Getting Long-Term Disability (LTD) Benefits for Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological condition thought to affect around 7 to 10 percent of the adult population. It is also known as “Willis-Ekbom Disease.” When a person suffers from this condition, they will often feel a strange sensation in their legs that is only relieved by movement.
This condition affects people more at night than during the day, and, as such, can lead to daytime drowsiness. Estimates show that when RLS goes untreated, it can decrease work productivity by about 20 percent.
Since restless legs syndrome can lead to a significant decrease in productivity, a person who suffers from it may need long-term disability (LTD) benefits. In severe cases, RLS can make working impossible. In such instances, you want to know that your LTD benefits will cover you.
What Is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome is a condition that can affect anyone at any time in their lives, though it is usually worse with age. The main characteristic of this condition is experiencing unpleasant, sometimes painful, sensations in the legs that create an urge to move them for relief.
There is no known cause for RLS, so it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why you may have it. However, researchers believe that some cases of restless legs syndrome could be hereditary, especially if symptoms begin before the age of forty.
Other research shows that there may be a correlation between iron deficiency and the symptoms of RLS. Moreover, some women may develop restless legs syndrome during pregnancy; however, in such cases, the condition usually is only temporary and goes away once the woman gives birth.
Nevertheless, this condition, which is more prevalent in the evening and at night, can harm a person’s day-to-day life.
For example, over 80 percent of those with RLS also experience a condition known as “periodic limb movement of sleep,” or “PLMS.” PLMS is when a person’s legs (or arms) twitch or jerk on their own while they are asleep in intervals of 15 to 40 seconds. This can happen throughout the night. As a result, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep, which can lead to decreased productivity during the day.
What Are the Symptoms of RLS?
The main symptom of RLS is the uncomfortable sensation that occurs in the legs of the sufferer. Usually, this sensation is in the thigh area, but it can happen anywhere down to the ankle. It is important to note that these symptoms can occur in one or both legs. People often describe this sensation as:
- A crawling or creeping feeling;
- A pulling feeling;
- A throb or ache in their leg, possibly painful; and
- An itchy or electrical feeling.
The symptoms of restless legs syndrome do share three additional aspects. First, the symptoms of RLS tend to get worse at night. Usually, during the day the symptoms may be minor or nonexistent. However, symptoms usually begin in the evening and get worse throughout the night.
Second, the symptoms tend to occur when a person is resting. In other words, when a person is moving around during the day, they are unlikely to experience restlessness in their legs. However, when they are sitting for extended periods, or resting in bed, the urge to move their legs can begin.
Finally, the symptoms associated with RLS are relieved with movement. For example, if you feel a strange, crawling sensation over your leg, but when you move your leg or walk around the feeling goes away, you may have restless legs syndrome.
Nevertheless, it is normal for the severity of the symptoms to fluctuate. For example, you may experience periods where you experience no symptoms at all. Yet there may be other periods where the symptoms are mild or severe.
Restless Legs Syndrome: Risk Factors and Complications
While restless legs syndrome can affect a person’s quality of life, it is not normally related to an underlying medical issue. However, it can accompany other conditions, such as:
- Iron deficiency;
- Kidney failure;
- Spinal cord conditions; and
- Sleep apnea.
Additionally, the use of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine can aggravate and/or trigger RSL. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, pregnancy can cause restless legs syndrome temporarily until about a month after delivery.
Many complications can come with RSL, specifically difficulty sleeping. This lack of sleep can lead to cognitive issues. Moreover, daytime drowsiness can make it difficult to make quick decisions at work, and it can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Unfortunately, there are no RLS-specific diagnostic tests. Therefore, your doctor will look at your symptoms and see whether they fit the criteria for restless legs syndrome.
Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms. They may have blood work done to check for an iron deficiency. If you have issues sleeping, your doctor might also refer you to a sleep specialist.
When you believe you have RSL, your doctor will want to rule out all other possibilities first. Once they have determined that no other conditions are causing your symptoms, you can receive a diagnosis.
There is no known cure for restless legs syndrome, and it is a chronic condition that will last your entire life. However, there are ways to treat this condition, which can help improve your quality of life. It is important to note that not all cases of RSL will require treatment, especially if it does not disrupt your life.
Treatments for restless legs syndrome include:
- Medications, such as dopamine-related medicine or opiates;
- Abstaining from alcohol and/or tobacco;
- Limiting your caffeine intake;
- Maintaining a consistent sleep routine;
- Using hot and cold packs on your legs;
- Receiving leg massages; and
- Taking hot baths.
These treatments can help you control your condition. Of course, certain treatment methods will work better for some people but not others. Your doctor can work with you to find the best treatment plan that works for you.
Long-Term Disability Benefits and Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome affects people differently. For those with mild cases, it may not disrupt their lives at all. However, if you suffer from a severe case of restless legs syndrome, you may find it impossible to work.
When you have RSL, you will find it hard to get a good night’s sleep. As such, this will affect your ability to be productive at work. Moreover, some people may experience symptoms during the day. If you find yourself having to constantly move at work, you could find it difficult to maintain your schedule or conduct a meeting.
Long-term disability benefits can protect a percentage of your income if you cannot work due to a debilitating medical condition or injury for an extended period. Your employer may provide you with an LTD policy through their benefits package; if so, this is a “group policy” and ERISA likely governs it. You may also have bought a policy yourself directly from an insurer, which is called an “individual policy” and is not subject to ERISA.
If you have restless legs syndrome, and it is affecting your ability to work, you must consider filing for long-term disability benefits. It is possible to get these benefits for your condition, but in most cases, it must be severe to warrant an approval.
You must submit evidence that proves your RLS prevents you from working. This evidence can include your medical records; witness statements; specialized reports from your doctors; vocational assessments; and more.
What If the Insurance Company Denies an RLS Claim?
Unfortunately, insurance companies deny claims often. An RLS claim may receive a denial for a myriad of reasons, such as insufficient evidence or surveillance footage showing an inconsistency in your claim. Whatever the reason, you have the right to appeal if you receive a denial of your claim.
It is difficult to manage your condition while also dealing with the insurance company. This is a stressful situation. Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick understand this and can help. You do not have to appeal your insurer’s decision on your own. It is often complex, and consulting with an experienced long-term disability lawyer is beneficial, especially if you want to ensure you do not commit any common mistakes.
Contact CCK Today
Restless legs syndrome can affect your ability to work, so long-term disability benefits may be necessary. If you are filing for LTD benefits, or are appealing a denial of an RLS claim, a member of our legal team is ready to assist you. CCK can help you at any point in the process. We have over 30 years of combined experience working to obtain the long-term disability benefits that our clients need.
Call us today at (800) 544-9144 for a free case evaluation. A member of our team will review your case, and we will see if we can assist you.
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