At some point, those suffering from chronic radiation enteritis may not be able to work due to their disease and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of chronic radiation enteritis may qualify for long term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance carrier will review the claim and determine if the claimant meets the terms of the disability insurance policy.
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.
If your doctor says you need to stay away from work until your treatment is over, you should apply for long-term disability benefits. The insurance company will look over your records and decide if you meet their requirements to receive these benefits.
The Definition of Disability
Under most LTD plans, you’re considered disabled if you can’t do your job’s main tasks for the first two years of your plan. After two years, you’re considered disabled if you can’t do almost any job. But this definition can change based on your specific LTD plan, so you should read yours to understand how it defines “disability” or “totally disabled.”
Proof of Disability
You need to provide medical records that support your claim. This includes reports from your doctors, hospitals, and labs that treated your chronic radiation enteritis. Your doctor should give a list of things you can’t do that you need to do for your job. For example, you might need to use the restroom often, which can take a long time, or you might miss work often because of pain.
Don’t forget to get any mental health records you might have. Living with chronic radiation enteritis can be tough, and you might have seen a counselor for feelings like depression or anxiety. You should give these therapy notes to the insurance company. If the insurance company doesn’t think they have enough proof to make a decision, they might ask you to see a doctor who works for them.
Work with a Long Term Disability Lawyer to Get the Benefits You Deserve
Hiring a disability lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve for chronic radiation enteritis. Even if you were denied benefits before, you can still fight for them. Many people get denied the first time they apply. You can appeal this decision and try to get more proof for your case. Having a lawyer can often mean the difference between getting denied and approved.
While this might seem like a lot, your lawyer will help you through the process. They only get paid if you win your case, so you don’t have to worry about paying upfront or getting surprise bills.
The Ortiz Law Firm has helped people with disability cases all over the country. If you want to talk to a skilled disability lawyer about chronic radiation enteritis and how it affects your ability to work, call us at (888) 321-8131. We’d be happy to look at your case and talk about how to help you through the appeal process.