Anxiety and Depression may lead to Long-term Disability
The Canadian Mental Health Association reports that 20 percent of Canadians (or, one in five) will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives, and virtually all Canadians encounter mental illness when it affects a family member, friend or co-worker. Despite the prevalence and substantial effect of mental illness, many Canadians are unaware that their loved one is struggling with a psychological condition, in large part, due to the stigma attached to these disorders.
Two of the most common manifestations of mental illness are depression and anxiety. Both depression and anxiety can prove debilitating to affected individuals.
The Effects of Depression and Anxiety
Depression can manifest in a wide range of mental and physical symptoms. The most common indicators of depression are a diminished interest in everyday activities, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and sleep disturbances. Depression causes a person to feel sad or hopeless without knowing why they feel this way. In addition to feelings of sadness, symptoms of depression include: loss of enjoyment and interest in many or all normal activities; difficulty concentrating or making decisions; forgetfulness; lack of energy; restlessness or agitation; frustration over trivial matters; eating disorders, unexplained pain or headaches; slowed mental and physical processes; and feelings of suicide. For some people, depression symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with the ability to cope at work, school and in relationships.
Chronic anxiety is comparable to depression and many individuals suffer from both conditions. Like depression, anxiety is multifaceted and varies between individuals. It typically involves exaggerated or unwarranted fear of looming danger; difficulty concentrating as a result of this fear; and changes in behaviour to avoid a circumstance that triggers the anxiety. Phobias are sometimes manifestations of anxiety and can, in themselves, prompt anxiety attacks. Chronic anxiety can be the product of tangible medical problems, such as heart disease; anxiety may result from a traumatic event, such as a car accident; and may also be a side effect of medication. Anxiety can also be triggered by emotional difficulties – most commonly, stress.
An increasingly common source of stress for Canadians is work-related stress, and for some people, work stress results in anxiety. This anxiety can cause a person to feel fearful and apprehensive about their performance and their future, and may result in panic attacks, pain and other symptoms that can undermine their ability to work effectively.
Both anxiety and depression can make minor activities, such as getting out of bed in the morning, suddenly difficult. And, more demanding tasks, such as dealing with irate customers, challenging work problems or exams, may be completely overwhelming. The negative effects can be compounded when a person is faced with a high-pressure work environment.
At Kotak Personal Injury Law, our practice focuses on helping clients receive requisite long-term disability (LTD) compensation when their ability to work has been impacted by depression or anxiety. We have extensive experience in the resolution of LTD claims stemming from mental illness, and because anxiety, depression and other psychological disabilities are far more difficult to diagnose than physical and objectively measurable injuries, familiarity with the legal process is paramount. Mental illness claims are less likely to receive approval and more likely to be prematurely terminated, than other disability claims. Unfortunately, many individuals who genuinely suffer disabling symptoms due to anxiety and depression are denied disability benefits by their insurance company.
Applying for LTD Benefits due to Depression or Anxiety
As with all long-term disability claims, your LTD insurance provider will examine your application for benefits to assess whether your disability precludes you from working at an acceptable level. In order to qualify for LTD benefits, your claim must provide medical evidence from your family doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist and/or another appropriate health care professional, that your symptoms prevent you from performing the required tasks of your current job.
The insurance company will scrutinize your LTD claim for any indication that your description of your symptoms conflicts with your medical records. The insurer will also analyze the type, duration, and time frame of your medical care. Medical evidence of your reported symptoms, diagnosis and treatment is the most important facet of your claim; for this reason, it is vital that you seek professional help before making a disability claim for anxiety or depression. Specifically, your LTD insurance provider will assess whether you are receiving treatment from a mental health professional or a comparable specialist, whether you are taking prescribed medication, and whether the therapy and medication you receive is appropriate. Through no fault of your own, your claim can be denied if your insurance company finds that your medical care was inadequate.
A secondary type of evidence, which can help with your disability claim, are personal documents. Ideally, these will specifically document the nature of your struggle with depression or anxiety. This, too, illustrates the benefit of thinking ahead with respect to disability claims. However, absent this evidence, other documents such as emails or texts that you have sent, can also help with your claim.
Your insurer will examine your lifestyle and records. Unlike a member of the public who is inexperienced in disability claim application, LTD insurance claims adjusters are well versed in long term disability rules and contractual obligations, and are able to exploit certain common mistakes in order to deny a claim. Notably, collecting non-sickness unemployment benefits — which implies that a person is actively searching for a job and thus fit for work — can result in the dismissal of a long-term disability claim. Insurers will also seek information that disputes your credibility with respect to your disability claim; they will commonly do this by perusing through your social media accounts to find photos or posts that contradict your claim that depression or anxiety symptoms negatively impact your ability to function.
Long-term disability claims can involve a variety of complex and sometimes, counterintuitive aspects, which can be frustrating for claimants who do not deserve to have their integrity questioned. Claims relating to depression or anxiety are even more complex than those based on tangible and easily-measurable disabilities. Additionally, depression and anxiety inherently make struggling against insurance companies all the more frustrating. This is why, claimants who are suffering from psychological symptoms are particularly in need of professional assistance when their long-term disability claim is disputed or unjustly terminated. If your insurance company has denied your claim for benefits, call Kotak Personal Injury Law – we are highly experienced in this type of case and look forward to ensuring that you receive the settlement that you deserve.