What Is Essential Tremor?
Essential tremor is a disorder of the nerves that shows itself through uncontrollable shaking, or tremors, on different sides and in different parts of the body. It can affect areas such as the chin, tongue, larynx, head, arms, and hands, but rarely affects the lower body.
Essential tremor disorder is not life-threatening unless it keeps a person from being able to care for him or herself. It can make everyday activities like writing, dressing, and eating difficult, but only causes actual disability when it becomes severe.
It is thought that essential tremor is caused by abnormal electrical brain activity that is processed through the thalamus. This structure found deep in the brain, controls and coordinates a person’s muscle activity.
Half of all cases of ET are genetic. A parent with essential tremor has a 50 percent chance of passing on the responsible gene to their child, but it may not be noticeable until later in life. ET is more commonly found in the elderly, becoming more pronounced as a person ages, but it is not a natural part of aging.
ET affects around 10 million people in the United States, making it the most common movement disorder. It can occur at any age, but most often symptoms appear for the first time during adolescence or middle age.
Disability Evaluation of ET
Long-term disability insurance companies most often refer to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to evaluate essential tremor. The CDC defines essential tremor as a movement disorder that causes rhythmic and involuntary shaking, especially in the hands. It usually occurs by itself, without any other neurological signs or symptoms.
In order to qualify for long-term disability, your tremors must significantly interfere with your school, work, personal, and social activities. You must also experience at least four of the following symptoms for six months or more:
- Balance issues
- Tremors that decrease with rest
- Tremors that worsen with purposeful movement
- Tremors that get worse during periods of emotional stress
- Head nodding
- Shaking voice
- Uncontrollable shaking for extended periods of time
To be approved for long-term disability benefits, you’ll need medical documentation that proves you fit the above criteria and that none of your symptoms were caused by a condition before the onset of your essential tremor.
Long-Term Disability and Essential Tremor
When you suffer from the effects of essential tremor, you may find it impossible to work on a full-time basis. When this happens, long-term disability benefits can be a helpful financial solution. To get them, you’ll need to fill out an application, then wait for the insurance company to decide whether you qualify as disabled as determined by the LTD insurance policy.
The decision will be based on the information you provide in your application and the documentation from your medical providers. Still unsure what the long-term disability insurance company uses to evaluate your LTD claim for essential tremor? The following information may help.
What Is Disability?
Insurance policies differ, so you’ll need to find out how the terms “totally disabled” and “disability” are defined for your specific plan. Most policies are split into “own occupation” and “any occupation.”
With an “own occupation” policy, you are considered disabled if you are incapable of performing the job duties for your current position. “Any occupation” policies are stricter. You’ll need to prove that you cannot perform the duties of any position you qualify for based on your experience, education, and training, not just your current job.
How to Prove Essential Tremor
It takes more than symptoms alone to be approved for LTD, but their effects are usually considered in the insurance company’s decision. You’ll have to back up your claims with medical documentation that provides clinical and laboratory findings from your doctors. The insurance company will sometimes use your medical information on its own to make their decision if it definitively proves that you are disabled.
How Disability Is Evaluated for ET
After receiving your application, the LTD company assigns an adjudicator and potentially other medical professionals, such as a psychologist, physician, or disability examiner, to review your claim. You might be expected to get a medical examination or functional capacity evaluation from a doctor to determine your level of impairment. The adjudicator then uses that evidence to make a decision. If they feel they don’t have enough information to make that determination, you may be required to provide additional evidence.
Medical documentation including clinical and laboratory findings should also be turned in. Symptoms and diagnosis are not enough. Your LTD benefits company requires all of your doctor’s objective findings to scientifically prove you are disabled.
If essential tremor or another mental or physical disorder is keeping you from successfully performing your job duties, you may qualify for long-term disability benefits. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to obtain. If you find yourself denied for LTD despite having a genuine disability, let Nick Ortiz Law help. Contact us today at (888) 321-8131 to find out how we can get you the benefits you deserve.