Unfortunately bipolar disorder is often wrongly understood by insurance companies. Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings between depression and mania, may affect up to 2% of Canadian adults and increases the risk of suicide and disability. Bipolar disorder refers to a group of affective disorders that a person experiences episodically. Typically people with bipolar disorder experience episodes of dark depression which is characterized by terribly low moods, irritability, anxiety, and decreased energy – and episodes of mania, characterized by a inflated or irritable mood, increased energy, the reduced need for sleep and hypomania.
In the past, our clients have described to us that the bipolar episodes of mania is almost like when a person’s brain goes “off-line” and they engage in risky behaviour, rapid speech, hyper sexuality, they’re flooded with flights of ideas and confidence, they are easily distracted, they talk a lot, they speak loudly or with pressurized speech and have an overall feeling of grander. They are, in short, our of control.
Our clients have described their bipolar episodes of mania like a brain that goes “off-line”
-Matt Lalande, Disability and Personal Injury Attorney
If you suffer from bipolar disorder and you have been denied or cut-off your long-term disability benefits it’s important to understand that this is not the end of the road. Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers represent claimants at all stages of long-term disability benefits, from initial denial to trial representation. Our lawyers have litigated against every major disability insurance company in Canada – and if you’ve been denied your long-term disability benefits, you are under the care of your doctor and you following an appropriate treatment plan, our lawyers can help get your monthly income benefits back on track.
What insurance companies often don’t understand is that there are various different types of bipolar disorders. Often times the condition is not properly understood by disability adjusters and many people that suffer the condition are thought of as all the same. Bipolar disorder actually refers to a group of affective disorders, which together, are characterized by depression and mania or hypomanic episodes. The DSM-IV contains four main subtypes of bipolar disorders:
Often times insurance companies simply believe that a person suffers from recurrent depression (also called recurrent unipolar depression – for depressive episodes that are recurrent) and not bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder type II, in particular, spend much of their lives in a depressed state – or much more time in depressive states then the manic episodes or hypomanic states, which makes bipolar disorder difficult to understand. Most of the time, people with bipolar type II disorder typically seek treatment for depression, and not the manic episodes – making bipolar disorder often misdiagnosed as unipolar depression.
This is a difficult question answer. From a legal perspective the answer is on a case by case basis. Typically most long-term disability policies require that you satisfy the definition of total disability. Total disability is typically defined in two ways. For the first two years after the onset of your bipolar disorder diagnosis, you must be unable to complete the substantial duties or requirements of your own occupation.
After 24 months, the definition of total disability changes. This is called the “change of definition” or “COD” as it’s typically been referred to by insurance your adjuster. After 24 months, you must suffer a total disability that prevents you from engaging in any occupation for which you are reasonably qualified in relation to your education training and experience.
If you have reached a point where, despite medication and ongoing medical treatment, you are unable to sustain proper and consistent mood regulation, then you will more likely than not be entitled to long-term disability benefits. Mood regulation is complex and very difficult to understand, from a medical and non-medical personnel. If, despite medication and ongoing treatment, you are unable to respond flexibly, then it may be a very real possibility that you may not be employable. It’s important to understand that bipolar disorder, depending on the diagnosed affective disorder, varies inconsistently from person to person. While some people with bipolar disorder improve over time, many have residual dysfunction and recurrent episodes which cause such a low depression and marked mood swings that it causes significant personal distress, occupational and social dysfunction.
In short, everyone is different. While some people could manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder type I and type II with proper medication to some regularity, other people suffer very significant impairment of cognitive performance across various domains of functions – despite proper clinical treatment. For some people, bipolar disorder causes brutal psycho-social impairments that affect all facets of life, including the ability to maintain any type of work, especially with intermittent symptoms of agitation, aggression
Our disability lawyers also understand that for many people that suffer from serious symptoms of bipolar disorder, the medications can cause serious side effects, such as cognitive problems, dulling impaired memory, poor concentration, mental slowness, confusion, lethargy, sedation, impaired coordination and a whole host of other problems that would no doubt impair a person’s ability to sustain any type of regular and gainful employment.
Our lawyers understand that bipolar disorder is a chronic and severe mental disorder that can causes substantial disruption in a person’s life, often effecting marriage, children, social life and occupation. If you are unable to work and you have been cut-off or denied your long-term disability don’t give up hope. Our long-term disability lawyers understand that for many people, the recurrent episodes of depression and/or mania and inter-episodic mood symptoms can no doubt interfere with a person’s work function.
If you been denied or cut-off your disability, call our long-term disability lawyers today at 905-333-8888. We would be happy to speak to you at no cost and without obligation. Since 2003, our lawyers have helped claimants at all stages of disability. We are based in Hamilton and have served claimants province-wide. We are happy to have an initial consultation with you by telephone and answer all of your questions.