Can I File a Disability Claim for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain condition that leads to challenges with movement, mental health, sleep, discomfort, and various other health concerns.  A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be life-changing. Parkinson’s usually begins gradually and worsens over time. It is episodic and unpredictable. Symptoms are both obvious and hidden, and many are often underdiagnosed.

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It is clear that PD progresses over time. While there is no known cure, therapies and medications can alleviate symptoms. Common indications include shaking, painful muscle contractions, and difficulty communicating. PD often results in significant disability and the necessity for caregiving. Additionally, many individuals with PD may experience cognitive decline.

As PD often advances into stages of disability and loss of independence, Parkinson’s disease forces many people to stop working. When this is your situation, you may be eligible for vital disability benefits for Parkinson’s disease, through the Social Security Administration (SSA), from private insurers (either through a group LTD (ERISA) policy, or private individual coverage), or from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

While this disorder typically manifests in older adults, it can also affect younger individuals, with men being more frequently affected than women. The exact cause of PD remains elusive, though a family history of the condition may elevate the risk. Exposure to certain environmental factors such as air pollution, pesticides, and solvents might also increase susceptibility.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease tend to worsen with time, significantly impacting well-being and overall quality of life. While medications may help to mitigate some symptoms, resistance to medications builds up, making them less beneficial, or requiring higher dosages to achieve relief.  

Motor symptoms include:

  • Sluggish movement
  • Tremors
  • Involuntary movements
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Lack of balance/instability

Non-motor symptoms may include:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Mental health issues
  • Dementia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Discomfort
  • Sensory abnormalities

Involuntary movements (dyskinesias) and painful muscle contractions (dystonia) can hinder speech and mobility, leading to heightened disability and caregiving requirements. Additionally, dementia may develop in many individuals with PD as the condition progresses.

While PD is the most prevalent movement disorder, other similar conditions exist, such as Multiple System Atrophy, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Chorea, Ataxia, and Dystonia. Some of these disorders share symptoms with PD, such as tremors, sluggish movement, and stiffness. 

Many claimants will be involved in occupations where the physical manifestations of the illness will cause impairment.  Surgeons, dentists, and other occupations requiring fine motor skills may be significantly impacted by tremors and unable to safely perform their work.

Others will have difficulty writing or typing or using a computer, while others will be unable to walk or stand for any duration. The duties of your occupation will guide the analysis of how Parkinson’s Disease impacts your ability to work.  

Assessment and Disease Burden

PD is primarily diagnosed clinically, with neurologists and trained non-specialist healthcare providers capable of making the diagnosis. In regions where specialist neurological services are scarce, it is particularly crucial for primary care providers to be adept in assessing and managing PD.

The prevalence of PD has doubled over the past 25 years, with global estimates in 2019 indicating over 8.5 million individuals affected. Current estimates suggest that in 2019, PD resulted in 5.8 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), an 81% increase since 2000, and caused 329,000 deaths, over a 100% increase since 2000.

Treatment and Care

While there is no definitive cure for Parkinson’s disease, therapies such as medications, surgeries, and rehabilitation can help alleviate symptoms.

Levodopa/carbidopa, a medication combination that boosts dopamine levels in the brain, is commonly prescribed for PD. Other medications, such as anticholinergics, may be utilized to minimize involuntary muscle movements.

Deep brain stimulation is a treatment where electrodes are placed deep into the brain and deliver electrical impulses and signals to specific brain cells.  It can help manage tremors and decrease reliance on medications.  There are risks with this treatment (DBS) including surgical complications and device complications or malfunctions, requiring further interventions, and headaches or other manifestations. 

Rehabilitation, including physiotherapy, or occupational therapy can provide treatment and partial relief for PD and other degenerative neurological conditions. Rehabilitation methods may encompass:

  • Strength training
  • Gait and balance exercises
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Occupational and speech therapy
  • Stretching

These interventions can enhance functioning and quality of life for individuals with PD, thereby reducing the burden on caregivers.   

Impact on Families and Caregivers

Informal caregivers, typically family members and friends, dedicate numerous hours daily to providing care for individuals with PD, often experiencing overwhelming stress. This places significant physical, emotional, and financial strain on families and caregivers, necessitating support from healthcare, social, financial, and legal systems. 

Why Would Someone With PD Need a Long Term Disability Insurance Lawyer?  

On its face, one would not expect to have a challenge when a PD condition arises and a claim is needed.  Many of these claims can be managed – and when handled with counsel from the outset, can help to ensure a smooth transition from working to claim approval.

Some policies carry limited benefit periods for claims based on mental health, in whole or in part.  Often, disability insurance companies will seek to focus on the secondary depression issues one might suffer when PD hits, to limit benefits under policy terms.   We have had success in overcoming limited benefit period application efforts with these claims and know how to structure our claims from the outset.

Will I Be Able to Prove My PD is Impairing to My Long-Term Disability Insurance Company?

There are proactive steps you can take to support your long-term disability claim. You need to provide strong support, through medical records and other information to demonstrate that you have functional limitations which impact your ability to perform the tasks of your occupation.  For more than two decades, Jason Newfield has helped clients with preparing claims or appeals, advocating for claims, making life easier for claimants, guiding the process, and by providing the insurance company the necessary information to support impairment and have the insurance company accept disability.  

Often, insurance company representatives share that our advanced preparation of materials helped to streamline the process for approval of a claim.  We have seen your issues before and can help guide the process and be your advocate.

Let us Guide You. 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, policy terms and medical issues will be discussed, and a strategy developed.  Jason Newfield is honest and straightforward with claimants, recognizing the need for clarity with compassion. We invite you to call today and learn more.   Learn more about other client experiences through reviewing GOOGLE reviews

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