For most of the past year, hospital based nurses, doctors, and medical staff as well as first responders have been repeatedly exposed to the traumatizing effects of COVID-19. Watching patients suffer from an illness about which we have little understanding and having to step into the role of family due to quarantine requirements has taken a huge toll on our health workers and first responders. Given the numbers of critically ill patients, higher than normal mortality rates, lack of a cure, and constant exposure to trauma, we are seeing an increasing number of health care workers and first responders approach us about filing a claim for short term and long term disability benefits due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety and Depression.
Filing a claim for disability benefits based on a mental nervous claim can be tricky because often there is a lack of “hard”, objective evidence to confirm these illnesses. However, as those on the front line can attest, constantly dealing with stressful, emergency situations can greatly impact one’s mental and physical functionality. In fact, studies both in the U.S, and abroad have confirmed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health workers are experiencing higher than normal levels of PTSD symptoms, anxiety and depression. Yet many are hesitant to file a claim for disability because they question their right to such benefits or because they simply lack the energy and time required to apply for short term and long term disability insurance benefits. It is important to remember that most disability insurance policies do not require the claimant to be an invalid or completely debilitated; rather, total disability is defined as the inability to perform the material duties of YOUR OCCUPATION as the result of an injury or illness.
As we have pointed out in prior blog posts, insurance companies often challenge mental/nervous disability claims and deny benefits based on a lack of evidence that the insured’s condition is severe enough to prevent them from working. Providing the right evidence, including medical records, testing, physician statements, and testimonials is crucial for these claims. It has been our experience that our clients’ doctors are willing to work with us to establish their patient’s right to disability and give us the documentation necessary to prove the claim.
If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD like symptoms, anxiety or depression 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 situation, policy information and discuss your insurance company’s obligations under the Policy.