Bipolar Disorder, a brain based disorder, causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, as well as the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks (National Institute of Mental Health). Bipolar Disorder is a serious illness that affects about 5.7 million adult Americans (about 2.6%) every year. Kantor & Kantor has experienced a number of clients who suffer with Bipolar Disorder, and such clients are often affected in a way that is life altering and debilitating. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for these clients to face many obstacles and complications when making a claim for long term disability benefits (LTD) based upon their Bipolar Disorder.
Why are these LTD claims so difficult?
The first issue is difficulty in proving that you are disabled (under the terms of your long term disability policy’s definition of disabled.) While you and your doctor both know that you are no longer able to work, meeting a policy definition of disability takes more than just that knowledge. Unlike a spine condition or an autoimmune disease, which can be shown through objective measures, objectively establishing that you have disabling Bipolar Disorder can be tricky. Typically, the diagnosis is made by a therapeutic psychologist. The condition is then treated medically by a prescribing psychologist, as well as through therapy with a clinical psychologist. Thus, there really is no lab test or other objective measure to prove you have the condition. Your treating providers’ diagnoses, based on their examination and treatment of you, is the objective proof – but you must have their help in getting that information to your LTD carrier.
This brings us to the second issue: getting your treating providers to help you establish not only that you suffer from Bipolar Disorder, but that is it disabling you from work. Many psychologists and psychiatrists are extremely cautious –and understandably so — about disclosing mental health records and impressions. You can explain to them that if they do not want to turn over all of their office visit records, it would be acceptable for them to write a narrative letter explaining your diagnosis and treatment. But, one of the most important things for your doctor to explain is how or why your Bipolar Disorder restricts or limits you from performing the duties of your occupation.
Lastly, because people who suffer from Bipolar Disorder are often initially misdiagnosed, and because the condition can have periods of depression, it’s possible for your LTD policy’s limitation on mental and nervous conditions to be triggered. This can mean severely limiting the period of time for which benefits would be payable to you. If you suspect you may be a victim of an insurance company misunderstanding, or worse, mischaracterization, contact a lawyer . . . most should be willing to talk to you initially at no charge to get you headed in the right direction.
Kantor & Kantor can offer you help with your long term disability claim should you become disabled by Bipolar Disorder, or any other disease, for that matter. We can help you gather the appropriate evidence of disability, and help you obtain the support of your treating providers.
If you have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and the symptoms (and side effects of the medications to treat it) become disabling, please do not hesitate to contact Kantor & Kantor for a no-cost consultation at (800) 446-7529.
We understand, and we can help.