Anxiety and Long-Term Disability: A Claimant’s Guide
Every year, millions of people suffer from an anxiety disorder, and for many, the symptoms can be debilitating. For those who suffer, the symptoms can sometimes be debilitating and leave them unable to work, even with medication and treatment.
Unfortunately, the complicated and frustrating disability claim process only leads to even more anxiety for those who suffer. Because anxiety disorders and other mental health issues don’t always have obvious visible signs, they can be especially challenging to prove, and insurance companies frequently dispute legitimate claims. This is why hiring an experienced long term disability attorney is so essential.
At Bryant Legal Group, we know what it takes to successfully file a long-term disability claim for an anxiety disorder. We work with claimants to ensure they file correctly and avoid tricks the insurance companies use to keep them from the compensation they deserve.
In this article, we will highlight common symptoms of anxiety disorders, why anxiety cases are increasing, and how to strengthen your claim.
Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
While anxiety disorders have a common set of symptoms, it’s important to understand that each person will experience anxiety in way that is unique to them. Your specific symptoms and triggers are important to know and understand so your doctor can establish a diagnosis and help you build a treatment plan. Be sure to take notice of how your anxiety affects you, as well as what causes your anxiety to flare up, before visiting with a mental health professional.
Anxiety disorders can be categorized (and differentiated from other mental disorders like major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder) based on their symptoms and causes. Below, we will describe a few the most common types of anxiety disorders and their symptoms. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention to get the help you need.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Those who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) experience an excessive and frequent level of anxiety for at least six months. This anxiety can relate to anything in daily life, including work, health, and relationships.
Symptoms of GAD include:
- Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
- Loss of or difficulty with concentration
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- Sleep disorders, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep
A panic disorder is mainly identified by the presence of panic attacks. These attacks can come on suddenly and are often related to a specific trigger, such as a particular set of circumstances, objects, or scenarios. The concern victims of panic disorders have over their next panic attack can lead to debilitating stress and serious impairment to their daily activities.
You may be having a panic attack if you’re experiencing the following:
- Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath
- Sensations of smothering or choking
- Feelings of impending doom
- Feeling out of control
Phobia disorders are a category of anxiety disorder that are triggered by a specific irrational fear, or phobia. There are a wide variety of possible triggers, including social anxiety, specific objects and scenarios, separation anxiety, or even agoraphobia.
Those who suffer from phobia-related disorders may experience the following:
- Irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation
- Actively avoiding the feared object or situation
- Immediate, intense anxiety when faced with the feared object or situation
- Intense anxiety associated with unavoidable interactions with their phobias
Rising Cases of Anxiety Disorders Among Frontline Workers
Due to the pressure created by the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of anxiety disorders are on the rise across the world. This is especially true among doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers who have experienced the worst of the pandemic firsthand. Frontline workers are experiencing burnout and mental illness in much higher numbers than average, which may affect their ability to perform in high-pressure occupations.
If you are a frontline worker and are experiencing mental health strain that is affecting your ability to work, seek psychological help and contact a lawyer to learn more about your disability options.
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How to Strengthen Your Long-Term Disability Claim
Securing long-term disability benefits for anxiety disorders can be difficult and place a high burden of proof on those suffering from anxiety. When you’re already dealing with anxiety, this is an extra burden and source of stress that you should not have to bear on your own.
Hiring an experienced attorney can help to remove this burden from you and your loved ones and get you the answers and help you need as quickly and easily as possible.
If you are experiencing symptoms so severe that they are interfering with your ability to do your job and you have not already sought medical evaluation and treatment, we strongly recommend seeking immediate medical attention.
Here are some practical tips that will help strengthen your long-term disability claim:
- Get an official diagnosis: Before filing, make sure you have a clear diagnosis of your anxiety disorder in your medical records. This diagnosis must show a direct connection between your mental illness and your inability to work.
- Gather and analyze evidence: The more evidence of your anxiety disorder you have, the stronger your case will be. Be sure to collect all evidence that will help prove that your anxiety disorder prevents you from work, including medical records, medications, and a narrative of your condition from you and your doctor’s perspectives.
- Ongoing medical care and treatment: Be sure to document all proof that you are receiving and continuing treatment for your condition. Every long-term disability benefits policy will have a clause that requires recipients to prove they are actively working to treat their anxiety disorder in order to retain their benefits.
- Hire an experienced disability lawyer: By hiring an experienced disability attorney, you remove the burden from you and your loved ones and gain an advocate who understands the disability insurance system and can negotiate on your behalf.
The Importance of Consistent Medical Care
Proof of consistent medical care is the single most important piece of evidence in a long-term disability claim. If you believe that your anxiety is preventing you from working, seek medical attention, even if it’s with a provider different from your primary care physician.
For your disability claim to be successful, you must have proof that your condition is severe enough that it prevents you from working. A medical diagnosis and the professional opinion of a qualified medical specialist will be necessary to separate your case from those who are still able to work while managing their anxiety disorder.
Although medications and psychotherapy may help some sufferers successfully manage their anxiety symptoms enough to go back to work, they don’t help everyone. This is what makes proving your claim especially difficult.
Make sure to provide proof that you have faithfully followed your doctor’s treatment plan and taken the appropriate steps to manage your symptoms, as your insurance company will look for any opportunity to argue that your symptoms are simply the result of a lack of effort. Those who try to claim disability without proof of treatment are considered non-compliant and are denied benefits.
Long-Term Disability Limits on Mental Health Claims
It is important to know that most long-term disability benefit plans have a “mental and nervous” clause that limits the duration of benefits for “mental health only” claims. These clauses usually limit benefits to a maximum of one to two years, regardless of the severity of your anxiety disorder.
If you can prove a physical or cognitive disability, you may be able to extend your benefits. However, this can be tricky and will likely require the help of an experienced disability lawyer. Be sure to carefully review your disability insurance policy and provide your attorney with all medical evidence available so they can help you get the most out of your disability claim.
Bryant Legal Group: Protecting the Rights of Anxiety Disorder Victims in Illinois
When you or a loved one are struggling with an anxiety disorder, the last thing you should have to worry about is whether your disability claim will be approved. Again, if you are in crisis, please immediately seek medical attention.
At Bryant Legal Group, our team of experienced disability attorneys are here to help guide you through the claims process, communicate with your insurance company, gather proof of your disabling conditions, and educate you on how long-term disability claims work. Our disability law firm fights for the rights of anxiety disorder victims using empathetic and personalized strategies, and can do the same for you.