Almost six months into the coronavirus pandemic, and people who are working from home are finding themselves with health issues that didn’t seem important at first… until they realized that they were having trouble working. Most of these are orthopedic pain problems, which typically start out as a minor problem, but when left untreated, can lead to chronic joint pain difficulties, deficits and even disabilities.
Hunching over a laptop or tablet daily, without the benefit of a normal sized desk, sitting in a dining room chair that was designed for just a few hours’ use, or using an old monitor that isn’t high enough to be used at eye level and similar situations are leading to neck and back issues for many people. For others, making do with inappropriate furniture has exacerbated previous injuries to the point where sitting for extended periods of time becomes impossible. The lack of ergonomics in the home setting is causing a myriad of problems for the new “home” worker.
The disability claims for these types of injuries will be painful as well. Here’s why:
Pain is a subjective claim, with no true test to define or quantify, and disability insurance companies hate subjective claims. The claims adjuster managing a disability claim wants to see a report that objectively documents an inability to move a limb, or has impingement upon a nerve, or a blood test that reveals clear evidence of a disease. Severe pain, even when it is backed up by diagnostic testing, is always a red flag, if often not properly considered and needs additional supportive evidence for a successful claim.
The past six months have transformed the work place at warp speed, and anyone who can work from home is doing so. That means the disability insurance companies are faced with a new challenge – how to ascertain that a person is truly unable to work, and are they receiving medical care for their alleged disability? And medical care in this pandemic is another issue of concern as well.
If you are thinking about filing a disability claim because you are unable to work, even from home, you’ll need to be prepared to battle with the insurance company. Consider working with an experienced disability attorney to prepare your claim from the outset, to withstand scrutiny from the start and avoid a claim denial. If you have already received a denial of coverage letter, here are the important steps you will need to consider:
Read the denial letter and note any deadlines. These deadlines are NOT flexible – generally – although COVID has provided some extended timing relief for claimants.
Ask the insurance company for a copy of your claim file – “relevant documents” is the term of art to use (as that is what ERISA utilizes). The insurance company is required, under ERISA, to send it, but don’t be surprised if there are delays.
Start gathering medical records from all of your treating doctors. This may be a bit tricky, with medical offices coping with the impact of COVID-19, but the medical records are extremely important, especially with what the insurance company considers to be a subjective pain claim. But you will also need to work with the doctor to obtain a more detailed and comprehensive articulation of how and why you are impaired.
Act as if you are under surveillance. It’s so easy for the insurance companies to do this today. If you leave your home to go to a doctor’s appointment, make sure to note the date and time. Be mindful about what you post on social media. Anything that shows you performing normal activities will be considered as a reason to deny your claim, or to support their decision.
An even better step: call our office at 877-5893-2524. Our disability law practice has helped many people who are suffering from pain and can’t work, even from home. The call is free and the answers you’ll get will help you know what you are up against and how we can help.