We are currently having a collective experience that provokes some degree of natural anxiety in almost everyone. However, when the level of anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can prevent a person from being able to work in their occupation. Individuals with a private, short-term or long-term disability insurance policy, may be eligible for disability benefits.
Getting an anxiety claim or other mental/nervous type claim approved can be an uphill battle because objective evidence may be difficult to present. However, just because anxiety is not measurable by a blood test, x-ray or MRI, does not mean that the claim is not valid. There are steps that can be taken to make approval more likely.
Anxiety from a medical viewpoint
The National Institute of Mental Health explains that while everyone is anxious at times, an anxiety disorder is not temporary and the symptoms “can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.” Anxiety related diagnoses include the following:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): A person with GAD excessively worries almost daily for at least six months about a wide range of things and the stress causes “significant problems” in their life. Symptoms include fatigue, trouble with concentration, irritability, sleep problems, uncontrolled worry, restlessness and muscle tension.
- Panic disorder: Characterized by ongoing panic attacks, someone with panic disorder avoids anything they think could cause an attack. Symptoms include feeling a loss of control or of doom, pounding heartbeat, sweating, trembling and difficulty breathing.
- Phobias: Phobia-related disorders involve intense, out-of-proportion fear of a particular situation or thing, causing avoidance and severe anxiety when exposed to the dreaded object.
- Social anxiety disorder: Someone with this disorder fears social situations or other environments like work or school because of an intense fear of negative judgment from others.
- Others include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), agoraphobia, separation anxiety and more
Presentation of a disability claim for anxiety
It is important to provide information which confirms the disabling effects of anxiety because many insurance companies either discount the severity of mental health problems or accuse the claimant of not providing enough “objective medical evidence.”
Mental health conditions are as real and debilitating as those based on physical injury or illnesses such as cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. Following are examples of evidence that can be used to persuasively support a claim for disability based on anxiety or another mental/nervous condition:
- Medical records showing medication, doctors’ observations, individual or group therapy, frequency of seeking help, symptoms reported to medical providers and treatment records
- Statements from treating doctors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists that detail professional evaluation and observation of the person’s anxiety disorder, including specific symptoms, as well as any test results
- Statements from family, colleagues and friends about observations of behavior that reflects the anxiety disorder diagnosis – for example, avoidance, excessive fatigue, reassurance seeking, trembling, trouble breathing and others
- Clinical psychiatric testing during therapy sessions
- Neuropsychological Testing
- To counter potential insurance company surveillance of the claimant seemingly going about their life with little issue or “happy” pictures on social media – medical records should include notes from the treating mental health professionals which advise the patient to engage in normal activities that relieve stress, get them out of house or which they find therapeutic. Additionally, the records should reflect how stress impacts their ability to perform the activities of daily living and what a typical good day and bad day may look like
If you or someone you know are struggling with anxiety or other mental/nervous condition and are considering filing a claim for disability benefits, please feel free to contact DI Law Group for a free consultation. We will be happy to go over your policy information as well as the insurance company’s obligations under the Policy.