurance company will typically look to see whether you have an impairment in the following categories:
- Physical coordination
- Ability to learn new things
- Attention span
- Social skills
Since each plan may define disability differently, it's important to read your policy carefully. The insurance adjuster will review your claim in order see whether you qualify for benefits under the definition of disability in your plan.
What Medical Evidence Do You Need to Provide?
When someone is first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, they may not be considered to have a disability as the disease progresses. You will need to prove that your disease impacts your ability to do your job or any potential job.
The insurance adjuster will review your claim, medical records, doctors' statements, etc. to determine your eligibility for benefits. Detailed, thorough documentation of your diagnosis, symptoms, and the disease's overall effect on your life is critical to a long-term disability claim. Your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment can be helpful. It is used to determine how your condition impacts your functional abilities. Be sure to be honest with your doctors so that they can fill out this form accurately.
Since the insurance company will want to get a full picture of your health, it's crucial that your medical records accurately reflect your disease. Diagnostic test results are especially important, so make to provide your insurer with this information. In some cases, you may not be able to get these records from your doctors. Your LTD attorney can help you request this information and correspond with the insurance company on your behalf.
Alzheimer's Long-Term Disability Claims Are Often Denied
As a cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's can be severely disabling. But that doesn't mean that insurance companies are always willing to pay out claims. In many cases, the insurer will assert that you are able to return to work, even if it's fairly obvious that you are suffering from a serious cognitive impairment.
The insurer may require you to undergo an independent medical examination (IME). An IME essentially is where the insurance companies their own medical professional under their payroll to conduct an exam — leading to often biased reports that inaccurately conclude that you are able to go back to work.
If your claim for disability benefits was denied, don't panic. Most disability claims are denied at the initial stages. An experienced disability attorney can help you appeal a denial and fight for your right to benefits. Often, having the right lawyer is the difference between winning and losing.
Speak to an Ocala Disability Attorney Today
An Ocala LTD lawyer can help you guide you through the claims process. We can help you submit a claim, gather the necessary documentation, and appeal a denial if necessary. To learn more about how we can help you obtain Alzheimer's long-term disability benefits, contact CJ Henry Law Firm PLLC today.