At our law firm, we often represent claimants seeking long-term disability benefits under their disability insurance policies after sustaining orthopedic injuries or diseases that prevent them from performing the tasks of their jobs These kinds of impairments require comprehensive medical evaluation and detailed documentation so insurance claim examiners have all the medical evidence they need to accurately assess disability and to prepare a file should an appeal be needed. Claim examiners are required to use this medical evidence to determine carefully the extent and nature of orthopedic injuries or illnesses, as well as resulting symptoms and functional limitations. Many of our cases center on the insurance company or their third-party administrator’s failure to review the complete medical information. In many cases, the insurance company selects a limited amount of materials for the claims adjuster to review. Role of vocational expert Because of the potential complexity of orthopedic conditions, an occupational specialist may be brought into a disability insurance claim to analyze the full extent of functional limitations caused by the medical condition. Depending on the terms of the policy, the vocational expert may need to decide if the claimant could perform the tasks required in the claimant’s job in light of his or her functional limitations. Some policies may also require an analysis of whether the claimant could perform other available jobs, as well. That depends on whether or not the policy contains “Any occupation” or “Own occupation” provisions. What is orthopedics? The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons or AAOC sheds light on the field of orthopedics and the kinds of medical problems treated. Orthopedics encompasses the broad area of musculoskeletal conditions. According to AAOC, orthopedic surgeons are “devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, disorders and diseases of the body’s musculoskeletal system … include[ing] bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons.” Orthopedic problems may include:
Orthopedic treatments AAOC says that there are both surgical and nonsurgical treatments for orthopedic impairments and conditions. Nonsurgical treatments may include “medications, exercise and other rehabilitative or alternative therapies.” Orthopedic conditions often affect the spine and joints like the knee, hip, shoulder and others. An orthopedic surgeon may recommend any of a wide range of surgical procedures, including:
Impact on LTD claims Orthopedic injury and disease can cause serious movement and motor restrictions, pain, weakness and mobility impairment. Recovery from surgical treatment can last weeks or months, depending on the procedure and patient. It is crucially important to a long-term disability insurance claim that the unique injury and the impacts of treatment, medication side effects and surgical intervention carefully considered in light of the patient’s ability to perform or sustain work activity. If you have suffered an orthopedic injury and cannot work, contact our office before filing a disability claim to ensure that your rights are protected. Call us at 888-583-4959.
Justin C. Frankel is committed to fighting for the rights of clients when their long term disability insurance claims have been denied, delayed or terminated.