Getting Long-Term Disability (LTD) for Autoimmune Disorders
If your insurance company denied your long-term disability claim for an autoimmune disorder, there are steps you can take to fight for your disability benefits. You have the right to file an appeal and to get more information about your autoimmune disorders that may help your case. However, long term disability carriers do not make it easy for claimants to receive the benefits that they deserve.
Since you are so limited by the appeals process, consider consulting a disability attorney very early on. It can be tricky to navigate the claims and appeals process, but working with an experienced disability attorney will give you the best chance of getting the benefits you deserve. If you have been denied disability benefits, don’t lose hope. Many people are denied benefits the first time they apply.
Filing an appeal can be daunting, but your expert disability attorney will guide you through the process. For many people, getting expert help is often the difference between being denied and being approved for benefits. A long term disability attorney can help you stay on top of your deadlines, help you gather documents, assist you during field interviews, and give you guidance that will help you get your claim approved. They do not get paid until you win your case, so you can seek help without worrying about upfront costs.
If your autoimmune disorder makes it impossible for you to work and you have been denied your long term disability benefits, the legal team at Ortiz Law Firm will fight for your disability benefits no matter where you live in the United States. We offer a free consultation to discuss the appeal process and, if necessary, filing a lawsuit. Call us today to discuss your long-term disability claim for an autoimmune disorder at (888) 321-8131.
Autoimmune Disorders That May Qualify for Long Term Disability
Autoimmune disorders cause the body to have either an overactive immune system or an underactive immune system. If your body’s immune system fails to do its job or fails to do it correctly, and the immune system attacks the wrong thing or fails to attack, the results can be serious. An overactive immune system will cause the immune system to attack the body’s healthy cells. An underactive immune system will leave you susceptible to more infections and diseases. Autoimmune disorders that may qualify for long term disability benefits include the following:
Connective Tissue Disease (undifferentiated and mixed)
Connective tissue is the material between the cells of the body that gives tissues form and strength. Connective tissue is made up of dozens of proteins, including collagens, proteoglycans, and glycoproteins. The genes that encode these proteins can harbor defects or mutations, which can affect the functioning of certain properties of connective tissue in selected tissues. When this occurs, the result can be a heritable connective tissue disorder. Individuals who suffer from undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue diseases are often unable to maintain full-time employment due to the symptoms the conditions present.
This autoimmune disorder creates antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. Symptoms can include fatigue, weight loss, depression, swelling of joints, or thyroid glands.
Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is caused by an abnormal immune system response that causes the thyroid gland to produce too many thyroid hormones. Symptoms include unexplained anxiety and irritation, weight loss even though you are regularly eating, swollen thyroid gland, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, frequent bowel movements, and sensitivity to heat.
A combination of the following symptoms may render a claimant completely disabled and unable to sustain full-time work activity: bacterial infections, fungal infections, protozoan infections, helminthic infections, viral infections, malignant neoplasms, non-responsive ulcerations or lesions, motor or cognitive dysfunction, wasting syndrome, sinusitis, sepsis, endocarditis, meningitis, septic arthritis, pneumonia, or chronic diarrhea.
Immune-deficiency Disorders (except HIV/AIDS)
Immunodeficiency disorders prevent your body from being able to fight infections and diseases adequately. An immune-deficiency disorder, therefore, makes you considerably more susceptible to catching viruses and bacterial infections. If your infections (which can be pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, septic arthritis, sinusitis, or endocarditis) are either resistant to an acceptable form of treatment or severe and frequent enough that you need to be hospitalized and/or given IV treatments multiple times per year, you could be approved for LTD benefits.
Inflammatory Arthritis (including Rheumatoid Arthritis)
The spectrum of inflammatory arthritis disorders differs in cause, course, and outcome. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that causes the immune system to attack the antibodies in your joints. Symptoms of inflammatory arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis include joint stiffness and pain, swelling around the joints, fatigue, lumps, or redness on the skin.
Inflammation of major peripheral joints may cause difficulties with walking or fine and gross movements. Immune system attacks may also cause joint pain, swelling, and tenderness. With constitutional symptoms or signs such as severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and involuntary weight loss, inflammatory arthritis may result in an extreme limitation and inability to work
Lupus causes the immune system to attack the body’s organs and tissue. Symptoms can vary based on the person affected, but the most common are fatigue, malaise, sores or blisters in the mouth or on the body, joint pain, fever, and weight loss. If your lupus manifests repeatedly and can be shown to severely limit your daily activities or ability to work, you may qualify for LTD benefits.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling autoimmune disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) where the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include muscle pain, stiffness, difficulty walking, dizziness, speech delays, and clumsiness. Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease is actually a group of disorders that inflame the intestines. Once thought to be an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacked the body, modern research shows that IBD actually happens when the immune system attacks food, bacteria, or a harmless virus in the gut, leading to inflammation and bowel injury. There are two main types of inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease can affect any portion of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, while ulcerative colitis takes place strictly in the colon or large intestine.
