Cancer is one of the leading causes of workers going on long-term disability. Cancer in any form can be a frightening diagnosis, but the likelihood of your approval for long-term disability insurance will often rely on the seriousness of your symptoms, the type of cancer, and your body’s reaction to treatment. Thankfully, many cancer patients are able to lead full lives after treatment and can recover from their condition. But cancer and it’s treatment can take a serious toll on your body physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Treatments for cancer can be costly, which is why disability insurance is often so vital. It is not uncommon for individuals to be unable to work during treatment. This can be because of symptoms, doctor’s appointments, treatment time, and side effects of chemotherapy/radiation.
Cancer as a Long-Term Disability
There are a few main factors of your disability claim that will be important in building your claim. Firstly, what stage is your cancer in? Next, the severity of your symptoms. Then, how your treatment’s side effects debilitate you.
While it may be obvious to you why you can’t work during your treatment, it won’t be as apparent to the insurance company. Generally, a diagnosis alone will not be enough to convince the insurance company of your disability. They will need more data to provide a basis for your claim. This will often include details regarding symptoms and how they limit your ability to work.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, and are either unable or expect to be unable to work, you should begin filing for long-term disability. Your disability attorney will work with you and your loved ones to help you file. Working with an experienced disability attorney can help increase your chances of approval. Below, we will discuss some of the most important aspects of the process.
Disabling Symptoms of Cancer
Each cancer type has different symptoms, and the stage of your cancer can also affect the symptoms. For example, someone with pancreatic cancer will experience different symptoms and complications than someone living with skin cancer. However, there are some common symptoms that are common in a variety of cancers. Common symptoms of cancer often include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal bleeding and bruising
- Bowel movement issues
- Excessive weight loss
Cancer Symptoms and Stages
Cancer generally ranges from Stage 1 to Stage 4. Some cancers also have Stage 0, where the tumor is still situated in place and was caught early. In most cases, Stage 0 tumors can be removed. As cancer progresses or regresses, it can change stages. Symptoms may alter with these changes. Early-stage cancers are less likely to be approved by insurance companies.
Your Mental Health and Cancer Treatment
Let’s face it. Cancer is one of the worst words you can hear out of your doctor’s mouth. Even in the early stages, it can wreak havoc on your health and well-being. This includes your mental health. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are not uncommon among cancer patients and survivors. Additionally, some medications and treatments can have depression and anxiety as side effects. While fighting your illness, it can be easy to forget about your mental health. It can be helpful to talk with a mental health professional or visit a cancer support group if you have the ability to.
Side Effects of Treatments
Often, the treatments for your cancer can be just as debilitating as cancer itself. Chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer medications can have side effects that can really take a toll on your energy levels. Common side effects include fatigue, nausea, infection cognitive impairment, pain, fatigue, and dizziness. Even after treatments end, or in between phases of treatment, you may still feel the side effects.
Approval of Long-Term Disability Benefits for Cancer
Insurance companies generally require you to prove how your condition causes you to meet their standards for disability. And cancer is no exception. Because of this, you will need to provide evidence that you are unable to perform the duties of your occupation. Unfortunately, insurance companies can deny claims of those who are truly suffering from their debilitating conditions because they think you are still able to work. But cancer and its treatment can often be a one-two punch that severely limits your ability to get out of bed. Many cancer patients have a hard enough time making it to their treatment appointments, let alone working a 9 to 5. Because of this, it is vital that you submit sufficient evidence in your insurance claim. Your disability attorney can work with you to help produce a more convincing application.
Compiling Medical Evidence of Your Disability
The medical evidence of your cancer is the most important aspect of the claim process. This is because it holds the most weight to the insurance company. Generally, this will include diagnostic test results, such as biopsies and pathology reports. Any imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, can also provide objective medical evidence.
Physician’s statements and treatment notes can provide further evidence for your claim. Supportive doctors can make all the difference in securing benefits. These reports can outline your condition and how it affects your daily life. Discuss with your doctor how your condition limits your ability to work so that they can mention it in their narrative.
Additionally, you can provide lists of your medications, along with their side effects. This can help provide your insurance company with a more accurate representation of what you are facing as a result of your medications.
Personal Narrative of Your Disability
The medical evidence does a good job of providing how your body is affected by your condition. However, it doesn’t always paint the full picture. Because of this, it can be helpful to provide a personal narrative of how your cancer affects you. If you do not have the ability to write it, try your best to dictate your feelings to a loved one or your disability attorney to write up.
A personal narrative should reflect the toll that your illness takes on you physically, mentally, and emotionally. It should also reflect the tasks that are expected of you at your job, and how it is difficult or even impossible for you to perform them in your current condition. Consider listing each of your symptoms, and how each one affects your ability to perform at work.
Cancer can cause long-term disability in many ways. The illness, surgeries, chemo, and radiation treatments can all take a toll on you. Even after your cancer is treated, there may be long-term complications that can continue to disable you.
How Can A Disability Attorney Help Me?
An experienced disability attorney will work with you to help increase your chances of a favorable result for your claim. As you continue treatment, it may become harder to take care of all of the important aspects of your insurance claim. Thankfully, your disability attorney can help you and your family in your stead. Your attorney can compile documents, help you prepare and obtain statements, and more. They can also recommend that you go for further testing to help bolster your insurance claim, overall. These tests can be medical examinations or imaging. But they can also include tests that help provide objective evidence of how your condition affects your capacity for work. These tests include Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) and Neuropsychological Evaluation.
If your claim has been denied, your disability attorney can evaluate your first claim, and work to appeal the insurance company. Denials are often caused by errors in reporting, or not providing enough evidence to the insurance company. But your disability attorney can help you fight for a proper appeal.