Will My Long-Term Disability Insurance Pay Benefits for Cushing Syndrome?

If you have been diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome and can no longer work, you may be considering filing a claim for long term disability insurance benefits through your group policy from work or from your private or individual disability policy. Whether or not you will receive an approval depends on a number of factors, including what information is contained in your application, the type of care you are currently receiving and how severe your condition is.

Disability attorney Jason Newfield has represented many Cushing’s Syndrome sufferers who were unable to pursue their careers because of their disease and who were denied long term disability insurance benefits, for a variety of reasons. If your claim was denied, please call our disability office at 877-406-7883 to learn how we may help.

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WHAT IS CUSHING’S SYNDROME?

Cushing’ syndrome involves persistently high levels of a hormone called cortisol. There are two different causes: when someone takes glucocorticoid medicines or when the body makes too much cortisol.

Exogenous Cushing Syndrome is caused by the use of drugs that increase blood cortisol levels. The most common cause of Exogenous Cushing Syndrome is oral steroids, which are often prescribed for conditions such as asthma, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis.  This is a result of treatment for other underlying medical problems.

Endogenous Cushing syndrome results from excessive production of cortisol within the body, referred to as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Approximately 60% to 70% of patients with this syndrome have a benign tumor in a specific part of the brain (the pituitary gland) that causes excess production of cortisol. There are also instances where a tumor is making too much ACT in an organ that usually doesn’t produce ACTH. This is known as Ectopic ACTH production, often caused by tumors in the lungs, pancreas, thyroid gland, or thymus gland. 

Although the exact number of people with Cushing syndrome is unknown, it is diagnosed in approximately 2 to 8 per 1 million people annually, typically between ages 30 and 49 years. It is likely undiagnosed in many more.

COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CUSHING SYNDROME

Patients with Cushing syndrome commonly develop a round face, muscle weakness, bruise easily, have purple stretch marks on their abdomen, and fat pads on the upper back.

Other common signs and symptoms of Cushing syndrome include weight gain, menstrual irregularities, depression, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive hair growth, and sleep disorders.  Since some of these issues overlap with other conditions, it is often difficult to pinpoint.

HOW IS CUSHING SYNDROME DIAGNOSED?

After confirming that exogenous steroids have not been used, clinicians diagnose Cushing syndrome by measuring cortisol in the urine or saliva or by checking morning cortisol levels after patients take a nighttime synthetic steroid pill. Patients typically need to undergo several tests to confirm the diagnosis of Cushing syndrome. Additional blood sampling techniques and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pituitary or adrenal gland can help determine the source of excess cortisol.

It is important to make the diagnosis correctly to address the increased risks facing patients with Cushing syndrome. Patients are at increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, bone fractures, blood clots, and infections and have a higher overall mortality than individuals without Cushing syndrome.

HOW IS CUSHING SYNDROME TREATED?

Surgery is the first-line treatment for tumors causing Cushing syndrome. Although pituitary surgery is the most commonly performed operation, surgical techniques vary depending on the type, size, and location of the tumor.

If surgery is not feasible or effective, patients with Cushing syndrome are often treated with medication, such as osilodrostat, levoketoconazole, or mifepristone, steroid type medications which the FDA has approved for this condition. Other commonly used drugs are ketoconazole, metyrapone, and etomidate.  

Patients who are not fully cured after surgery may also be treated with radiation therapy, which has a 90+% success rate among those with pituitary gland tumors. Often, patients return to better health, to some level, but this is not often the case. When the cure is not complete and symptoms make it too difficult to maintain a normal level of activity, the patient has to consider filing for long term disability insurance benefits.

Symptoms of Cushing Syndrome

  • Weight gain in the trunk, paired with thin arms and legs.
  • Weight gain in the face
  • Wounds that heal very slowly 
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Difficulty controlling emotions.
  • High blood pressure
  • Frequent infections
  • Skin color changes
  • Bone loss, which can lead to frequent broken bones.
  • In pediatric cases, slowed or stunted growth.

 

PATIENT OUTCOMES AFTER TREATMENT FOR CUSHING SYNDROME

After surgical treatment, cortisol levels drop below normal, so patients need treatment with hydrocortisone. In most cases, cortisol levels return to normal anywhere from seven months to two and a half years after surgery, depending on the location of the tumor. Approximately one-third of patients who undergo pituitary surgery for Cushing syndrome develop recurrence of this condition after their operation.

HOW ARE CLAIMANTS DISABLED FROM CUSHING SYNDROME?

People who are diagnosed with Cushing’s disease or a pituitary adenoma can experience challenges in the workplace and aren’t able to perform the tasks of their occupations. There is a stigma attached to Cushing’s disease, because while you may not appear to be sick, you and your doctor know that you are physically impaired by this disease.

Many symptoms aren’t visible and the emotional symptoms of the disease may not be considered part of the disease itself. This can be extremely taxing, adding to the many burdens presented by Cushing syndrome.

There are steps you can take to support your long-term disability claim if you are disabled from Cushing syndrome and the manifestations of the condition.  The Newfield Law Group helps clients with preparing claims or appeals by making life easier for claimants, by guiding the process, and by providing the insurance company the necessary information to support impairment and have the insurance company accept disability.  

LET US GUIDE YOU IN THE PROCESS.   CALL OUR OFFICE TODAY AT 877-406-7883

When you call Newfield Law Group, you will speak with an attorney who has more than two decades of experience in this highly focused area of the law.  During your consultation, he will be able to provide insight as to the process of pursuing a claim for long term disability insurance benefits, and what you are up against in the process.   Jason Newfield is honest and straightforward with claimants, recognizing the need for clarity with compassion. We invite you to call today and learn more.  

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