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Qualifying Conditions

Getting Long-Term Disability (LTD) Benefits for Bell’s Palsy

Coping with a new diagnosis of Bell’s palsy is often a stressful time for you and your family.  One of your concerns may be how you will be able to support your family if you are unable to return to work.  If you have long-term disability (LTD) coverage through your employer, or perhaps a policy that you have purchased yourself, you may be able to file a claim and receive monthly benefit checks while you remain disabled and unable to work.  Unfortunately, the process is not always easy and wrongful denials by insurance companies are all too common.

At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, we can help you navigate this difficult process and fight the insurance company for the benefits you are entitled to.  Our team of attorneys and professionals use their knowledge and experience with ERISA, the U.S. Department of Labor Regulations, and insurance policies to help clients access their benefits.

Contact us today at 401-331-6300 to see if we can assist you.

Understanding Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy, also known as acute peripheral facial palsy, is a condition that causes sudden weakness in your facial muscles.  While the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it is believed to be the result of a viral infection, such as cold sores, chickenpox and shingles, respiratory illnesses, or the flu, which can cause the nerves in the face to become inflamed and swollen.

The symptoms of Bell’s palsy are similar to that of a stroke and, therefore, are often distressing to someone who starts experiencing symptoms suddenly.  Symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:

  • Mild weakness to total paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face;
  • Facial droop that makes it difficult for you to close your eyes or smile;
  • Increased drooling;
  • Pain around the jaw or in or behind your ear;
  • Sensitivity to sound on the affected side;
  • Headaches;
  • Loss of taste; and
  • Changes in the amount of tears and salvia you normally produce.

These symptoms usually only affect one side of the face, however, in rare circumstances, the nerves in both sides of your face could be affected.

In most cases, the symptoms of Bell’s palsy will start to improve in a few weeks to a few months, usually with the help of corticosteroids, anti-viral medications, and physical therapy.  However, there are some individuals with Bell’s palsy that experience these symptoms for life or have recurring symptoms throughout their lives.  Complications can arise in more severe cases that typically involve total paralysis of the facial muscles.  Complications include irreversible damage to the facial nerve(s), partial or complete blindness in the affected eye, usually the result of excessive dryness and scratching of the cornea, and abnormal regrowth of nerve fibers, which can result in the contraction of certain muscles when you are trying to move another.  For example, if you are trying to smile, your eye on the affected side may close.

If you are experiencing a severe case of Bell’s palsy, or if you have permanent damage as a result of the condition, your symptoms may likely impact your ability to work reliably and consistently.  For example, if you suffer from permanent facial paralysis, you may have difficulty talking, eating, and drinking.  This would likely negatively impact your ability to communicate effectively with coworkers, customers, or other individuals necessary to perform your job duties.  Additionally, severe cases of Bell’s palsy can lead to partial or total blindness in at least one eye.  If one eye becomes impaired, you will likely struggle with reading, writing, using the computer, and other duties which are typical in most occupations.  Finally, symptoms of Bell’s palsy including pain in the jaw and/or ear, headaches, and sound sensitivity can be distracting and impact your ability to concentrate on the simplest tasks.  This can lead to inefficiency at work, as well as increased susceptibility to making mistakes.

How the Long-Term Disability Attorneys at CCK Can Help

At CCK, we know the consequences that a condition like Bell’s palsy can have on your ability to work.  Your insurance company may not understand all of the serious symptoms and complications that are associated with this condition.  We do.  We can help you navigate the difficult claims process and, in the event that your benefits are denied, work to develop and file an administrative appeal with the insurance company.  Having a lawyer help you with your appeal can be especially important in ERISA-governed claims because the appeal is often the claimant’s last opportunity to get evidence into the record before heading to court.  The attorneys and professionals at CCK can help you build the strongest record possible at the appeal level in order to put you in the best position at the court level.

The first step when handling an appeal for our clients is to gather the insurance company’s denial letter, claim file, and policy.  We carefully examine and analyze these documents in order to find any mistakes that the insurance company may have made while handling your claim.  The careful review of these documents also allows us to determine the best strategy for the appeal, as well as helps us to identify any additional information we will need to establish our client’s entitlement to benefits.

Once we develop a strategy for the appeal, we begin to gather the necessary evidence.  This might include items such as:

  • Medical records;
  • Test results;
  • Reports from your treating doctors;
  • Expert opinions; and
  • Witness statements from you, your family, friends, and/or co-workers.

Because our appeals rely so heavily on medical evidence, it is important to have open communication with your doctors and make sure that they are documenting your disability appropriately and accurately in your medical records.  This will not only make it easier to prove your functional impairments and resulting disability, but it can also help us to identify what other evidence we may need to gather in preparation for the appeal.  You should talk with your doctor about any changes in your symptoms, any medication changes you have had and their side effects, and how your condition interferes with your ability to work and perform other activities of daily living.

Lastly, we write the appeal using the evidence we have gathered in order to thoughtfully explain why our clients meet their policy’s definition of disability and are entitled to benefits.  Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick today at 401-331-6300 for a FREE consultation to see if we can fight for you.