Depression can impair a person to the extent that he or she can no longer perform at work. When job tasks become impossible because of symptoms of depression, it is appropriate to file a claim for benefits under the person’s long-term disability or LTD policy.
Nature of depression claims
Unfortunately, insurance companies are notorious for denying valid disability claims based on depression (or other mental illnesses) because the impairment is subjective. Because objective medical evidence like scans or lab tests do not prove the existence or severity of depression, an insurer can more easily deny that the condition exists or assert that it is not severe enough to prevent work activity.
In some cases, insurers may even deny its existence completely. For example, we recently wrote about cases like this where insurance companies rely on pictures on social media of claimants engaging in normal activities of life — or even just smiling or laughing — to assert that these claimants are not disabled by depression.
Seek legal advocacy
Anyone facing a LTD claim based on depression should consult an attorney as soon as possible at any stage of the claim. An experienced lawyer can help the claimant to develop and present credible medical evidence to support the claim. For example, the treating doctor and any treating mental health practitioners can submit statements in support of the claim.
If the claimant has not been treated by a mental health provider like a psychologist, psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional, regular treatment should be commenced, both for appropriate clinical support and to build a supporting medical record.
Even observations of nonmedical sources may be helpful. For example, depression can cause fatigue, lack of concentration, hopelessness, procrastination and other symptoms that seriously affect the ability to function both at home and at work. Family members, work colleagues or friends may be comfortable sharing their observations of behavior that support the existence of these symptoms.
If you face an uphill battle in your LTD claim based on depression or another mental illness, talk to an experienced lawyer. Do not delay so as not to miss any deadlines.