Disability Insurance Claim

Shoulder pain is incredibly common: about 18–26% of all adults will experience it in their lifetime. While some of us will recover relatively quickly, many people with shoulder problems experience chronic, disabling symptoms.

At Bryant Legal Group, we help people with shoulder pain and dysfunction receive the disability insurance benefits they deserve. In this article, we explain the essentials of a disability insurance claim involving shoulder pain.

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Your shoulder is one of the most complex joints in your body. Thanks to the shoulder’s robust structure and wide range of motion, you’re able to lift, push, pull, carry, reach, and move your arm in all directions.

However, when something happens to the bones, ligaments, muscles, and joint capsule that make up your shoulder, you can suddenly find yourself unable to perform even simple tasks, like brushing your hair or picking up a bag of groceries.

There are many causes of shoulder pain:

  • Arthritis or degenerative joint disease: A lifetime of wear and tear can lead to degenerative changes in your shoulder, including thinning of tissues, bone spurs, loss of cartilage, and swelling.
  • Bursitis and tendinitis: When structures in your shoulder, like the bursa or tendons, become swollen and irritated, it can cause severe shoulder pain.
  • Frozen shoulder: Also called adhesive capsulitis, this condition occurs when the connective tissues in your shoulder thicken or tighten, making it difficult to move. You typically develop a frozen shoulder after the joint has been immobilized for a long time, such as after surgery.
  • Labral tears: Your labrum is a cuff of cartilage that keeps your shoulder joint in place. SLAP lesions and other labral injuries can be very painful and may limit your use of the shoulder.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: As your immune system attacks your tissues, you may experience swelling, bone erosion, and contractures in your shoulders and other joints.
  • Rotator cuff injuries: Your rotator cuff stabilizes your shoulder and allows for the joint’s broad range of motion. If any of the muscles that make up your rotator cuff are damaged, you may experience severe pain and limitations.
  • Shoulder instability: Because your shoulder is the most moveable joint in your body, it can dislocate relatively easily. However, once you’ve suffered a shoulder dislocation, you may experience chronic instability, which means your arm bones can slip out of place.

Some professionals face a higher risk of shoulder issues than others. If you frequently have to lift heavy weights, push, pull, carry, work above shoulder height, work in awkward positions, or take the force of vibrations, you’re more likely to experience shoulder pain. And shoulder pain isn’t just for blue-collar workers: surgeons, dentists, nurses, and athletes also report high levels of shoulder pain.

Can I Get Disability Insurance Benefits for Shoulder Pain?

Yes. However, your eligibility for disability insurance benefits will depend on a series of factors:

  • The severity of your shoulder condition
  • How long you’ll be unable to work due to your shoulder issues
  • Your work experience and education
  • Your disability insurance policy’s terms and conditions

If you need help assessing your eligibility for short-term or long-term disability insurance benefits, you should consult an experienced disability lawyer.

RELATED: How to Apply for Disability Insurance: A Professional’s Guide

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3 Ways to Strengthen Your Shoulder Pain Disability Claim

Even if you have an obvious shoulder injury, you might have a hard time collecting the disability insurance benefits you deserve. Here are three things you can do to strengthen your application for short-term or long-term disability.

1. Understand Your Disability Plan’s Terms and Conditions

Every disability insurance plan has different terms and conditions that can affect your right to benefits. First, look at how your plan defines “disability.” If you have an “own occupation” policy, you only need to prove that you cannot perform your actual job. However, if your plan has an “any occupation” definition of disability, you’ll need to show that you cannot perform any type of work.

Even if you have an “own occupation” policy, the insurance company might try to redefine your job. For example, suppose you’re a cardiothoracic surgeon with chronic shoulder pain. You file for long-term disability, but the insurance company argues that you can still work as a family physician, telehealth provider, or healthcare administrator. To fight back, you’ll need a skilled disability insurance lawyer and testimony from a vocational expert.

Second, look out for your policy’s limitations and exclusions. You may have a significant waiting period before you become eligible for disability benefits. Or, your plan might deny coverage for specific conditions, especially if you have a private disability insurance policy.

You can review your plan’s exact terms in the Plan Document or Summary Plan Description. If you’re having a tough time understanding all the legalese, contact Bryant Legal Group for help.

2. Get Consistent Medical Treatment

Shoulder injuries are notoriously slow to heal and difficult to treat. If you don’t have consistent, ongoing treatment, the insurance company might argue that your symptoms have improved, that you’re capable of working, or that your pain isn’t substantiated by objective medical evidence. You’ll be in a much stronger position if you have medical records, including MRI and CT scans, that track your progress, document your symptoms, and outline the root causes.

3. Speak With a Disability Insurance Lawyer

Filing a short or long-term disability insurance claim requires attention to detail and extensive legal and medical knowledge. Unlike an adjuster, who works for the insurance company, a disability insurance lawyer will be on your side.

At Bryant Legal Group, we help our clients navigate their shoulder-related insurance claims, ensuring that they meet strict filing deadlines, build strong evidentiary records, and avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous insurance companies.

