There’s no doubt that people who suffer from psychiatric conditions have a hard time maintaining regular gainful employment. All too often in Ontario people that suffer psychiatric conditions try their best to make it through school and into some type of career, only to find that their condition becomes too unbearable and leaving them unable to work and turning to their long term disability policies for protection.
As Hamilton’s long-term disability lawyers, Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers have represented numerous long term disability claimants that have been unable to work as a result of psychiatric disorders and other mental illness conditions. Disability lawyer Matt Lalande has an expansive understanding of the significant restrictions and limitations that a person suffering with psychiatric disorder must live with on a daily basis. We have worked closely with top medical experts in order to sufficiently satisfy a disability carrier’s threshold of evidence necessary to prove that a client is totally disabled by a psychiatric condition. If you or your loved one has been denied or cut-off long-term disability it’s important that you speak to an experienced disability that can help get your long-term disability benefits back on track.
This means that your disability benefits have been denied or cut-off.
Generally speaking, claim liability, whether through an employment group policy or an individual long-term disability policy, means that you as a claimant must suffer a “total disability” in order to be entitled to long-term disability benefits. Total disability in the context of disability insurance does not mean that you must be completely helpless and incapable of any activity. Rather, total disability has been established by our Courts to mean (within the context of most policies) that an insured is incapable of engaging in all or at least some of the important duties of his or her job.
Most long-term disability insurance policies issued through work provide two definitions of “total disability”. Within the first two years after the onset of disability, total disability is established when you are incapable of doing the important duties of your job, even though that you could perform another occupation.
After 24 months of long-term disability, there is typically what is referred to as a “change in definition”. Most, if not all policy definitions change from an your “own occupation” to “any occupation.” The change of definition typically means that you, as a disabled claimant are unable to engage in any occupation or perform any type of work for compensation or profit – or – unable to perform the activities of any occupation for which he or she is reasonably suited by reason of education, training and experience.
If you can do minor, trivial or inconsequential work, for which you are overqualified, then that you will more likely than not still be deemed totally disabled.
Psychiatric illness claims can be very difficult and challenging to navigate for claimants, employers and disability carriers. The disorders most commonly experienced by our clients that we have helped in the past are:
Anxiety / Panic Disorders – while everyone feels anxiety at one time or another, there are some people that suffer from severe and brutal anxiety reactions that have adverse and permanent effects on their lives and their ability to work. Extreme anxiety from a psychiatric perspective may result in impaired concentration, the inability to sleep, consistent physical agitation, tremors, medication dependency and problems learning and retaining work-related information. It is not common for employees that suffer major anxiety and panic to apply for long-term disability benefits.
Major Depression and Bipolar Disorders – often times Major Depression and bipolar disorder, either type I or type II go hand-in-hand. They are common psychiatric disorders that, if severe enough, terribly affected persons mood and well-being. The mood disorder might be a manic depressive type disorder, or a person might suffer major depression without suffering from bipolar disorder, which in itself can be chronically severe and life-threatening. In these types of situations people are often able to work toward their long-term disability carrier for protection.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders – often involved obsessive or intrusive irrational impulses that are repeated in a person’s mind. Often times people with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder have trouble getting through the day because of repetitive rituals that interfere with his or her life. Rituals such as severe germ phobic conditions, obsessive tapping, washing, counting, hoarding, rearranging, repeating and redoing work can interfere with an employee’s ability to perform his or her job. There is a large body of scientific evidence that has proven that obsessive-compulsive disorder results from chemical imbalances which require medication-and also subtle structural differences in a person’s brain. If the disorders last more than an hour each day most medical professionals will find that obsessive-compulsive disorder is a problem.
Personality Disorders – personality disorders often go hand-in-hand with depression or bipolar conditions. Typically, claimants with personality disorders have a long-standing pattern of maladaptive behavior, particularly with relationships – either with other people or their employer. Some examples of personality disorders are borderline personality disorder, histrionic disorder, avoidant personality disorder etc. etc.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorders – PTSD can be considered a psychological disorder however many people who go through traumatic situations, such as a near-death experience for the terrible accident, and up having difficulty adjusting in coping. Some people get better, and some people don’t. PTSD is typically divided into four groups-intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. PTSD can have a severe effect on a person’s ability to work, particularly on a regular schedule – hence turning to their term disability benefits.
Substance Abuse brought on by a Psychiatric Disorder – often times people with psychiatric disorders turn to alcohol and drugs, which further impairs the ability to work and disrupts the ability to function properly in society. Normally disability policies have exclusions for alcohol, opioid or other drug abuse…however, substance abuse is often brought on by something bigger, such as a psychological or psychiatric disorder. In most cases this catalyst, or something that starts the abuse.
Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder – schizophrenia or schizoaffective bipolar disorder are normally caused by severe biochemical disruption in a person’s brain. Often times schizophrenia manifests itself early on in life, however, schizoaffective disorder can appear well into a person’s 30s and early 40s. Employees that suffer from schizophrenia or schizoaffective bipolar disorder often suffer from both problems maintaining a job, and from being undeservingly stigmatized, once other people are aware of the condition. In many cases, schizophrenia brings about paranoid conditions are paranoid delusions. This, along with the stigmatization, often renders a person unable to cope with being in a workplace around other people. Schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder is not caused by weakness, cancer traumatic events, bad parenting etc. – schizophrenia is a very serious psychiatric condition that has a biological basis. If you suffer the onset of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type one or two, it’s important that you speak to a disability lawyer about your condition and protection from your disability insurance company.
Unfortunately, many employees that suffer from psychiatric disability also often suffer from the stigma associated with their disorder, which can be harder to deal with than the illness itself. Our society has unfortunately, more often than not, judge individuals who have psychiatric disabilities, either face-to-face or behind closed doors. For an employee suffering paranoid delusions, taking medication and trying to get through work day. For others, the stigmatization of psychiatric disability keeps them in a closet. In other words, stigma prevents employees from seeking appropriate assistance for treatment. Unfortunately, psychiatric disabilities often cause people to exhibit out of the norm behaviour which causes a lack of understanding by coworkers. Employees that suffer from psychiatric disabilities negative stigma may be reluctant to disclose their disability until there behaviour exhibits itself in such acceptable matters, that often leads to termination.
Psychiatric disabilities no doubt cover a wide range of conditions that are often not properly understood by coworkers and employers. Also, psychiatric conditions are often not understood by long-term disability adjusters. If you or a loved one suffers from a psychiatric disability have been denied long term disability benefits, call us for more information. We are happy to discuss your condition and your long-term disability benefit denial with you. We will do our best to offer options and guidance on how to navigate complex litigation, and hopefully get your long-term disability benefits back on track. It’s important that you simply don’t give up the fight if your paid premiums for long-term disability benefits. There may be hope for recovery and financial protection for you and your family. Call us at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form and one of our lawyers will get back to you within 24 hours.