Patients with muscular dystrophy may be unable to work because of their disease and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of their muscular dystrophy 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 Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is a degenerative disease caused by genetic abnormalities. This affects the muscle system causing loss of control over muscle groups. Although born with the disease, it could take years, even decades, to develop symptoms because muscular dystrophy has many types.
The ones that most commonly affect working adults are:
- Becker Muscular Dystrophy – a slow progression of muscular dystrophy that happens in your 20s or later;
- Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy – a type of muscular dystrophy that makes it hard to relax the muscles once they are engaged. Usually shows signs in adulthood; and
- Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy – this type affects the shoulders and face. It can start showing symptoms in the teenage years through adulthood.
Since all of these types of muscular dystrophy develop later in life, symptoms are usually slow and progressive. They include:
- Muscle weakness;
- Lack of coordination;
- Poor balance;
- Difficulty walking; and
- Frequent falls.
There is no cure for muscular dystrophy, but there are many therapy options.
- Physical Therapy – Regular exercise can keep your muscles flexible and strong;
- Speech Therapy – Helps you learn to keep your speech skills when your facial muscles are affected by muscle degeneration; and
- Respiratory Therapy – Muscular dystrophy patients may notice that they are having trouble breathing when they start coughing, which can lead to infections. Keeping your respiratory system strong is another therapy recommended for advanced patients.
Applying for Long Term Disability Due to Muscular Dystrophy
Since various types of muscular dystrophy will only show symptoms later in life, you may be able to work for a while. As your symptoms progress, you need to think about long term care for yourself and applying for long term disability when you aren’t able to work any longer.
Ways to Build a Strong Claim
Even though a degenerative disability like muscular dystrophy should be approved without hesitation, the long term disability companies are always trying to make it more difficult for the claimants to be approved. The process can be long and frustrating. Having to speak to doctors, lawyers, and insurance representatives can be tiresome, especially if you are dealing with the daily frustrations of your disability. Creating a complete administrative file will help you build a strong long term disability case.
Keep a Record of Everything
Keeping a journal that records everything related to your disability is very important in keeping your claim on track. Your journal is your evidence that you have been tracking everything regarding your claim. When a disability claims adjuster questions you, you will be able to recall the information quickly.
You Need More Than a Doctor’s Note
Proving that you are disabled enough to receive long term disability benefits involves providing complete medical information, prognosis, and functional limitations. A note from the doctor will not be enough. Read your policy to understand how your insurance company defines “disability.” Work with your doctor and therapists to gather detailed notes on your disability for your claim. Be sure that your doctor is noting your pain levels, ordering testing and medications in a timely manner. Be sure to keep all of your appointments too. Insurance companies will use rescheduled appointments to suggest you must not be that sick if you don’t make your appointments.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Policy
Be sure to request a copy of your disability policy from your employer as soon as you know you will be filing a claim. Take the time to read through your entire policy to be sure you understand what your insurance company qualifies as a disability and what they do not. Make notes in your journal of timelines. This is critical. If you missed a deadline, your claim would be most likely be denied.
Consult An Attorney
Even with a claim for muscular dystrophy, it can be tricky to navigate the claims and appeals process. 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, do not lose hope. Many people are denied benefits the first time they apply. You have the right to file an appeal and to get more information that may help your case.
While the process can be daunting, your expert disability attorney will be able to guide you through the claim and appeal process. Getting expert help is often the difference between being denied and being approved for benefits. An experienced long term disability attorney can help you stay on top of your deadlines, help you gather your 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. 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 muscular dystrophy and its impact on your ability to work, the Ortiz Law Firm offers a free consultation with no obligation to use our firm. During the call, you can ask any questions you have regarding your claim, and we will answer them. To see how we can help you win your long-term disability case, call us at (888) 321- 8131.