PTSD & Disability Benefits - Are you Eligible?

Content warning: This article contains mentions of trauma, including domestic violence.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

There is a common misconception around PTSD that only the most severe circumstances can cause lasting symptoms of the disorder.

PTSD is a disorder that came from the symptoms previously known as “shell shock”. It was commonly related to war veterans or others affected by similar atrocities. Upon returning to life after the war, many men (and women) showed unnerving symptoms.

We have had many clients who suffer from PTSD, which is now recognized as being able to affect anyone who experiences or witnesses a traumatic, often life-threatening event.

Physical symptoms of PTSD include:

  • breathing problems
  • headaches
  • body aches
  • panic attacks
  • insomnia

Emotional symptoms of PTSD include:

  • experiencing flashbacks
  • emotional numbness or untamed emotional arousal
  • difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • irritable behaviour

Despite its sometimes severe physical symptoms, PTSD is classified as an invisible disability - one that cannot be seen on the surface or diagnosed with objective medical testing. Many insurance companies will try to challenge the rights of somewhere with PTSD to a disability claim.

For many people, treating PTSD is a constant and ongoing battle, so it is important to know your rights regarding the matter, especially when dealing with insurance companies.

A former client's experience with PTSD and being denied by the insurance company

We want to share with you a story from a former client, Mia. (All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all involved.) Mia W. was a successful employment recruiter and loving mother of two young boys. At 37 years old, she was vibrant and in perfect health. Being a single mother had its challenges, but Mia was grateful to be divorced from her abusive ex-husband and to have a fresh start in life.

Mia was up for an impressive promotion at work. It was right after a promising meeting with her boss that Mia’s life took an unfortunate turn. She had just left the office and was walking through the company parking lot toward her car when she was attacked.

Physical assault leads to PTSD

The attacker assaulted Mia so violently that she was unconscious when a colleague found her and called 911. Her injuries were so severe that she could not recognize herself in the mirror. The person she had been able to recognize, however, was her attacker. It was her ex-husband.

Symptoms impede her ability to work

Mia pressed charges against her ex-husband. She was released from the hospital and her physical injuries eventually healed. Unfortunately, no matter how hard she tried to put the assault behind her, she couldn’t. At night, she had recurring nightmares and during the day, she experienced debilitating flashbacks. The anxiety was so incapacitating that she had to take sick leave from work. Her employer encouraged Mia to apply for short-term disability benefits. Mia prepared a claim with her psychiatrist’s help and it was approved.

The criminal proceedings against her ex-husband were painful and drawn out. Mia really wanted to get back to work and put the past behind her, but neither the case, nor her flashbacks, would allow her to move on.

Insurance company claims insufficient medical evidence

When Mia’s short-term disability ran out, she applied for long-term disability. This time, the insurance company denied her claim. Although her psychiatrist had filled out the attending physician’s statement and written a letter stating that Mia was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the attack, they did not think that the evidence sufficiently proved that she was totally disabled from performing the essential duties of her occupation.

With her psychiatrist’s help, Mia appealed the decision. Each time, she was denied. After three appeals and eight months without income, Mia’s savings—and her hope—were depleted.

How Share Lawyers helped

Mia’s psychiatrist referred her to the disability lawyers at Share Lawyers. While she was wary of hiring a lawyer, Mia felt she had exhausted all her options.

Upon meeting the disability lawyers, she wondered what had taken her so long to seek legal counsel. David Share and his associates were compassionate, patient, and understanding. Most importantly, they had extensive experience helping clients with PTSD and had proven success fighting these types of claims.

Throughout the handling of her case, Mia felt informed and empowered by the law firm's team. They were truly experts in their field and handled the insurance company’s aggressive tactics strategically and with the utmost professionalism. As they built her case, no detail was left out.

When mediation day arrived, Mia was nervous but knew she was in good hands. Steven Muller put forth a strong case in her favour and negotiated with determination while maintaining compassion for her fragile emotional state.

She was very satisfied with the way Share Lawyers settled her case and with the substantial settlement amount they secured for her. Having the finances to care for her family was one less thing to worry about as she continued with treatment for her condition.

