Deciding how much leave to take after the birth of a child is part of pregnancy for working women. Benefits such as paid time off, maternity leave, and disability are a crucial part of the parental leave equation.
It is common for a combination of vacation time, company-paid parental leave, and short-term disability benefits to cover a six to twelve-week maternity leave.
While not as commonly known by expecting mothers, long-term disability can also play a role in reducing the costs of pregnancy and birth-related time off.
Is Long-Term Disability Right for Your Leave?
If you have long-term disability coverage through your employer or a private policy, it may cover benefits such as:
- Bed rest during pregnancy
- Maternity leave after childbirth
- Leave as a result of postpartum disorders
Pregnancy is not a disability for women in and of itself. That said, many complications and medical conditions can arise during or after pregnancy that can prevent you from performing your occupational duties.
About 20 percent of pregnant women experience complications and health concerns, such as:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia
- Gestational diabetes
- Uterine rupture
- Hyperemesis gravidarum
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Infections or sepsis
- Respiratory problems
In addition, if a woman already has medical conditions like epilepsy, asthma, or multiple sclerosis, pregnancy and childbirth can worsen or accelerate the condition and its effects.
If you experience significant effects of pregnancy complications or heightened effects of pre-existing conditions due to pregnancy, it might prevent you from performing the essential functions of your occupation.
Whether you qualify will depend on the terms of your policy, including:
- If you cannot perform the duties of your current occupation due to the medical condition (for “own occupation” policies)
- If you cannot perform the duties of any type of occupation due to the medical condition (for “any occupation” policies)
When you consult with an experienced disability insurance attorney, we can review your specific policy terms and determine whether your situation qualifies for coverage.
LTD for PostPartum Depression or Postpartum Psychosis
While having the “baby blues” and feeling a little down after giving birth is typical, some new mothers – and even fathers – can experience a more serious mental health condition, including postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis (which is rarer). These are not signs of weakness in a new mother, but instead diagnosable medical conditions with debilitating symptoms and effects.
The effects of postpartum depression are more intense than the “baby blues,” and they can last much longer. For many victims, the effects interfere with their abilities to provide proper care for the baby, as well as perform other basic everyday tasks, including the duties of their profession. These effects can prevent someone from timely returning to their previous occupation following childbirth.
Some common effects of postpartum depression include:
- Dramatic mood swings
- Chronic depressed mood
- Intense bouts of anger or irritability
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive crying and breakdowns
- Eating irregularities
- Sleep disturbances
- Overwhelming lack of energy or fatigue
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame, worthlessness, or guilt
- Irrational fears
- Lack of focus, concentration, or judgment
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby
These effects can persist for many months or even years, and it is very important for anyone feeling any symptoms to seek a proper diagnosis and treatment right away. Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition that has more severe and intense effects than postpartum depression.
Some effects of this devastating condition include:
- Delusions and hallucinations
- Disorientation and confusion
- Obsessiveness with the baby
- Agitation and intense/inappropriate energy at times
- Attempting to self-harm or harm the baby
Many people with postpartum psychosis can experience thoughts or behaviors that are life-threatening. It is critical to get immediate treatment if a new mother is experiencing any of these severe and dangerous symptoms.
While any new mother can develop either postpartum depression or psychosis, some risk factors include already having a history of mental disorders, postpartum depression from a previous birth, having a child with special needs or health issues, having multiple children, or experiencing breastfeeding challenges. Outside factors can also increase the chances of postpartum depression, such as having little support, relationship problems, financial problems, or not wanting the pregnancy to begin with.
If a woman does not seek timely treatment for postpartum depression, which is common, it can quickly develop into a chronic depressive disorder and increase her chances of experiencing major depression in the future.
Like many types of mental conditions, the symptoms and effects can be debilitating enough in some situations to qualify as a disability.
Filing Your Disability Claim for Pregnancy-Related Conditions
Many people experience challenges when seeking disability insurance benefits for pregnancy or childbirth-related conditions. The last thing you need to worry about at this time is your claim and communicating with insurance companies. Leave this process to our experienced long-term disability attorneys.
Reviewing Your Policy
Our first step in the process is to review your plan and policy documents. We look to see how your policy defines “disability” and whether your condition might qualify. We also look at any possible exclusions, limitations, or other conditions that might apply.
Having a full understanding of your policy terms and requirements can improve your chances of a successful claim for benefits, though the policy language can be complicated and confusing. Never hesitate to seek help with a policy review from a top-rated, national disability attorney.
Gather Necessary Evidence
Understand that you cannot simply tell your insurer that you are experiencing complications during pregnancy or after childbirth and expect to qualify. Instead, you need to present compelling subjective and objective medical evidence of your condition and its disabling effects. We can assist you in compiling sufficient supporting medical, occupational and financial documentation for your claim and presenting it to your insurer in the most persuasive manner possible.
Handling the Claim Process
While you take care of yourself and your new baby, let our award winning legal team prepare your long-term disability claim, file it with your insurer, and handle all the communications and negotiations. Remember that your insurance company will try to limit your benefits – or deny them altogether – whenever possible, so you want the right legal advocate handling this process for you and standing up for your rights.
Filing an Appeal When Necessary
Many disability claims receive a denial at first, but this is not the end of the road for you. The procedures for an appeal depend on whether you have an employer-sponsored group policy under ERISA or an individual policy, and we can follow the proper process to timely and comprehensively appeal your claim. Know there are strict deadlines that apply in either situation, so if you already received a denial, do not wait to contact our disability lawyers today. We help clients with a wide range of disabilities, including those relating to pregnancy or childbirth.
Know How Your Elimination Period Works
One potential drawback to using long-term disability benefits for maternity leave is the policy’s elimination period. This is the length of time you must wait before you can receive claim payments. Choosing a longer elimination period is a common way that consumers and employers keep long-term disability premiums affordable.
If your policy has an extended waiting period, you must prepare to go without income in the meantime.
Find out How DarrasLaw Can Help You
It won’t cost you anything to place your long-term disability claim on the right track.
Contact us anytime at (800) 458-4577 for a free consultation and policy analysis with DarrasLaw.
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