Patients with chronic radiation enteritis may be unable to work because of their disease and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of their chronic radiation enteritis 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 Chronic Radiation Enteritis?
Chronic radiation enteritis is a chronic condition that develops after radiation is used to treat cancer in the abdominal and pelvic areas. Acute radiation enteritis is a side effect that occurs after the last radiation treatment is given and usually clears up within a few weeks. However, some patients continue to experience chronic radiation enteritis for months or even years. Doctors believe that many cases of chronic radiation enteritis go undiagnosed because patients are uncomfortable reporting symptoms to their physicians.
Symptoms of Chronic Radiation Enteritis include:
After radiation, it is normal to experience acute radiation enteritis. But after a few weeks, the symptoms should dissipate. Chronic radiation enteritis is usually defined as a person experiencing symptoms six months or longer. Symptoms can include:
- Stomach cramping;
- Frequent urges to use the bathroom;
- Watery diarrhea;
- Mucous discharge from the rectum;
- Rectal pain;
- Rectal bleeding;
- Weight loss;
- Wave-like stomach pains; and
Diagnosis of Chronic Radiation Enteritis
The diagnosis is determined based on a combination of factors. The first is to determine the extent of radiation therapy that you have received. How long you received radiation and when was your last treatment. Exclusion of other common illnesses will need to be determined as well. An upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy should be performed.
Treatment of Chronic Radiation Enteritis
There is no standard treatment plan for chronic radiation enteritis. Treatment plans can include anti-diarrhea medication, pain medication, steroids, and dietary restrictions. In some cases, radiofrequency ablation can be performed to help alleviate pain. Patients that have suffered damage to the small intestines and colon will need to have surgery to remove the damaged tissue or have intestinal bypass surgery.
Chronic Radiation Enteritis and Long Term Disability
Chronic radiation enteritis can cause significant life disruptions. Patients suffering from chronic radiation enteritis usually cannot continue to work full time due to the frequency and length of bathroom breaks. Pain is also a factor that can prevent patients from being able to perform job duties. Symptoms can be very unpredictable at times. This makes a consistent work schedule is often impossible.
The insurance company will base its decision on the information provided by your medical provider. A positive diagnosis and records that document the severe nature of your symptoms will need to be provided by your doctor. Your doctor will also need to provide a treatment plan for you. The LTD adjuster will take into account how chronic radiation enteritis affects your everyday life. However, you will still need to show how chronic radiation enteritis affects your ability to work. Your doctor will need to provide a list of restrictions that cause you not to be able to perform your normal duties at work.
Some examples are: Needing to use the restroom frequently (these can be long breaks at times) and frequent absences caused by chronic pain.
If your doctor has removed you from the workplace until you finish your treatment plan, you will need to apply for long term disability benefits. The insurance company will review your records and decide if you qualify for long term disability benefits based on their selection criteria.
Definition of Disability
Under most LTD policies, an individual is considered disabled if he or she is: (a) unable to perform the material duties of his or her own occupation for the first two years of the policy; and (b) unable to perform the duties of just about any occupation after the first two years of the policy. The definition of disability is specific to each individual policy, so you must review your own LTD policy to determine how the term “disability” or “totally disabled” is defined for you.
Proof of Chronic Radiation Enteritis
Evidence of symptoms alone will not be sufficient for a successful long term disability claim. You will need to provide medical documentation to support your claims. This will include medical reports from your doctors, hospitals, and laboratories that have treated you for chronic radiation enteritis. If you provide the insurance company with a list of all the locations that treated you for chronic radiation enteritis, they should be able to obtain your records directly. If they cannot, it will be up to you to obtain them.
It is important to remember to get any mental health records you may have regarding treatment for chronic radiation enteritis. This serious and chronic condition can cause you to need to seek counseling for depression and anxiety about living with chronic radiation enteritis. Provide the insurance company with your therapy notes.
If the insurance company decides that there is not enough evidence to process your claim, they may ask you to be evaluated by a doctor that works for them to ensure they have all the documentation they need to reach a decision.
Work with a Florida Long Term Disability Insurance Attorney to Ensure You Get the Benefits You Deserve
Working with an experienced disability attorney will give you the best chance of getting the benefits you deserve for your chronic radiation enteritis. 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 chronic radiation enteritis 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.