Meniere’s Disease & Long-Term Disability Insurance
According to the latest statistics from the Hearing Health Foundation, Meniere’s disease currently affects between 600,000 and 750,000 people in the United States, with over 45,000 new diagnoses of the condition each year.
Depending on the nature of your work and the severity of your symptoms, Meniere’s disease can qualify as a disability for the purposes of individually purchased or employer-sponsored group long-term disability insurance. However, proving your claim to your insurer can often be challenging, which is why the assistance of a top-class long-term disability lawyer is crucial.
What Is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is an illness affecting the inner ear in one or both ears. While most cases of the condition affect just one ear, it can sometimes progress to the second ear after arising in the first. Meniere’s disease can be severely debilitating, potentially causing major issues with communication and mobility.
Vertigo (a feeling that you are spinning, or that your surroundings are) is the most serious symptom of Meniere’s disease in most people who have the condition. A vertigo attack can last for anything from a few minutes to 24 hours. Other common symptoms include:
- Hearing loss
- A sense of pressure or discomfort in one or both ears
- Loss of balance
There is no known cure for Meniere’s disease. However, there are certain lifestyle adjustments experts recommend to manage the symptoms of the illness, such as a reduction in the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, or salt. It may also be a good idea to limit stress and fatigue, as these can trigger flare-ups.
Doctors diagnose Meniere’s disease with physical exams and other tests, and will also ask you questions about your condition. They will inquire, for example, how you feel when you suffer an attack, how long these episodes last, and whether there are any noticeable triggers for your attacks. The tests your doctor may order include:
- Hearing tests, specifically those that focus on the relationship between the inner ear and the brain,
- An eye movement test called an electronystagmogram (ENG), which helps to determine the cause of vertigo,
- An MRI or CT scan, either of which may highlight any brain damage that may be causing your symptoms,
- A Dix-Hallpike test, which looks for any potential relationship between head movement and vertigo.
Experts aren’t yet sure why people develop Meniere’s disease. However, one prevalent theory proposes that it may be caused by issues with fluid in the inner ear. Other possible causes include autoimmune disorders, head injuries, allergic reactions, viral infections, and family history of the condition. It’s possible that a combination of these factors may lead Meniere’s disease to develop.
Meniere’s disease most commonly arises in individuals between the ages of 20 and 50 years old, with the majority of cases existing in those over the age of 40. There is no major difference between the sexes in terms of the prevalence of the condition.
Meniere’s Disease & Long-Term Disability Insurance
In order for you to be successful in your short- or long-term disability insurance claim arising from Meniere’s disease, you will need to visit your physician. They will have to confirm that your condition is sufficiently debilitating to qualify as a disability, as defined in your policy.
There are two main categories when it comes to the definition of disability in employer-sponsored or individually purchased long-term disability insurance policies. These are “own occupation” and “any occupation.” “Own occupation” definitions treat you as disabled once you cannot carry out the essential duties associated with the occupation you had directly before the onset of your claim. “Any occupation” definitions, which are cheaper and more prevalent in group ERISA disability policies, treat you as disabled once your condition prevents you from doing any occupation for which you are trained, educated, or suited.
Meniere’s disease can affect job performance in a variety of ways. Severe vertigo can limit your ability to work to an extent that makes it impossible to occupy almost any type of profession. However, even mild cases can prevent you from carrying out certain types of occupations, such as physical labor, driving to work, or work involving the application of fine motor skills or hearing.
You will need to exhaust the elimination or waiting period on your policy to elapse before you start receiving monthly disability benefits. These periods vary widely; shorter elimination periods add to the cost of premiums. Employer-sponsored ERISA long-term disability policies usually have elimination periods of 180 days, and individual policies as short as 30 days.
Meniere’s Disease & Your Long-Term Disability Insurance Attorney
If you find yourself unable to work because of sickness or injury, you need to ensure that your income stays protected. Your disability insurance company will try to exploit any loophole or ambiguity it can to delay or wrongfully deny your monthly benefits claim for Meniere’s disease or any other disabling condition. With the help of an experienced, successful long-term disability insurance attorney, you can avoid this fate.
Contact DarrasLaw today to schedule a free initial consultation or policy analysis with one of our Massachusetts ERISA attorneys. If you’ve already submitted a claim on an employer-sponsored ERISA disability policy and your insurer has rejected it, you need to act quickly to ensure you file a comprehensive, timely administrative appeal before the applicable deadline.