Bryant Legal Group: Knowledgeable and Respected Disability Insurance Lawyers

If you or a loved one live with shoulder pain, the team at Bryant Legal Group can help you understand your legal options. We’ve been helping people with serious shoulder conditions for decades, and we understand the challenges you face. As one of Illinois’ premier disability law firms, we can also help you regain control.

To schedule your free, no-risk consultation, contact us at (312) 561-3010 or use our online form

References
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Bryant Legal Group

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

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Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

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Disability Insurance Claim

As you prepare a short or long-term disability claim, you’ll face countless questions about your symptoms, limitations, and daily activities. It can be difficult to articulate accurate, honest answers to questions about your ability to stand, lift, and walk. Thankfully, there are tools that can help.

At Bryant Legal Group, we suggest keeping a disability journal to help you understand the full extent of your symptoms and limitations, giving you information that may lead to a stronger application for benefits and streamlined claim process.

In this article, we explain the essentials of disability journaling and symptom tracking. 

What Is a Disability Journal?

A disability journal isn’t like your junior high diary. Instead, it is a detailed log of your symptoms, daily activities, treatment, and other important information related to your condition or circumstances. Depending on your personal preferences, you may use a daily calendar or planner, a notebook, or a symptom tracking app like Flaredown.

Whether you like to write on paper or track your symptoms electronically, your disability journal should include the following information every day:

  • Physical and mental symptoms
  • Pain and fatigue levels
  • Daily activities and how long you could sustain them
  • Frequency, duration, and reason for your rest periods or naps
  • Treatment protocols — including medications, use of heat or ice, and elevating your legs
  • Side effects from medications or therapy
  • Identified triggers that worsen your symptoms — including high stress, weather, diet, and social interaction

Depending on your medical conditions and diagnosis, you may want to add other specific criteria. If you need help building your journal, consult with your doctors and disability lawyer.

You’ll want to be as specific as possible when you track your symptoms. For example, don’t just note that your pain or depression is “bad.” Instead, track it on a ten-point scale, with one being almost no issues and ten being debilitating symptoms that require hospitalization.

3 Reasons Why a Disability Journal May Strengthen Your Long-Term Disability (LTD) Claim

Admittedly, keeping a detailed disability journal isn’t the simplest process. You’ll need to think deeply and honestly about your symptoms, capabilities, and limitations. However, we believe that symptom-tracking and journaling can refine your disability insurance claim and improve your conversations with your physicians.

1. It’s Easy to Adjust to Your “New Normal” and Ignore Your Symptoms

Humans are remarkably resilient. As you learn to cope with chronic pain, symptoms that wax and wane, and your permanent limitations, it’s easy to adjust and feel as if you’re living your normal life.

This is problematic when you are completing a disability insurance application. When you become too accustomed to your daily routine and chronic issues, it’s easy to miss out on important details about your daily life. When you consistently journal your symptoms and daily activities, however, it can help you articulate and understand the challenges you face.

For example, when you’re filling out your disability application, you may be asked questions about your ability to do chores or cook meals. It’s easy to say that you do these things “normally.” However, your journal might highlight that your meals are now microwaveable “heat and eat” choices or that you typically take a two-hour nap after a half-hour of cleaning.

2. Symptom Journaling Helps Track the Progression of Your Symptoms

Most people’s symptoms change and develop over time. For this reason, it’s a good idea to start your disability journal early on — even before you become unable to work. Your flares might become more frequent or plateau. Your activity tolerances might decrease. It’s easy to ignore or adjust to your symptoms.

A journal can help you identify the frequency and duration of symptomatic flares, symptomatic progression, and exactly when your conditions began to negatively impact your work, hobbies, and homelife. 

3. A Symptom Journal Can Help You Discuss Your Conditions With Your Doctors

We’re all guilty of telling our doctors we’re doing “okay” when we’re really not. Some people would rather not admit their vulnerability; others struggle to define their symptoms.

Rather than telling your doctor that you had “a couple flares” since your last visit, you can bring your disability journal with you to your appointments. Then, you can use the information within to help explain your symptoms’ frequency, duration, and impact with precision.

When your doctors understand your situation, they can craft more detailed medical records, work restrictions, and treatment recommendations. Together, these factors can improve the quality of your care, your likelihood of improvement, and the viability of your disability insurance claim.

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The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Bryant Legal Group

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

Request Your Free Consultation

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Disability Insurance Claim

Someone in the United States experiences a stroke every 40 seconds. During a stroke, survivors can suffer permanent brain damage that negatively impacts their ability to think, move, communicate, and perform their daily routine. In many cases, survivors can no longer work, so they turn to short-term and long-term disability policies for financial support.

If you or a loved one is a stroke survivor considering a disability insurance claim, you may have a lot of questions. Below, the disability professionals at Bryant Legal Group discuss the essentials of a stroke-related disability claim.

What Is a Stroke?

Strokes occur when something cuts off blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die. There are several types of stroke.

