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Getting Long-Term Disability (LTD) Benefits After Suffering a Stroke

Experiencing a stroke can be a scary and life-changing event that, unfortunately, leaves many individuals with disabling symptoms long after the stroke has ended.  Having long-term disability (LTD) insurance allows you to have peace of mind that at least a portion of your income is protected if you are unable to work.  Unfortunately, the process for applying for long-term disability benefits can be difficult, confusing, and frustrating, especially if your benefits are wrongfully denied by the insurance company.  Dealing with your “new normal” is stressful enough without having the added pressure of fighting with the insurance company to obtain the long-term disability benefits to which you are entitled.

At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, our team of professionals and experienced attorneys can ease your burden by fighting the insurance company on your behalf and allow you more time to focus on your health and recovery.  Call us today at 401-331-6300 for a FREE consultation to see if we can help you.

Understanding Strokes

A stroke is a sudden interruption in the brain’s blood supply, usually caused by either an abrupt blockage of an artery leading to the brain, known as an ischemic stroke, or bleeding into the brain tissue from a burst blood vessel, known as a hemorrhagic stroke.

An ischemic stroke is typically caused by fatty deposits or blood clots that travel through the bloodstream and get stuck in one of the arteries leading to the brain, reducing oxygen and blood flow to the brain.  Conversely, there are many conditions and factors that can cause a hemorrhagic stroke, including uncontrolled high blood pressure, overuse of or treatment with blood thinners, head trauma such as a car accident, and ischemic strokes that lead to hemorrhaging in the brain.

Warning Signs of a Stroke

While the effects of a stroke usually vary depending on the area of the brain that is affected, there are some common warning signs that are important to recognize so that you can seek medical assistance quickly.  These warning signs include:

  • Sudden weakness and/or numbness in the face, arms, or legs, most commonly on one side of the body;
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech;
  • Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes;
  • Sudden difficulty with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and/or coordination; and
  • Sudden headache with no known cause.

A common tool that helps people know and understand the warning signs of a stroke is the acronym “FAST”:

  • F – Face: Does one side of the face droop? If you suspect you or someone you know is having a stroke, ask them to smile and observe whether or not one side of their face is drooping.
  • A – Arms: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person you believe to be having a stroke to raise their arms.  Observe whether one arm is drifting downward or if the individual has difficulty raising one of their arms.
  • S – Speech: Is speech slurred? Ask the individual to repeat a simple phrase and determine if they are having slurred or altered speech.
  • T – Time: Getting immediate medical attention for a stroke victim is crucial. If you or someone you know is experiencing these warning signs, you should call 911 and get medical attention as quickly as possible.

Treatment and Recovery

When you are having a stroke, emergency treatment is required, but the specific treatment utilized typically depends on the type of stroke you are having (ischemic versus hemorrhagic).  Treatment of an ischemic stroke is focused on repairing the blood flow to your brain as quickly as possible.  This is typically done with IV medication, by performing an endovascular procedure such as removing the clot with a stent retriever, or by delivering medications directly to the brain.

Treatment of a hemorrhagic stroke is focused on controlling the bleeding in the brain and reducing the pressure caused by the excess fluid.  This is typically done with medications, which work to thicken the blood, lower blood pressure, and prevent vascular spasms (constricting of a blood vessel), or surgery, which can include removing the blood and pressure on the brain or clipping the base of the aneurysm to stop the blood flow to it.

After suffering a stroke, you will likely be closely monitored for at least a day.  Once discharged from the hospital, recovery will vary depending on the type of stroke, as well as the severity of the stroke, that occurred.  The area of the brain that was affected by the stroke will also determine the necessary recovery programs.

Most individuals that have suffered a stroke enter into rehabilitation programs with hopes of regaining as much function as possible and returning to their normal level of activity.  Unfortunately, this process can be time-consuming and, in some cases, your previous level of function may not return.

Complications

There are various complications that can occur after you suffer a stroke, depending on the severity and the length of time the brain was without proper blood flow.  Additionally, complications will vary depending on the side of the brain that was affected by your stroke.  For example, if the stroke occurred on the left side of your brain, you may continue to experience problems with right side paralysis, speech and language problems, slower behavior and thinking, and memory loss.  Alternatively, if your stroke occurred on the right side of your brain, you may experience issues with paralysis on the left side, vision problems, impulsivity, and memory loss.

Many of these complications are disabling and could impact your ability to return to work.  For example, paralysis on either side of your body could affect not only your ability to physically sit, stand, and walk around your workplace, but also interfere with your fine motor skills like writing, typing, and dialing numbers on the phone.

Additionally, cognitive issues like memory loss, as well as problems with speech and language, will likely interfere with your ability to communicate effectively, be efficient, multi-task, and concentrate during the day.  Lastly, you may experience behavioral changes and emotional problems such as impulsivity or increased fear and anxiety.  This type of complication would not only interfere with your ability to be a reliable employee but could also impact your relationships at work.

CCK Understands the Long-Term Effects of a Stroke

At CCK, we know that your fight is not over after you have been discharged from the hospital following a stroke.  Complications are all too common and, unfortunately, can take a long time to resolve, if they can be resolved at all.  These complications can be debilitating and can certainly impact your ability to work reliably and consistently.  The insurance company may not understand the impact your stroke has had on your day to day life and your ability to work, but we do.  At CCK, our professionals and attorneys can help you navigate the difficult claims process, file an administrative appeal, or file a lawsuit against the insurance company in court to try and get you the benefits you deserve.

If your long-term disability claim is denied, one of the most important things to do is get the claim file from the insurance company and review it carefully to see what, if any, mistakes the insurance company made during the handling of your claim.  It is also important to obtain and read your long-term disability policy and plan governing documents, as those will explain any procedures, policies, or provisions that you need to be aware of while handling your claim.  At CCK, we use our knowledge and expertise of ERISA, the U.S. Department of Labor Regulations, and various policies and plan documents to help you through this confusing and time-consuming process.

Another important aspect of your long-term disability claim is having medical evidence that demonstrates your inability to work due to your condition.  In order for this evidence to properly support your claim, it is important to have open lines of communication with your doctors and ensure that you are being transparent about limitations and challenges in your day-to-day life.  Additionally, it is important to make sure your doctor is documenting examination findings, medication changes and side effects, your reported symptoms, their observations, and the results of any tests that you have undergone.

Together these things can help demonstrate to the insurance company that your symptoms and complications are valid and that they interfere with your daily activities and ability to work.  It  is also important to make sure you have a strong, supportive doctor that is willing to write reports and fill out disability paperwork in favor of your claim.  At CCK, we do what we can to ease the burden on your doctor and make it as simple as possible for them to complete paperwork on your behalf.

Once you have gathered and reviewed the medical records, you might realize you need additional evidence that supports your inability to work.  Other pieces of evidence can include reports from your doctors, additional testing, consultation with outside experts, and witness statements from your loved ones or others with firsthand knowledge of your condition.  The CCK team will help you identify what, if any, other evidence is needed to make your claim as strong as possible.  This is especially important at the appeal stage in ERISA-governed claims because, most of the time, the administrative appeal is the claimant’s last opportunity to get additional evidence into the record before heading to court.  We make sure the record has strong and complete evidence and put you in the best position possible before filing a lawsuit.

Let us fight for you.  Contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick today at 401-331-6300 for a FREE consultation to see if we can assist you.