Crohn’s Disease and Long Term Disability

Background on Crohn’s

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 become 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;
  • nausea;
  • diarrhea; and
  • loss of appetite.

Crohn’s disease may also affect other organ systems of the body and cause additional symptoms, including:

  • extreme fatigue;
  • malnutrition;
  • neurological symptoms;
  • inflammatory arthritis;
  • vision problems;
  • weight loss;
  • skin rashes;
  • fever;
  • 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 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 (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

Disability benefits are a great financial help to those who are battling severe forms of Crohn’s disease. As the disease advances and the symptoms worsen, treatment becomes more and more expensive.

Unfortunately, long term disability insurance companies have been known to deny or terminate LTD claims just when the claimant needs the benefits most. If you have a severe case of Crohn’s and the insurance company has wrongfully denied or terminated your LTD benefits, you have legal rights and options at your disposal.

Contact the Ortiz Law Firm to discuss your rights and options. Mr. Ortiz has handled numerous disability claims involving Crohn’s and may be able to assist you in your claim. For more information and a free case evaluation, you can contact the Ortiz Law Firm at 850-308-7833.