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Parkinson’s Disease - Claiming Disability Benefits

Posted on 9th February, 2022

by Legal Staff

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to gradually degenerate and die and affects cognitive and motor functions.

There are currently over one million people struggling with Parkinson's in the USA, a number predicted to rise in the following decade up to 1.2 million.

It is vital to consult more than one specialist and make sure that you receive the proper diagnosis, because as soon as Parkinson's disease becomes undeniable, you may want to be prepared and learn more about the types of claims that can help you recover the financial security needed to cover medical costs and other expenses:

  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • VA Disability Compensation
  • Paraquat Exposure Claims

Long-Term Disability Insurance

If you are unable to work due to a covered disability, long-term disability (LTD) insurance replaces all or a part of your income. There are several ways that LTD insurance can be purchased, and applying for benefits can be a complex process to navigate:

  • On an individual basis - when LTD insurance is purchased through an agent or directly from the insurance company, premiums are paid for coverage on a regular basis. Checking accounts for evidence of these payments is a fundamental step in determining whether you have a valid policy. You can request a copy from the insurance company or agent.
  • Received through the employer - group disability insurance coverage is earned as an employment benefit. To verify if you have this type of LTD insurance, you can check the pay stub, which may report monthly premium payments. You can also request from your employer a copy of the Summary Plan Description (SPD), which includes standard information regarding your coverage, or any other related documentation.

In some cases, you might have both individual and group disability insurance coverage or LTD benefits from retirement or pension plans.

The policy typically requires several specific requirements to be met in order to be able to claim benefits, as well as the fulfillment of the provided definition of disability, usually stating your inability to perform the duties of your own occupation or any occupation due to sickness or injury. There can also be benefits for partial disability in some LTD policies. You will have to carefully examine your policy for any other important requirements. Once eligibility is determined, the benefits usually start:

  • individual coverage - 60-180 days after the date of disability
  • group coverage - 180 days after the date of disability

The symptoms of Parkinson's can make it extremely difficult or even impossible for someone to perform regular activities; however, just the Parkinson's diagnosis alone is insufficient for obtaining long-term disability benefits. It needs to be supported by further medical evidence, and proof of related treatment thoroughly checked through an investigation from the insurance company.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a government disability benefits program, is administered by the Social Security Administration. Its provisions are complex, like with any insurance benefits. SSDI coverage refers only to total disability and does not include partial or short-term disability.

Social Security Disability Insurance does not apply to everyone, as it requires you to have worked in a job covered by Social Security, with enough work credits accumulated. People with Parkinson's disease often encounter difficulties collecting benefits since Social Security does not consider them disabled if they can carry out any gainful occupation or work part-time.

Further fundamental SSDI information:

  • Social Security pays benefits to people who can't work due to a "medically determinable physical or mental impairment" expected to last at least one year or result in death.
  • Once eligibility is established, there is usually a five-month waiting period to receive benefits.
  • Social Security mails Social Security Statements yearly to people aged 60 or higher, including estimates of future retirement and disability benefits.
  • After Social Security disability benefits are earned for 24 months, you may be eligible for Medicare.

SSDI benefits may not be awarded solely based on a Parkinson's disease diagnosis, which is why it is essential to provide medical evidence that the symptoms are severe and prevent you from working, as well as adherence to prescribed medication for at least three consecutive months.

VA Disability Compensation

Veterans with Parkinson's linked to their active duty military service may be entitled to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation benefits, which are monthly and tax-free. Eligibility for VA disability benefits is determined by:

  • Having served in the military and subsequently suffered from any of the following: sickness, injury, or exposure to environmental toxins, or developed a mental health condition.
  • A connection between the disability you may have developed even years after your service and your active service (that your condition is service-connected).
  • Discharge conditions that were under other than dishonorable (honorable, general, under honorable conditions).

In case of a Parkinson's diagnosis, the Department of Veterans Affairs has two perspectives related to service connection:

  • Presumptive service - an exception from the usual requirements for service connection, the VA can create an automatic presumption for toxic exposures affecting large veterans groups; more specifically, military members who served during a certain time and place and were exposed to toxic substances do not need to provide a link between exposure and Parkinson's disease. This applies to veterans who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971, or at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days from August 1953 until December 1987. The only necessary documents will be proof of your service in these respective locations and evidence of your Parkinson's diagnosis.
  • Service connection without a presumption - veterans who did not serve at the aforementioned locations may still be eligible but required to submit additional proof of exposure and link to the current Parkinson's diagnosis. Some situations in which veterans may qualify for non-presumptive service connection for Parkinson's include exposure to herbicide agents, burn pits, or in-service Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Paraquat Exposure Claims

Exposure to paraquat can result in Parkinson's disease over the years, and your diagnosis and proof of exposure can make you eligible for filing a paraquat claim. Assessing your eligibility is a complex and tedious procedure, requiring essential information, such as:

  • the timing of your exposure to paraquat
  • the duration of paraquat exposure
  • the circumstances of your exposure to the toxic herbicide
  • the moment of receiving the Parkinson's diagnosis
  • the severity of paraquat exposure
  • the medical expenses incurred

Following paraquat claim submission, you may recover from the liable manufacturers the compensation you deserve for your suffering. Due to the toxicity of this herbicide, everyone who directly worked with or was constantly around paraquat is at risk of developing Parkinson's disease, including:

Quality Assistance for People Suffering from Parkinson's Disease

The team of experts at Atraxia Law has over three decades of experience in evaluating personal injury and product liability claims and is fully prepared to help you file a claim with the liable companies if you were exposed to paraquat and developed Parkinson's disease as a result.

The work we conduct represents a crucial step in the legal process. We will adequately evaluate your situation, gather all the necessary evidence, and inform you whether you are eligible to further file a paraquat claim. We strongly encourage you to contact us for any additional information, and we will gladly answer all your questions.

While many medications can relieve the symptoms, none can reverse the effects. As the disease progresses, people with Parkinson's who are still employed may struggle with performing their regular activities and often have to reduce their working hours or retire. They may also lose out on benefits, not knowing where to turn or how to navigate the welfare system.

Parkinson's disease is often misdiagnosed due to symptoms mimicking those of similar disorders:

It is vital to consult more than one specialist and make sure that you receive the proper diagnosis, because as soon as Parkinson's disease becomes undeniable, you may want to be prepared and learn more about the types of claims that can help you recover the financial security needed to cover medical costs and other expenses.