Ask a disability lawyer about PTSD

Our disability lawyers frequently get questions from Canadians who are managing symptoms of PTSD and don't know what to do. Regardless of where you are in the disability benefits process, we can help. Here are some recently questions that we've received, and the answers.

Q: I was involved in a car accident last year and have been diagnosed with PTSD as a result. The flashbacks have made it impossible for me to do my job, but I have heard that it’s difficult to get approved for long term disability. Is this true?

A: PTSD falls into the broad category of conditions that are sometimes described as invisible disabilities. They are “invisible” because objective medical testing does not provide proof of the illness, symptoms, or disabling condition. An X-ray, CT Scan, MRI or other medical testing generally will not provide any explanation for the symptoms you may be suffering with as part of the PTSD diagnosis. As claims for long term disability are generally scrutinized extensively, being approved may well be difficult. If you have strong medical support and your claim is denied you should not hesitate to contact an experienced disability lawyer to assess your chances of proceeding with your claim and successfully getting the benefits you deserve.

Q: I have post-traumatic stress disorder as the result of serving in Afghanistan, but my insurance company seems to think that I have been misdiagnosed. The company has cited “insufficient medical evidence” as the reason for denying my long term disability claim. On top of that my psychologist refuses to write any more reports. I’m now at a loss - is it time to hire a lawyer?

When an insurance company says that there is “insufficient medical evidence”, you have the option to appeal by providing more medical evidence, or consulting a lawyer to discuss your rights and possible remedies. If your doctors have provided all the medical information that is available, then appealing will not achieve anything except cause delays. You should contact an experienced disability lawyer to help you fight for the benefits you are entitled to receive.


A note from our long term disability lawyers

Taking a medical leave from work is not an easy decision to make. Concerns about providing for yourself and your family and keeping your job may cause you to want to push through your pain, but this won’t make your problems go away. Stopping work is often the smartest decision for your long term health and well-being, and your disability benefits are there to provide you with financial support until you can return to work.

If you have made the tough decision to stop working and apply for your short term disability or long term disability benefits, you may feel overwhelmed by the process and have questions that your employer and your insurance company are not able or willing to answer. Share is There to see you through and answer your questions.

Our disability law firm knows what you have been going through

We understand that things have not been easy for you over the last little while. Your health has been suffering, you are unable to work, and now your insurance company, who was supposed to be there in your time of need, has decided they will not pay your disability benefits or respect your disability claim. These benefits exist to provide you with the financial support you need so that you can focus on your health and rebuilding your life. It is unfortunate that your insurance company has not lived up to its promise. If your disability claim has been denied, we will fight to get you the benefits you are entitled to. Our disability lawyers have helped thousands of Canadians get their long term disability benefits over the past 35 years, and we can help you too.

Our experienced disability lawyers can fight back on your behalf

Share Lawyers believes that every client who is dealing with a disability claim deserves superior personal service. To achieve that goal, we have developed our team of experienced, compassionate, and caring long term disability lawyers, law clerks, and administrative staff to meet all of your needs. Our team of experienced long term disability, life insurance, employment, and critical illness insurance lawyers have made successful claims against many insurance companies, third-party administrators and employers.

If you are unable to work, your disability benefits should be there to provide you with the financial support you need. While your insurance company may be focused on finding ways to avoid paying your claim, our focus is on what is in your best interest. When Share Lawyers gets involved, you have an entire team of lawyers that are there to support you and to fight for what is yours.

Our disability claim lawyers fight for your disability insurance claim by relying on our many years of experience to apply the best strategic planning and approach in each case, using the latest technology available. Experience matters, and with Share Lawyers, you are in the best hands with 35 years of success on your side.

In this video, we explain the role of a long term disability lawyer and how we can support you when you have been denied your long term disability benefits.

Denied your long term disability claim?

Contact Share Lawyers today and put our experience to work for you. Our 35+ years of experience can help you win your case against Canada Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and other insurance companies. We offer a free consultation and there are no fees unless you win your case. Join us on Facebook and become a Top Fan for a chance to win each month.

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