If you suffer from degenerative disc disease disability and can no longer work, chances are you have filed for disability benefits through a long-term disability insurance policy. In most cases, it is likely your initial claim was denied. The reality is, insurance companies often do not play fairly. Government disability programs, no matter how well-intended, miss the mark in approving thousands of legitimate disability claims for degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a common condition of aging. The spinal discs are soft, supple discs that act as the spine’s shock absorbers, enabling us to bend and twist. In aging adults, discs slowly dry out, become thinner, and lose strength and elasticity. Cracks in the outer layers of the discs may also occur. Heavy lifting and vigorous physical work can contribute to this process. The onset of disc degeneration may also be caused by sudden injury.
Disc degeneration can play a role in an assortment of spinal disorders including osteoarthritis, herniated disc, bulging disc and spinal stenosis. In severe cases with constant pain, surgery may be needed to repair the discs.
The Significance of Medical Evidence in DJD or DDD Cases
Interpretations of imaging studies (where a doctor reads an x-ray film and gives an opinion as to its meaning) are extremely important, since x-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs are the only purely objective evidence that will come into play in a disability case involving back problems. In other words, while a physician can easily diagnose degenerative disc disease based on a patient’s symptoms, without the imaging studies, there will be no way to prove the extent to which the condition exists. For this reason, disability claimants should always follow through on appointments for x-rays and the like.
Additionally, disability examiners look for certain other indications in the notes recorded by a claimant’s treating physician, regarding decreased range of motion, reduced muscular strength (doctors use a five-point scale; for example, 5/5 right leg strength indicates full right leg strength while 1/5 indicates severely diminished right leg strength), poor gait, and positive straight leg raises. Obviously, just as crucial as it is in a disc disease case to have the necessary imaging studies performed, it is also crucial to be followed closely by a physician, particularly an orthopedist.
Getting regular medical treatment from a medical doctor (M.D.) or osteopath (D.O.) can help ensure that you have sufficient medical records to substantiate your disability claim for a degenerative back condition.
Long Term Disability (LTD) Insurance Claims for Degenerative Disc Disease
Many LTD insurance carriers are known for wrongly denying valid claims and delaying payments. You may have disability benefits through your employer, or you may have bought a private disability insurance policy.
Either way, if the insurance company denies your claim, you have the right to appeal their decision and fight back for the benefits that you are entitled to receive.
To overturn long term disability insurance denials, representation by an attorney with specific experience in disability insurance law is essential to success. You should not sign anything from the insurance carrier without first consulting with our disability attorneys at no cost.
We will evaluate whether the insurance company has acted fairly under the terms of the policy. If they have not, we will take prompt actions to perfect your claim so we can represent you aggressively in negotiations for settlement and when necessary, litigation.
Contact Us Today
If you are disabled from a degenerative spinal disc condition and your disability claim has been turned down, we can help. Call Mehr, Fairbanks & Peterson Toll-Free at 800-249-3731, or contact us online for a free initial consultation.