Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a challenging and potentially embarrassing ailment for many sufferers. What’s worse, IBS can be debilitating, making it virtually impossible to stay at a desk or a job site for any length of time.
For sufferers of serious IBS, it is important to know whether you qualify for employer-provided disability benefits, and what the process looks like for obtaining these benefits, especially if your initial claim has been denied.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
According to Mayo Clinic, IBS is a serious illness that impacts the large intestine. With many possible causes that include intestinal muscle contractions, nervous system problems and severe infections, IBS can cause a variety of symptoms. Cramping, bloating and pain in the abdomen, frequent bowel movements, the feeling of never being finished with a bowel movement, changes in bowel appearance and other symptoms can be common symptoms of the syndrome.
It is important to note here that the symptoms of IBS can range widely from very mild on one hand, to extreme and debilitating on the other. This variety of symptom severity creates a significant challenge when it comes to long-term disability benefits.
Challenges in obtaining disability benefits for IBS
Here we are discussing long-term disability benefits from an employer-provided insurance plan, as covered by ERISA law, not the federal Social Security programs.
When seeking long-term disability benefits from your insurance carrier, there is a challenge establishing the severity of your symptoms. It is not uncommon for an IBS sufferer to have mild symptoms for some time before the symptoms become debilitating.
People who have been diagnosed with IBS but are able to work for an extended period of time sometimes later face the challenge of establishing the disability to the insurance company. Whether on the initial claim application or the appeal of a denied disability claim, the insurance carrier will likely ask the question: If you have had this illness for a long time, why is it now a disability?
This question is critical to answer.
Although it is obvious to us that the symptoms that were once mild have progressed to a level of severity that renders them to now be disabling. You need to establish, definitively and with strong medical backing, that your symptoms have progressed in severity to the point that they are now debilitating.
Working with an experienced attorney is a valuable asset when seeking long-term disability benefits. The stakes are high to make sure you have the help you need to establish your disability and obtain the benefits you need. We have experience in helping clients that have had their long term disability benefits denied or terminated due to progressive illnesses, such as IBS, that don’t necessarily start out as disabling, but in time become severe enough that you can no longer work.