This article supplements the article 'Long Term Disability Income Insurance, Financial Protection for You & Your Family.'

 

Keep in mind that the family members of a person with bipolar can become seriously ill, also, because of the increased exertion and stress to keep the family functional and avoid the ramifications of illness resulting from bipolar behavior. The information in this article applies to all people with disabling conditions.

Most employers provide short-term and long-term disability (LTD) plans at varying amounts of costs. Some have an elimination period (minimum number of days with no coverage, typically 90 calendar days), yet some have specific medical requirements before they will pay. Some employers will pay for the elimination period with either standard sick leave or vacation time. Short-term disability (STD) coverage usually spans the entire elimination period required for the long-term plan.

Long-term care (LTC) plans will provide services whether a person is on STD or LTD because they assess the ability of the person to perform daily activities for him/her self. This usually includes, but is not limited to, washing your own hair, making meals, grooming one's facial hair, walking unassisted, bathing, dressing, bending, or eating independently.

LTC plans typically provide benefits regardless of the cause of the disability. A person with temporary limitations who is recovering from a car accident can qualify just as easily as a permanently disabled person. A medical service provider assesses a patient's abilities through questionnaires and an in-home visit.

However, if you are having a 'good day' when the evaluation is given, they may initially attempt to deny you benefits. Remain persistent. Wait for the LTC case manager to obtain the medical records from your doctor(s) for a detailed evaluation and overall picture of the situation. Your doctor's notes can turn the tide in your favor.

To ensure your doctor documents what you believe is important, consider carrying a notebook in which you write your symptoms, vital signs, and notations outlining whether each day is 'good' or 'bad'. Take the book with you to each doctor's visit, and write any changes in treatment instructions in the same notebook. The better prepared you are, the better the doctor can document your limitations and progress. Sometimes this is easier said than done, depending on the disability, so consider having a second person with you at all medical appointments specifically to write notes in your notebook.

If you qualify for and initiate a Social Security Disability claim, your employer's disability insurer may have attorneys on retainer who specialize in Social Security and Disability claims. Although this can be helpful, you still retain your right to obtain your own counsel elsewhere.

Cautions:

  • Employers may require you to use your vacation time as the elimination period before your STD benefits begin.
  • Not all caregiver providers have experience performing assessments. Do not permit them to restrict your answers to the choices listed on their papers, and ensure the information accurately reflects the information you want to get across.
  • Any delay in obtaining benefits will be encountered with the LTD and LTC processes, not the STD process. They both require the same authorizations and doctor's records for their independent evaluations, assessments, and approvals. To expedite the process, keep in close contact with your case manager(s). If they know you call weekly and become familiar with your case, they will sometimes request the information earlier in their own processes.
  • If you question an attorney's knowledge or specialization in Social Security or Disability claims, contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) at 1-800-431-2804 (Eastern Time), or take a look at their website www.nosscr.org.