Ischemic Stroke

During an ischemic stroke, blood clots block a blood vessel and stop its flow to the brain. These blood clots can form anywhere in the body but often build up in the heart or arteries. Nearly 90% of strokes are ischemic.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an aneurysm bursts or a blood vessel leaks or breaks in the brain. As blood collects in the brain, it causes swelling and pressure that can damage and kill delicate brain tissues. While more rare than ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes cause about 40% of stroke deaths.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Technically, a TIA is not a stroke, although it creates stroke-like symptoms. During a transient ischemic attack, blood flow to the brain is temporarily halted but eventually continues. While a TIA rarely causes permanent brain damage, it places victims at a higher risk of stroke in the future.

According to the National Stroke Association, there are roughly seven million stroke survivors in the United States.

FAST for Stroke

A quick response is vital when someone is having a stroke. While untreated, a stroke patient loses roughly 1.9 million neurons per minute. Doctors sometimes use the acronym FAST to help identify someone who needs immediate stroke treatment:

  • Face: When the person smiles, does one side of their face droop?
  • Arms: If they lift both of their arms, does one arm drift down?
  • Speech: When the person repeats a simple phrase, do they slur or garble their words?
  • Time: If you see any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Other stroke symptoms can include sudden confusion, numbness, vision problems, dizziness, balance issues, and severe headache.

Sometimes, doctors can reduce the impact of a stroke by administering medications and performing surgeries. However, the longer it takes to diagnose and treat the individual, the more likely they are to suffer permanent and disabling brain damage.

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How Do Doctors Treat and Rehabilitate Stroke Patients?

Every stroke recovery is different. Some stroke survivors (about 10%) quickly return to their pre-stroke lifestyle and abilities, while others struggle with debilitating limitations. Roughly 10% of stroke survivors require skilled nursing care — and about 40% experience moderate-to-severe disabilities that require ongoing care and accommodations.

Typically, before you start a stroke treatment and rehabilitation program, your doctors will assess your function with the NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS). This scale evaluates a stroke survivor’s abilities using 11 different factors — including level of consciousness, response to visual stimuli, and motor skills.

Based on your test results and NIHSS scores, your medical team may suggest a variety of treatment options, including:

  • Medical Care: Addresses underlying health issues that increase your risk for another stroke — such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • Monitoring: Your doctors will likely request consistent follow-up care and medical supervision, especially for hemorrhagic strokes.
  • Occupational Therapy: Therapy designed to re-teach everyday skills and strengthen motor and sensory abilities.
  • Physical Rehabilitation and Therapy: Therapy that helps rebuild strength and function in the limbs and teaches methods to regain independence despite stroke-related limitations.
  • Speech and Language Therapy: Improves communication skills, re-teaches social cues, and helps rebuild swallowing abilities.

You may also require a stay in a more intensive rehabilitation hospital or facility, or you might need nursing or home care for a period of time. For many survivors, stroke recovery lasts a lifetime.

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Essential Questions You Should Ask a Disability Insurance Lawyer

Should I File for Disability Insurance Benefits After a Stroke?

If you are unable to work or maintain a job due to your stroke, you may qualify for short-term or long-term disability benefits. However, many factors can impact the strength of your disability insurance claim — including the severity of your residual limitations, your other medical conditions, your occupation, and the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.

Before you apply for disability benefits, you should consult with your doctors and an experienced disability attorney. Together, these professionals can help you fully understand your prognosis, work restrictions, the disability insurance policy’s requirements, and your legal options.

RELATED ARTICLE: Do You Know the Deadline for Filing Your ERISA Claim?

If you, your doctors, and your disability attorney agree that it’s time to file for disability insurance benefits, your claim could go through several stages.

Application for Benefits

During the initial stage of an employer-sponsored disability insurance claim, you and your lawyer will collect evidence that supports your claim, including:

    • Medical records
    • Rehabilitation and therapy notes
    • Records from long-term care or nursing facilities
    • Psychological and cognitive studies
    • Statements from your physicians and therapists
    • Information about your pre-stroke job and skills

Once you’ve built a comprehensive record, you’ll submit this information and an application for benefits to the insurance company.

An insurance adjuster will review your claim and may ask for additional information. Once their investigation and review are complete, you will receive a letter in the mail that either approves or denies your claim.

Administrative Appeal

If the insurance company denies your application for benefits, you may want to file an appeal. At this stage, it’s vital to provide any missing information that supports your claim to the insurance company. Again, the insurance company will either approve or deny your claim.

Federal Court Appeal

Once the insurance company issues a final decision about your stroke-related disability claim, you can file a federal lawsuit. However, you cannot submit additional evidence to the judge. Because ERISA claims are complex, you’ll typically need a lawyer’s guidance.

If your stroke disability claim involves private insurance rather than an employer-sponsored plan, you’ll follow a different process. A disability lawyer can help you understand the procedures and rules that apply to your specific claim.

Bryant Legal Group: Advocates for Disabled Stroke Survivors

Bryant Legal Group is one of Illinois’ preeminent disability law firms. We focus on complex insurance claims and provide our clients with personalized advice, practical strategies, and exceptional service. To request a complimentary evaluation, please contact Bryant Legal Group by calling 312-561-3010 or completing this brief online form.

References
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Bryant Legal Group

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

Request Your Free Consultation

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.