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LONG-TERM DISABILITY FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH MS

Beedem Law Feb. 22, 2022

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA), roughly 3.5 in every 1,000 Americans develop Multiple Sclerosis, commonly referred to as MS. MS is neither contagious nor hereditary, according to the MSAA, but the risk of developing MS increases for first-degree relatives – children and siblings – of those already suffering from the disease.

MS is a slowly developing disease, and even after 20 years, about two-thirds of all sufferers can still walk, though some may need assistive devices. Progression of the disease is often measured using what is called the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS).

How Does MS Affect Your Working Life? 

As the disease progresses, you may find it harder to accomplish tasks you routinely perform on the job, and accommodation may become necessary. For some, the disease can become so debilitating that work is no longer an option. In that case, the afflicted may have to turn to a long-term disability (LTD) policy they obtained through work.

What If the Insurer Denies the Claim?

Denial of LTD claims is fairly common, based usually on what the insurance company asserts to be a lack of sufficient medical evidence.

If you’re an MS sufferer who feels your condition is so disabling that you can no longer work and you need to file an LTD claim – or worse, you’ve filed one and have been turned down – contact Beedem Law if you’re in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area.

With more than 50 years of combined experience, our attorneys have long guided and fought for those seeking long-term insurance benefits for their disabilities. We will discuss your case with you, advise you of your options, and then help you pursue your claim or appeal.

What Is MS?

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that attacks the brain and the spinal cord, which make up one’s central nervous system. The cause is still unknown, but somehow MS triggers the immune system into attacking the myelin, the layer protecting nerve fibers, thus interrupting signals to and from the brain. The resulting miscommunication can cause unpredictable symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, mood changes, memory problems, pain, fatigue, blindness, and even paralysis.

For most people, the progress of MS is slow, and there may be relapses or flare-ups along the way. Usually, the afflicted can continue working, especially with new disease-modifying technologies and therapies currently available.

The Toll at Work

As MS progresses, the afflicted may need to miss some days of work. Taking a sick day here or there may give the symptoms time to recede. If you need more time, you may be able to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides for unpaid, protected leave from work to care for yourself.

If the disease prevents you from performing in the way you’re accustomed to, but you can still get the job done with a few workplace accommodations, either technological or systemic, you can work with your employer for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If You’re No Longer Able to Work

The United States has several nonprofit organizations to advise those with MS, and they all warn against making a hasty decision about permanently leaving work. Some symptoms may make you feel that you can no longer perform your duties, but the symptoms may be temporary. You need to work closely with your healthcare professionals to determine when and if your disease is so disabling that you can no longer work.

If you do reach this point of progression, requiring you to cease working because of your disability, you can make a claim on your long-term disability (LTD) insurance policy if your employer provided one or if you purchased one on your own.

Proving Your LTD Claim

Proving a claim for benefits under an LTD policy based on MS is the same as proving any other disability claim. The insurer is going to require enough medical evidence to verify that you are indeed disabled.

Your initial claim should include not only your physician’s evaluation but also copies of X-rays, MRI results, and any other tests confirming your condition, including the EDSS score mentioned earlier (if available). Written testimony by family and friends of how MS affects your ability to carry out the functions of daily living can also be included.

Even with all this evidence, the insurer may require you to undergo what is called an independent medical examination (IME) by a physician or medical group of their choice. If you refuse or skip the IME, they can use that as a reason for denial.

Work With Long-Term Disability Benefits Attorneys

Insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they are cautious – to say the least – in approving long-term benefit claims without solid enough proof that the disability is real. Where many claimants fall short is by not initially providing as much evidence as they possibly can assemble to accompany their claims form.

Let our attorneys help you prepare your claim, or if your claim has been denied, let us assemble a package of supporting evidence to bolster your appeal.

At Beedem Law, we are dedicated to helping people with disabilities. Contact us immediately if your MS is preventing you from working and you need to file an LTD claim. We proudly serve clients in and around Minneapolis, including nearby Duluth and St. Paul, and throughout the counties of Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, and Anoka.