In the final instalment of this mini-series, Ottawa personal injury lawyer Najma Rashid discusses what people with invisible injuries can do to strengthen their LTD claims.
Seeking medical help and following a treatment plan are the keys to a successful long-term disability (LTD) claim involving so-called “invisible” medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety and other conditions that cannot be identifiable by medical imaging, Ottawa personal injury lawyer Najma Rashid tells AdvocateDaily.com.
During almost two decades of experience advising clients in LTD matters, Rashid, partner with Howard Yegendorf & Associates, has seen a gradual change in attitudes to less visible and sometimes controversial conditions, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, workplace stress, and various mental health conditions, both among medical professionals, and in society at large.
“I think the medical community has accepted that these are legitimate and “real” medical conditions, even if they don’t show up on X-rays or MRIs,” she says. “Even family physicians now provide counselling to patients with mental health-related disabilities.”
Still, as Rashid discussed in part one of this series, insurers retain a healthy dose of skepticism regarding LTD claims with an “invisible disability” component to them, due to the reliance on self-reported symptoms for their diagnoses. But that shouldn’t stop claimants from taking steps to report their problems to a doctor, she adds.
“In basic terms, LTD policies generally contain clauses requiring policyholders to seek appropriate treatment and follow their physicians’ instructions, as a condition of receiving and continuing to receive benefits,” she says.
Clients generally don’t approach her before their LTD claim has been denied, but one of Rashid’s first steps when consulted is to explain to the insured their responsibilities under the policy.
“These claims are based on medical evidence, and I can help them to identify where the gaps in evidence might be,” she says. “Whether you have chronic pain, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, or another condition, you can’t expect the insurance company to reinstate benefits or take responsibility until you’re under the care of an appropriate health-care professional.”