What Dentists Need to Know About Disability Insurance During COVID-19
Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, the public and media have focused a great deal of attention on the impact of medical doctors – and rightly so. However, the economic and mental impact on other professions, especially dentists, is also immense.
This week, a United States Senator from Maine, Susan Collins, discussed this very issue. Americans are skipping dental appointments, she said, because of social distancing and causing major problems when cavities go unfilled resulting in the need for root canals and when root canals cannot be performed, tooth extractions. One of the unknown signs of overall physical health is dental health because diseases and viruses enter through the mouth and poor dental care allows for the spread of diseases throughout the body.
The financial impact on dentists who are unable to make a living due to their loss of patients as well as those dentists who have suffered various health ailments because of the crisis. There are dentists who are currently quite sick because they have contracted the virus, there are dentists who have PTSD-like symptoms as a result of this virus and there are dentists dealing with other long-term health issues all of whom may be eligible to make disability claims. A recent study showed three out of four dentists suffer from musculoskeletal disorders (from continuous crooking and craning) that impact the ability to practice and some studies suggest the percentage of dentists suffering from debilitating pain in the back, neck, shoulder or arm is as high as 68%.
Any dentist battling chronic pain may finally, in this depressed economic climate, decide to finally make a long-term total and permanent disability insurance claim. The country will no doubt lose a number of seasoned, veteran dentists due to this very issue. In doing so, many dentists need to keep a very close eye on their disability policies as well as the procedures laid out to make a proper claim. Dentists who own their own practice may have their own group disability policy for themselves and their staff and hopefully have their own individual disability policy and business overhead expense coverage for themselves that covers the company/practice owner.
Making a long-term disability insurance claim is certainly an option for any dentist facing physical or mental health issues that are disabling. When making a long term disability insurance claim, or even a short term disability claim, insurance companies will typically do the following:
- Speak with your treatment providers, attempt to interview coworkers and partners about your condition.
- Request a wide range of personal information including appointment books, daily procedures, tax returns, etc.
- Schedule a face-to-face interview (which now may be done via video conference)
- Request an in-person functional capacity or independent medical exam
- Possibly use a private investigator to conduct surveillance to capture the insured doing activities inconsistent with the disability
- Scour the internet, social media, Facebook, LinkedIn to capture activities the insured or his/her friends are posting
Some of these claim investigation tactics may change due to the coronavirus, but this could also lead to longer delays and denials of claims across the country. It’s in these moments when having a skilled long term disability insurance attorney is vital.
Frank N. Darras has dedicated his life to helping the sick and disabled. He is the founding partner of DarrasLaw, the largest disability and long-term care insurance litigation firm in the country. Recognized as America’s top disability attorney, Mr. Darras has been prominently featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Medical Economics, Smart Money, Chiropractic Economics, CNBC, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. If you are a dentist with any questions about your disability insurance policy, please do not hesitate to contact the firm.