Chronic Conditions are the Root of Most Long Term Disability CasesMost Long Term Disability Insurance cases are the result of chronic conditions, rather than accidents or injuries. In our experience representing clients in Long Term Disability Insurance cases, very few disabilities are caused by injuries resulting from an accident. Most of our clients have chronic conditions that become disabling over time. A few examples include Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Pulmonary Lung Disease like COPD, cardiomyopathy, orthostatic hypertension, POTS syndrome, and ataxia.Chronic conditions do not always result in disability, but many chronic illnesses eventually prevent one from working, performing normal daily tasks and socializing. And many chronic illnesses can take a long time to formally diagnose.
Those with chronic illness are disabled, yet it is not static. Some days they can work, while others they cannot. There is no way to predict when they will be healthy or sick.
This ‘ever changing’ form of disability poses problems within the system. Once a person has obtained disability benefits, they are unable to work at all. If they decide to exhaust the nine month trial period of work and continue to perform ‘substantial gainful employment’, they lose their benefits. For those with chronic illness it is not this cut and dry. They may be able to work easily for months or years, only to be struck with symptoms of their illness and be bedridden for weeks. While there is a 36-month extension period that allows them to obtain benefits when they need to, three years can come and go, leaving them without benefits after the extension period.
The system does not have any specific guidelines that cater to those with ever-changing chronic illness. The best those with chronic illness can do is apply for benefits and not work, which leaves them with a very small income. Hopefully this will change in the future.