Can I Receive Long Term Disability If I Have Cancer?
A cancer diagnosis is frightening. You are worried about your health but also your finances. How will you pay for monthly bills if you cannot work? Can you receive long term disability (LTD) benefits if you have cancer? The short answer is maybe. Most LTD benefit claims are approved when you are diagnosed with cancer but not all. Let us explain.
Approval of your claim will be determined by the severity of your illness and the type/length of your treatment plan. Cancer is classified into four stages. Doctors will classify cancer based on the size of the tumor and how much it has spread throughout your body.
- Stage 1: the tumor (a group of cells) is small, confined to one area of the body, and can be removed surgically. The recovery period is usually short; and stage 1 cancer is rarely approved for long term disability benefits, although short term disability may be available to you.
- Stage 2: the cancer is contained to one part of the body. It has spread but only to one centralized area.
- Stage 3: the cancer has spread to more lymph nodes and is starting to travel to places around the body through the lymphatic system. LTD benefits are approved for Stage 2 and Stage 3 when accompanied by symptoms like headache, pain, weakness, nausea, and severe fatigue.
- Stage 4: the cancer has spread throughout the lymph nodes and is moving to other parts of the body. Symptoms can significantly impair you, and treatment will be aggressive, making symptoms worse. Most stage 4 cases are eligible for long term disability benefits.
Cancer Treatments and Long Term Disability
Modern cancer treatments have come a long way, but if your cancer symptoms and treatment plan is preventing you from performing your principal job responsibilities, you could qualify for long term disability benefits.
There are standard treatments that are harsh on the body but are highly effective, like chemotherapy and radiation. Chemotherapy and radiation are known to cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, skin irritation, and overall weakness. New treatments like gene therapy, bone marrow transplants, proton therapy, radioactive seeds, and laser treatments are helping patients recover quicker with fewer side effects.
Long Term Disability Benefits Based on Treatment Plans
Your long term disability claim will significantly depend on the type of treatment and how long your doctors expect you to be receiving treatment. It stands to reason that more severe cancer cases have a better chance of approval.
Your LTD policy will outline what illnesses are covered; You have the right to a copy of your policy. Review your policy and be sure to gather all the necessary documentation for your claim. MRI’s, X-rays, biopsies, surgeries, ultrasounds, and CT-scans are a great start to help prove the severity of your case.
Your cancer treatment could also cause what is termed “late effects.” Late effects could be respiratory problems, muscle weakness, bone density weakness, including weakness of tooth enamel and the jaw bone. These symptoms can be a case for long term disability benefits as well.
The Assistance of an Experienced Disability Attorney
An experienced disability attorney can help you gather the necessary medical information needed for your claim. They can help you track your deadlines (which are very strict), gather evidence such as medical statements/opinions from your doctors, represent you during a field interview (link to field interview post) and communicate with the insurance company for you.
Many questions need answers when you are dealing with disability benefits and insurance companies. If you are not getting the answers you need, give us a call at 850-308-7833.
Although based in Florida, the Ortiz Law Firm represents claimants across the United States. If you’d like to speak to one of our Pensacola Long-Term Disability Insurance Attorneys contact us at 850-308-7833 to schedule a consultation. We can help you evaluate your claim to determine if you will be able to access Long-Term Disability Benefits and how to move forward with the process.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, the American Cancer Society has support groups to help you. Click here for a list.