Patients with Crohn’s disease may be unable to work because of their disease and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of their Crohn’s disease may qualify for long term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance company will review their claim to see if they qualify under the conditions of that plan.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease causes inflammation and tissue damage that requires long term management. In most instances, the condition is considered chronic, or a life-long medical condition. Crohn’s is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The severity of the condition varies widely among individuals. Some patients may experience only mild and occasional symptoms, while others may experience more frequent and debilitating symptoms. The most common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue, which may be severe enough to significantly impair one’s quality of life. These symptoms can also increase the individual’s risk for additional health problems.
If the condition becomes severe enough to keep you from working for an extended period of time, then you may qualify for long term disability (LTD) benefits (assuming, of course, that you have LTD insurance coverage). Disability benefits can help offset the costs of medical management and help pay for unexpected expenses due to complications of the disease.
How Crohn’s Disease Qualifies for Disability Benefits
As those who have the condition readily know, Crohn’s disease primarily affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping;
- Diarrhea; and
- Loss of appetite.
Crohn’s disease may also affect other organ systems of the body and cause additional symptoms, including:
- Extreme fatigue;
- Neurological symptoms;
- Inflammatory arthritis;
- Vision problems;
- Weight loss;
- Skin rashes;
- Anemia; and
- Oral ulcers.
Acute exacerbations and complications with the disease can interfere with one’s daily life and make it difficult to work. In severe cases, these issues may qualify one for disability benefits.
You may qualify to receive long term disability insurance (LTD) benefits if your condition is so severe that it satisfies the term “totally disabled” (or “total disability”), as that term is defined in your LTD policy.
In proving this, you should provide as much proof of your condition and its resulting limitations as possible. Such proof may include detailed documents about your medical history, including but not limited to the following types of evidence:
- Medical records showing chronic abdominal pain that is severe enough to require narcotic drugs for management;
- Medical records showing hospitalization or surgery for a blockage in the small intestine or colon;
- Lab results evidencing anemia that is associated with hemoglobin readings below 10.0 gm/dL;
- Records showing severe weight loss or an extremely low BMI (for example, under 18.0); and/or
- Proof of malnutrition from a doctor or registered dietitian.
The Disability Benefits You May Be Eligible To Receive
LTD benefits are monetary (money or cash benefits) designed to help cover the costs of lost wages, increased treatments, and surgeries. The precise amount you are eligible to receive is set forth in your long term disability insurance policy.
Even if you are initially approved for benefits, the LTD insurance company will periodically check in with your progress. You may be required to submit additional documentation to support your continued disability. As a general rule of thumb, the LTD insurance company wants recipients to be able to work again. Once you resume work, you will no longer receive LTD benefits. If, however, your condition makes it impossible for you to continue working, you may receive benefits indefinitely.
When Your LTD Claim for Crohn’s is Denied or Benefits Are Terminated
Working with an experienced disability attorney will give you the best chance of getting the benefits you deserve for your Crohn’s disease. Even if you have been denied benefits, that does not mean your fight is over. Many people are denied benefits the first time they apply. You have the right to file an appeal and try to get more information that may help your case. Getting expert help is often the difference between being denied and being approved for benefits.
While the process can be daunting, your experienced disability attorney will be able to guide you through the process. They do not get paid until you win your case. You can seek help without worrying about upfront costs or unexpected bills.
The Ortiz Law Firm has successfully represented people in disability cases across the United States. If you would like to talk to an experienced disability lawyer about your Crohn’s disease and its impact on your ability to work, call us at (888) 321-8131. We would be happy to evaluate your case and to discuss how to help you through the appeal process.