A chiropractor is the last person you'd expect to be unable to work because of a long term disability claim. While the cornerstone of many chiropractic practices is the manipulation commonly associated with chiropractic, at the core of chiropractic is a holistic approach to well-being. But just like other medical professionals, the treatment that they provide often leads to injuries that can make it impossible to practice.

Chiropractors use their own strength to treat patients. Treatment tables are set at a height that enables patients, even when they are in pain, to easily lie down for a spinal manipulation. However, that very same height can present a problem for a chiropractor. Bending awkwardly while repeatedly exerting high levels of pressure in a controlled move can easily lead to a shoulder, neck or back injury- very likely the exact same thing that the chiropractor is treating.

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Frankel & Newfield has represented many chiropractors in long term disability insurance matters and have published articles in professional journals, including Chiropractic Economics and American Chiropractic Association News that draw on our experience representing chiropractors with long term disability insurance matters. All of the articles discuss the particular challenges facing chiropractors when it comes to filing a claim for disability benefits.

One of the issues that we see often with chiropractors is a tendency to consider disability insurance claim paperwork to equate to their patients' health insurance claim paperwork. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Disability insurance claims forms present a veritable minefield of problems for any claimant. Underestimating the significance of this material is a big mistake for a claimant seeking to pursue disability insurance benefits.

Another issue facing chiropractors emerges when practice records are requested to evaluate the claim. Because chiropractic treatment is not always covered by insurance, some chiropractors do not use the same diagnostic codes that are central to billing and financial evaluations for most medical offices. Often times, the evaluation of a chiropractor's production leads to claim challenges.

Chiropractors often provide treatments and sell products that are part of the practice but that the insurance company may not consider part of their chiropractic income stream. For instance, a flourishing business around the sale of nutritional supplements may not seem as if it should be affected by the chiropractor's inability to perform spinal manipulation treatments. However, if the chiropractor is not seeing and treating patients, it is likely that they will not have the same opportunities to speak with patients about the supplements. The long term disability insurance company may not see it that way.

If the chiropractor's practice includes the services of a massage therapist, acupuncturist or aromatherapist, the insurance company may question the income that these individuals contribute to the overall financial structure of the practice and deem the chiropractor a business manager and not solely a medical professional. This is often called a "dual occupation" position that the insurance company may attempt to consider.

And since it is more than likely that the insurance company will not consider the services of a chiropractor as a treating physician in a disability claim, the insurance company will be highly skeptical about any care provided by chiropractors, massage therapists, etc.

While it may seem like the insurance companies are targeting the chiropractor in an effort to deny or terminate a claim, it should be kept in mind that long term disability insurance companies are reluctant to pay any claims, for any individual, regardless of their profession or trade.

Jason A. Newfield

Written By:

Jason A. Newfield

Disability Insurance Attorney