Getting Long-Term Disability (LTD) Benefits for Peripheral Neuropathy
The process for getting long-term disability (LTD) benefits for peripheral neuropathy is not always as easy as filing a claim and collecting your benefits. Unfortunately, insurance companies are powerful entities, often driven by their own monetary interests, and denials are common.
Coping with a disabling condition can be stressful enough without also having to fight with an insurance company for the benefits to which you are entitled. The attorneys and professionals at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick are knowledgeable and experienced in handling ERISA and non-ERISA LTD claims and are prepared to fight the insurance company on your behalf.
Contact us now at (800) 544-9144 for a free case evaluation to see if we can assist you.
Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that occurs when nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (i.e., peripheral nerves) are damaged. These peripheral nerves help send sensory information via sensory nerves to the rest of the body and are part of the central nervous system.
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by traumatic injury; infections; autoimmune diseases; and exposure to toxins. It can also be inherited from family members.
However, the most common cause of neuropathy is diabetes. Additionally, although peripheral neuropathy may only affect one nerve and, therefore, only one area of the body, most people who have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy will have damage to multiple nerves.
There are two types of neuropathy. If a person’s peripheral neuropathy affects one nerve, then it is called “mononeuropathy.” Likewise, if it affects multiple nerves, then it is called “polyneuropathy.” One common form of mononeuropathy is carpal tunnel syndrome. Nonetheless, most people who suffer from peripheral neuropathy suffer from a form of polyneuropathy.
Additionally, there are several risk factors associated with peripheral neuropathy that can increase the chances of developing this medical issue. For example, if you have diabetes; vitamin deficiencies (vitamin B-12); or have autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, then you have a higher probability of developing neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common forms of this illness and can cause nerve damage. Therefore, regardless of the type of neuropathy, it is vital that you visit your doctor.
Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary depending on which nerves are damaged and which area of the body is affected. There are three types of nerves: (1) sensory nerves; (2) motor nerves; and (3) autonomic nerves. In short, sensory nerves help us feel temperature or pain; motor nerves help us control our muscle movements; and autonomic nerves help us control our heart rate, digestion, and other similar functions.
However, the most common areas in which people experience neuropathy symptoms are their hands and feet. These symptoms can be debilitating and cause physical limitations, which can make it hard to perform the duties of your job or even to complete daily tasks at home.
Those with this medical condition in their hands and feet will experience pain. This pain is often sharp, throbbing, or burning. Additionally, they may experience numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected areas. Others may also experience extreme sensitivity to touch, which may cause them to be unable to tolerate certain sensations, like taking a shower or being under a blanket.
Since those who suffer from neuropathy do not experience normal sensations in their hands and feet, they are more liable to suffer from injuries, infections, and falls.
If the neuropathy affects the autonomic nerves, then the person may experience heat intolerance; excessive sweating; digestive issues; drops in blood pressure; and more.
To receive a diagnosis, your doctor will first obtain and analyze your full medical history. Your doctor may also order a neurological exam to test your reflexes; muscle strength; and ability to feel certain sensations. These tests measure and record your nerves’ response to electrical currents and activity in your muscles.
Your doctor may also utilize additional medical tests, such as:
- Blood tests;
- Imaging tests, such as a CT or MRI;
- Other nerve tests;
- A nerve biopsy; or
- A skin biopsy.
You can submit any tests your doctor uses to help diagnose your peripheral neuropathy as part of your evidence that demonstrates how your condition impairs you under the terms of your insurance policy.
Once diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, your doctor may prescribe you pain medication and/or topical treatments to manage your symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit treatments and physical therapy to strengthen your muscles.
You may also be advised to modify some of your daily activities, which can often lead to modifications of your work activity.
For example, you may be advised to spend less time typing and writing if you experience neuropathy symptoms in your hands. If you experience neuropathy in your feet, then you may be advised to use a cane and avoid activities that could put you at an increased risk of falling.
It is important to follow whatever treatment plan your treating physician gives you. Insurance companies want to see that you are receiving proper treatment for your condition; if you do not follow your doctor’s treatment plan, then your insurer may decide that if you are not treating your condition then you must not require benefits.
Long-Term Disability Claims for Peripheral Neuropathy
Often, peripheral neuropathy does not improve and can often worsen over time. This condition can severely impact your ability to work reliably and consistently. For example, if you are a heart surgeon and must have precision while using surgical tools, then even mild numbness can make it impossible to work.
Nonetheless, not only does neuropathy cause you to experience pain and weakness in your hands and/or feet, but there could also be accompanying cognitive problems. These cognitive problems can include memory impairment; lack of focus and concentration; and chronic fatigue. These cognitive issues could also lead to mental health issues, such as depression.
If you develop this condition, then you may be eligible for long-term disability benefits. You may have an LTD insurance policy through your employer or from an insurance company directly. It is important that you read this policy before filing a claim for disability benefits.
The initial application for LTD benefits requires you to submit a notice of claim to your insurer. After this, your insurer will send you the claim forms. You must complete and submit these claim forms along with objective evidence of your condition. This evidence can include medical records and any diagnostic tests that show the presence of your neuropathy.
Appealing a Denial of LTD Benefits
Insurance companies often do not understand peripheral neuropathy or its impact on a person’s ability to work. Therefore, you may receive a denial of your initial claim for disability benefits. However, if you do receive a denial of your LTD claim, then you have the right to file an administrative appeal.
If you have an ERISA-governed group policy, then you typically have 180 days to file this appeal. During this time, it is important to review your insurer’s denial letter, which will outline the reasons they denied your claim for long-term disability benefits.
How Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick Can Help with Your Neuropathy Claim Appeal for Benefits
If you receive a denial of your claim, then CCK may be able to help you fight for the LTD benefits to which you are rightfully entitled. Our team will analyze the insurance company’s denial letter and claim file, as well as your policy and other plan-governing documents. We can then determine the best appeal strategy based on the errors the insurance company might have made while handling your claim.
Our law firm has been helping long-term disability claimants for over 20 years. Our long-term disability attorneys have extensive experience and knowledge of ERISA; the U.S. Department of Labor Regulations; and various policy language that helps us draft the best appeal for your case.
CCK can gather supportive evidence to prove that you meet the definition of disability. We start by gathering your medical records, including any diagnostic testing you may have undergone, and get reports from your treating providers.
As a client, we will typically advise you of the importance of having effective communication with your doctors and informing them of your symptoms and how they impact your ability to function. If your treating doctors are not willing to write reports or complete forms on your behalf, then we are able to gather outside expert opinions to attest to your disability.
Preparing a strong appeal is particularly important in ERISA-governed LTD claims because, in most cases, the administrative appeal is the last chance the claimant has to enter supportive evidence into the record before the court stage of the appeal process. We gather all the evidence, develop our arguments, and write an appeal that strategically and clearly explains why our clients meet their policy’s definition of disability.
Call CCK Today
Our experienced disability attorneys understand how difficult the LTD application process is. Our team also knows how challenging it can be to deal with the insurance company while also trying to manage your condition. CCK may be able to help you with your peripheral neuropathy disability claim.
Call us today at (800) 544-9144 for a free case evaluation with a member of our team.
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