The answer is yes.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative nervous system condition where a part of the brain deteriorates, causing more severe symptoms over time. While this condition is best known for how it affects muscle control, balance, and movement, it can also cause a wide range of other effects on a person’s senses, thinking ability, and mental health.
While no two people experience Parkinson’s disease the same way, there are common signs and symptoms. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, the most common early signs of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Uncontrollable shaking or tremors
- Small handwriting
- Loss of smell
- Trouble walking or moving
- Trouble sleeping
- Soft or low voice
- Dizziness of fainting
- Impaired posture, causing stooping or hunching over
- Masked face, such as a continuously serious, depressed or mad expression
Parkinson’s disease can take years or even decades to cause severe effects. While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, it is treatable. To help determine how far the disease has progressed, the Movement Disorder Society-Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS) is used by healthcare providers to classify the disease.
The MDS-UPDRS examines four different areas of how Parkinson’s disease affects someone:
- Part 1: Non-motor aspects of experiences of daily living. This section deals with non-motor (non-movement) symptoms like dementia, depression, anxiety and other mental ability- and mental health-related issues. It also asks questions about pain, constipation, incontinence, fatigue, etc.
- Part 2: Motor aspects of experiences of daily living. This section covers the effects on movement-related tasks and abilities. It includes your ability to speak, eat, chew and swallow, dress and bathe yourself if you have tremors and more.
- Part 3: Motor examination. A healthcare provider uses this section to determine the movement-related effects of Parkinson’s disease. The criteria measure effects based on how you speak, facial expressions, stiffness and rigidity, walking gait and speed, balance, movement speed, tremors, etc.
- Part 4: Motor complications. This section involves a provider determining how much of an impact the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are affecting your life. That includes both the amount of time you have certain symptoms each day, and whether those symptoms affect how you spend your time.
If you have group disability insurance coverage as part of an employee benefits plan, or an individual disability policy that your purchased as protection against loss of income, and you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, you may be entitled to long-term disability benefits.
To receive long-term disability benefits, you need to meet your plan or policy’s definition of disability. This generally requires that, due to sickness or injury, you are now unable to perform the duties of your own occupation or another occupation.
Regardless of your policy’s definition of disability, your Parkinson’s disease diagnosis alone is probably not enough to win your claim. Many people with Parkinson’s disease can work for a long time after receiving a diagnosis.
If you are filing a claim with your long-term disability insurance company, it is important that you provide medical evidence that your Parkinson’s disease symptoms are so severe that they prevent you from working. Even if you are still working and not ready to make a claim, be sure that your doctors are documenting your symptoms in your medical records.
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, every 6 minutes, someone will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the United States. #Take6forPD #Together4PD #ParkinsonsAwareness
If you or someone you know is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, or any other illness, and you are being denied benefits by your insurer, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation or use our online contact form. We understand, and we can help.