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How does psychotherapy impact the length of disability payments?

When many people who sign up for disability insurance, whether as individuals or through their employers, they are seeking to protect some portion of their income should they become injured or ill. Most of us don’t anticipate having to take time away from work to get treatment for depression. However, the financial cost of depression can impact not only individuals and their families, but employers, insurers, other insurance customers and the community as a whole.

A study conducted in Canada found some interesting correlations between the use of psychotherapy (specifically cognitive behavioral therapy) to treat depression and the length of time that patients received long-term and short-term disability insurance. As noted in the abstract to one of these studies on the U.S.-based National Institutes of Health website, “Depression is the most frequent reason for receiving disability benefits in North America.”

Among people with LTD who were suffering from depression, those who were treated with psychotherapy returned to work sooner and had their claims closed more quickly than other LTD claimants who did not receive this type of therapy for their illness. However, those receiving psychotherapy who had STD stayed on disability longer than those who weren’t treated with psychotherapy.

Researchers were not able to explain these seemingly paradoxical results definitively. They noted that other factors, including age, impacted how long patients with depression remained on disability. They recommended further study to determine what factors affect how long the disability claim remains open.

As we have noted here before, disability claims for mental illnesses can be more difficult to get approved and continued than claims for physical illnesses and injuries. The symptoms as well as the results gained by treatment can be harder to prove.

Insured people whose depression or other mental illness requires them to take time away from work have the same rights to disability payments as someone with a physical ailment. When insurance companies don’t see it that way, you may want to explore your legal options so that you and your family can get the financial assistance needed while you get the appropriate treatment.

Source: GoodTherapy.org, “Does Psychotherapy Treatment Effect Length of Disability Claim?,” Jen Wilson, accessed June 14, 2015

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