Inflammatory bowel disease is unpredictable, waxing and waning without warning. When the disease is active, the person will experience severe inflammation, which can make it impossible to work. Just not knowing when symptoms will hit can make it difficult to hold down a job.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (sometimes called juvenile diabetes because it’s often diagnosed in children and teens) is an autoimmune disease. In people with type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissues of the body and damages the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. The damage from these immune system attacks prevents the pancreas from supplying insulin to the body.
Polymyositis and dermatomyositis (PM/DM) are chronic inflammatory diseases of muscle. Muscle weakness is the most common symptom of PM/DM. You may be approved for LTD benefits if you have shoulder or pelvic muscle weakness and loss of gross and fine movement ability, if your muscle weakness causes difficulty swallowing or breathing, or if it severely affects joint mobility or your intestines’ functions.
The symptoms and qualifications to receive long term disability benefits for Sjögren’s syndrome are similar to the qualifications for systemic lupus, above.
Scleroderma (Systemic Sclerosis)
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder that involves the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. You may qualify for LTD benefits due to scleroderma because of fixed deformities which cause the loss of ability to walk normally or perform fine motor skills, or permanent damage in either foot or both hands. Your disability claim may also be approved for benefits if you’ve had several manifestations that can be shown to severely limit your ability to perform in a work environment.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain, and discomfort.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity but doesn’t improve with rest.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also known as human herpesvirus 4, is a member of the herpes virus family and also an autoimmune disease. It is one of the most common human viruses, as EBV is found all over the world. Most people get infected with EBV at some point in their lives. EBV spreads most commonly through bodily fluids, primarily saliva. EBV can cause infectious mononucleosis, also called mono, and other illnesses.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder where the life cycle of skin cells speeds up and reproduce too quickly, causing raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. Psoriasis typically affects the outside of the elbows, knees, or scalp, though it can appear on the skin in any location. Symptoms include pain and swelling of the affected area, dry, cracked skin that bleeds, burning, itching, soreness, and swollen joints.
Raynaud’s disease is a rare autoimmune disease that affects the blood vessels, usually in the fingers and toes. It causes the vessels to narrow when you are cold or feeling stressed. When this happens, blood can’t get to the surface of the skin and the affected areas turn white and blue.
Individuals with systemic vasculitis suffer from immune system attacks that cause inflammation of the blood vessels, which is the root cause of vasculitis. The inflammation can cause blood moving from your heart to the rest of your body to swell within your blood vessels, making it hard for the blood to produce and circulate oxygen. There are several types of vasculitis.
Myasthenia gravis causes extreme fatigue and weakness of your muscles that you have no control over. The cause is a breakdown in communication between your muscles and nerves. Symptoms are the weakness of muscles, double vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty speaking, and chewing.
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
Closely related to Guillain-Barre syndrome, CIDP is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the nerves and nerve roots to cause nerve damage. Symptoms include numbness, pain, and muscle weakness in the arms and legs. Early treatment is critical to prevent paralysis.
Goodpasture syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder is characterized by immune system attacks against the lungs and kidneys. The first symptom is usually fatigue, followed by nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, foamy urine, blood in urine, and swelling of the legs.
Should I Apply for Social Security Disability As Well?
Many long term disability insurance policies will require you to apply for Social Security Disability benefits for your autoimmune disorders. Fortunately, the autoimmune diseases described above may also qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits if your autoimmune disease is severe enough to interfere with your ability to work. If side effects of your treatment affect your ability to work, this may also qualify you to receive benefits. However, the Social Security Administration requires that your condition last, or be expected to last, at least 12 months.
Why hire two attorneys when one can handle both your disability insurance and your Social Security Disability claims? Ortiz Law Firm represents Social Security Disability claimants anywhere in the United States and we offer a free case evaluation. Contact us today to see how we can help with your Social Security Disability claim.
Ortiz Law Firm Will Fight For Your Long Term Disability Benefits
Unfortunately, long term disability insurance company does not make it easy for disabled claimants to receive the benefits that they deserve. If you are unable to work as a result of an autoimmune disorder or the side effects of your treatment, but your insurance company has denied your claim, you should consult with an experienced long-term disability attorney.
If one or more autoimmune disorders makes it impossible for you to work and you have been denied your long term disability benefits, the legal team at Ortiz Law Firm can help you cut through the red tape and fight for your disability benefits no matter where you live in the United States. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your claim at (888) 321-8131.