Lyme Disease Is a Mental Illness? Your Disability Insurer May Think So
Helping Those Suffering from Lyme Disease Get the Disability Benefits They Deserve
With the arrival of summer, most of the nation knows it’s time to break out the bug spray. Lyme disease has become a serious medical concern around the country with devastating long term problems. It’s even reported that disease-carrying ticks are appearing in cities and suburbs. In general, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by certain types of ticks. If bitten by an infected tick, you may develop a myriad of symptoms as a result of the infection and will have to undergo a regimen of powerful antibiotics. Many sufferers are even hospitalized while they undergo rigorous, aggressive treatment.
While there is actually an effective Lyme disease vaccine for your furry friends, not everyone has been inoculated.
Risk factors for Lyme disease include, but are not limited to:
- Pet ownership
- Outdoor activities
- Wild animal proximity
- Lack of effective bug repellent
- Inappropriate outerwear in forested areas
- Failure to do self-checks
Lyme disease can affect a person medically for the rest of their life. In fact, it can manifest years later in the form of arthritis and related joint conditions, impaired memory and other cognitive disabilities, chronic fatigue, and pain. Your individual or group long-term disability insurance generally provides benefits if you can’t work due to Lyme disease, but they’re often more difficult to claim beyond any self report limitation. This is because insurance companies often consider Lyme disease symptoms “self-report,” or the cognitive issues are really a mental health condition. If your Lyme disease symptoms have left you disabled from work, contact an experienced individual and nationally prominent disability insurance lawyer from DarrasLaw today at 800-898-7299 or online to protect your legal right to long-term disability benefits.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease and Your Individual or Group Disability Benefits
While Lyme disease is primarily a bacterial infection, the disease itself is characterized by its symptoms:
- Bull’s eye rash
- Small red bumps
- Body aches
- Erythema migraines
- Meningitis of the brain
- Bell’s palsy
- Impaired muscle movement
- Numbness and weakness in limbs
- Joint pain
As you can imagine, any combination of these symptoms is enough to keep you from working. This is why you have individual or long-term disability benefits through your employer or a group-sponsored plan—to help you through those times when your health prevents you from earning a living.
When you apply for individual or group disability benefits, however, simply stating you have Lyme disease is not enough. Instead, you need to submit sufficient medical evidence showing objectively, testing to confirm the disease, pictures of the bull’s eye rash, proper medication administered during the first 30 days after being bitten. Further, the insured and the treating doctor must marry how the symptoms of your disease prevent you from performing the important duties of your occupation, or in some cases, any occupation by which you are trained, educated, or suited. For example, if you work construction, you would need your treating doctor to explain that your severe joint pain, body aches, fevers, numbness, and weakness in the limbs prevents you from walking, lifting, or standing.
Lyme Disease as Mental Illness
Your blood work can easily show that you have a bacterial infection associated with Lyme disease, but when the infection is cured, how do you prove you’re still suffering from disabling symptoms? It’s hard to medically prove your level of pain, stiffness, and the severity of migraines. Further, Lyme disease lab work is plagued by false positives.
For this reason, individual and group long-term disability insurance companies may label Lyme disease as a type of somatic symptom disorder, which is classified as a mental illness. Somatic symptom disorders are defined as when your focus on extreme pain or fatigue causes major emotional distress. Because the symptoms of Lyme disease persist after the initial infection is arguably cured, chronic Lyme disease may also wrongfully get grouped into this mental health category, subject to 24 months of benefits.
Similar to fibromyalgia, the extreme joint pain and fatigue associated with chronic Lyme disease symptoms are unfortunately subject to self-report. While your treating doctor can help confirm your symptoms, you’re essentially asking your disability insurer to trust that you can’t perform the important duties of your occupation.
The problem is that individual and group long-term disability insurance companies often limit benefits for self-report illnesses. Because of the prevalence of insurance fraud involving conditions that cannot be clinically confirmed—and because your individual or group long-term disability insurance company wants to keep as much of your premium and pay out as little as possible—your individual or group disability insurer may only permit you to recover benefits for a short period of time, as outlined in your policy. Even if you’re still suffering from the objective symptoms of chronic Lyme disease at the end of your self-reported benefits period, your individual or group long-term disability insurer may terminate your benefits for that condition.
Using Clinical Evidence to Qualify for Individual or Group Long-Term Disability Benefits
Chronic Lyme disease is closely associated with severe arthritis. While your individual or group long-term disability insurance company may limit your benefits for self-report conditions, you may still suffer from a clinical condition it will cover.
Bell’s Palsy, meningitis, nerve damage, and arthritis associated with Lyme disease are all separate, clinically diagnosed conditions. If your chronic Lyme disease symptoms manifest into these or other clinically diagnosable conditions that prevent you from working, you may qualify for additional individual or group long-term disability benefits.
In this case, how you present your medical evidence is essential, even at the beginning of the individual or group disability insurance claims process. Your medical records will need to confirm that you developed a clinical condition as the result of the initial tick infection. The experienced and award-winning individual and long-term ERISA disability attorneys at DarrasLaw can review the terms and limitations of your long-term disability policy and your medical records to see if you qualify for disability individual or group disability benefits.
Don’t Give Up. Contact a Top-Rated Individual Disability Lawyer or Nationally Prominent Group ERISA Attorney Today
You’re tired and in pain, so the last thing you want to do is lose your individual or group long-term disability benefits. Whether you’re already receiving long-term individual or group disability benefits for Lyme disease, were just diagnosed with the condition, or are suffering from chronic symptoms of the disease, we can help.
The award-winning individual and experienced long-term disability insurance lawyers at DarrasLaw can help you avoid a wrongful delay, denial, or termination of benefits and can help you fight for your legal right to the benefits you’ve dearly paid for.
Nationally renowned disability lawyer Frank N. Darras, who has more than 30 years of litigation and claim experience fighting for America’s disabled, leads DarrasLaw. His firms have recovered nearly $1 billion in wrongfully delayed, denied, and terminated insurance benefits. To schedule your free disability policy analysis and free claim consultation with one of America’s top-rated individual disability insurance lawyers or award-winning group ERISA attorneys today, call us at 800-898-7299 or contact us online.