Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is chronic, progressive disease of the central nervous system. Despite the obviously serious nature of Multiple Sclerosis and the profound impact it may have on a person’s life, obtaining long term disability benefits can be an uphill battle.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with MS, learn how to present the strongest long term disability claim possible.
Understanding the Symptoms of MS
Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease in which the flow of information within the brain and from the brain to the body is disrupted. This disruption may cause a variety of debilitating symptoms, including:
- Loss of balance, dizziness, lack of coordination
- Muscle spasms
- Numbness or weakness
- Difficulty concentrating and other cognitive difficulties
- Difficulty speaking
- Vision disorders
Symptoms are Progressive, but Episodic
Because the progress of Multiple Sclerosis varies from individual to individual and may be very slow, many people with MS can work for years after their diagnosis. Moreover, Multiple Sclerosis is episodic in nature. Early on, symptoms may ebb and flow – disappearing altogether for a period of time, and then flaring up severely for a period of time. Accordingly, the insurance company will require strong medical evidence to support your claim that the disease has progressed to the point that you are no longer able to work.
What You Can Do To Improve Your Chances of Winning
Take care of your health. This is your first priority. See your doctor regularly; keep all follow-up appointments; comply with your doctor’s instructions.
Report all symptoms to your doctor. Be honest and forthcoming. Don’t exaggerate or minimize your symptoms.
Keep a symptom diary. Make regular, frequent and detailed entries, noting how you are feeling and the nature of your symptoms that day. This “bad news” diary can be powerful evidence of the impact of your symptoms over an extended period of time.
Draft a detailed job description. One effective way to do this is to create an itemized list of the tasks you perform daily, along with other tasks that you perform less frequently, but which are still part of your job requirements. Then, under each item, jot down how your symptoms impact your ability to perform that particular task. As with a symptom diary, the more specific you can be, the better.
What An Attorney Can Do To Improve Your Chances of Winning
- Ensure your medical record is complete. The initial application and appeals process is your one and only chance to present evidence in support of your claim. If your claim goes to court, the judge will review only what is already in the record. Therefore, we will make sure your medical record includes a full medical history, a detailed history of your MS, all treatment notes, medical test results, and doctor reports.
- Work with your doctors to prepare a compelling narrative report describing your condition and symptoms.
- Guard against insurance company abuses. For example, the insurance company will want to see your doctor’s treatment notes. These are the progress notes the doctor makes contemporaneously with an examination. Rather than consider the whole of the notes, however, the insurance company will focus on the few words or phrases that serve its purpose, e.g., “patient is feeling better,” or “pain diminishing,” or “renewed energy.” The insurance company will try to use your doctor’s treatment notes against you, focusing on your “good” days and largely ignoring your flare-ups. We can combat the insurer’s misuse of treatment notes by (a) going through the notes with a fine-toothed comb to highlight all the references that speak to the extent of your disability; and (b) working with your doctor to prepare a separate report explaining how he uses treatment notes and addressing any notation the insurance company has misinterpreted.
- Bring your paperwork to life. We are experienced disability insurance attorneys. We know how to package your application or appeal so that it presents your disability story in a way that is personal, vivid and compelling.
- Keep your claim on track by filing a timely application or appeal.
- File a comprehensive appeal. If your claim has been denied, we will make sure every point in your denial letter is addressed in your appeal.
Contact New York Disability Lawyers
If you have questions about applying for your long-term disability claim, or if your claim for benefits has been denied, call us. Let’s schedule a consultation, at a time that works for you, so we can review your claim and explain your rights. Call 212-297-0700 today.