Your Source For Disability Information

Ataxia is a neurological condition that impairs the voluntary movements of the muscles, affecting the way a person walks, runs, bends over, stoops, grasps objects, or performs daily tasks. Often times, Ataxia sufferers are unable to work efficiently, making it difficult to earn an income. People who are unaffected by the condition are unaware of the extent of the disability, making it difficult on the Ataxia sufferer and the work environment in general. Insurance providers who carry Ataxia policies, often deny claims based on the fact that the condition is a subjective matter and difficult to measure the impact on your ability to work. Fortunately, Ataxia sufferers can obtain long term disability benefits to cover bills and other expenses.

Common side effects of the condition include:

  • Physical coordination – various areas of the body are affected, particularly walking
  • Balance – ability to undertake normal skills such as walking and stepping may be extremely difficult or impossible
  • Movement abilities – ability to walk,  move the limbs, extend or reach with the limbs, gesture
  • Speech – dysarthria – ability to form words and speak
  • Eye movements –  nystagmus, or ability look from left to right, up and down, etc.
  • Ability to bend down, stoop, grasp object – affects ability to pick up objects from the floor, tie shoes, etc.

Ataxia presents itself in two forms: hereditary and acute.

Hereditary Ataxia depends on the hereditary disorders of the cerebellum. Those with this form often experience a slow development of their symptoms over several years, with the underlying condition most commonly caused by issues with genes.

Acute Ataxia sufferers experience a sudden onset of symptoms, most commonly after significant trauma, injury or the development of another health condition such as a stroke or infection of the brain. Acute ataxia often times occurs due to radiation poisoning.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific treatment for ataxia, although doctors have been able to treat the underlying factors attributed to the condition. If you suffer from Ataxia and are unable to work, it may become difficult to pay for bills and related expenses. Ataxia disability attorneys, Burke, Harvey & Frankowski, LLC are seasoned LTD lawyers who will fight for the disability benefits that you are entitled to.

Video surveillance is a tool that insurance companies like The Hartford Financial Services sometimes use to review and validate disability claims in order to protect themselves from fraud. Although this can be a moral and useful tactic, The Hartford is facing numerous claims that they wrongfully terminated disability benefits based on surveillance video produced by private investigators.

It all started when Jack “Rocky” Whitten went on Good Morning America to share his story about how he was spied on while getting into a van, reading a magazine and while eating chips and salsa. He had “no difficulty dipping chips at a restaurant,” The Hartford said. The insurance company used this video surveillance as evidence that Whitten, who was on disability due to a broken neck, could return to work. Following the airing of the GMA segment Whitten’s benefits were reinstated, however it prompted dozens of other policyholders to come forward with their stories.

Policyholders find the correlations of their actions and the actions of their insurance companies to be bizarre and unwarranted. “I mean, they found the least little thing that makes no sense, I mean a chip weighs nothing,” Whitten’s wife, Leigh, said. Eric Neubarth, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, said that his benefits were cut off partially because he was filmed dong his laundry and eating lunch at a deli. Evan Werner severely injured his back in a car accident, and surveillance of him going to a doctor’s appointment and walking his dog was enough to convince The Hartford that he could perform sedentary work.

Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, defended The Hartford’s decisions to sever policies, claiming that surveillance is conducted to gather information, not to terminate claims. “My understanding is that the video is never used as a stand-alone tool for decision making. And what I can say is that claims can be appealed,” Pisano said.

Werner and many others have chosen to sue The Hartford, claiming that evidence gathered was absolutely insufficient and that their disability benefits were wrongfully terminated. Werner doesn’t understand why he was staked out after nine doctors told him that he was unable to work. Investigators waited outside his doctors office in order to film him in action. Werner’s lawyer, Mindy Chmielarz who is a partner for the DI Law Group, said “planning surveillance and setting up your investigator in the doctor’s office parking lot is dirty pool, you know you are going to get some type of activity, no matter how minimal it may be.”

The Hartford issued a statement in defense after the GMA piece aired, saying that they conduct surveillance in less than five percent of its long-term disability claims, and that in less than two percent of all of their cases investigated using surveillance are disability benefits terminated. Regardless of the amount of people this investigative surveillance affects, the question remains: Are The Hartford’s tactics fair?  Tell us what you think in the comments section.

What is ERISA? The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, otherwise known as ERISA, is a federal law that sets minimum standards for health care and retirement benefits for employees in the private sector. Although it does not require employers to provide any benefits, those who voluntarily do so must meet certain minimum standards.

ERISA thoroughly regulates minimum healthcare, retirement and other welfare benefit plans such as life and disability. ERISA also governs the management and transparency of these accounts. Since its deployment ERISA has been occasionally amended to protect workers in case of unexpected events such as job loss or those with preexisting medical conditions.

Although ERISA was originally constructed to protect employee benefits for group plan participants, this has not always come to fruition. While the majority of individuals are able to obtain long term disability benefits by filing a claim or a internal appeal, some policy holders may continue to be denied the benefits promised to them. A ERISA lawyer can assist you when you have exhausted all internal appeals and methods. Policy holders who are denied their benefits have the right to file a LTD appeal against the insurance company and have their case reviewed by a federal judge.

ERISA court trials differ from traditional trials in that there is no testimony from either party, only the materials in the case file will be reviewed. For this reason it is imperative that a experienced ERISA attorney handle and prepare your case. A lawyer who is thoroughly versed in all aspects of ERISA will be able to identify where it can apply to your case and increase your benefit payout. They will also commonly pay for the experts and doctors needed to prove the extent of your disabilities.

Many people are under the misconception that insurance companies work to help you. But as a for-profit company insurance companies employ their own lawyers to limit their obligation to you and minimize losses. Ensure that your benefits and retirement are protected by hiring a experienced ERISA attorney to handle your long term disability case.

Long Term Disability Law FirmWhat is the difference between long term disability and short term disability benefits?

Disability is considered by some experts to be the most important policy under the umbrella of insurance. When considering an injury or health condition that will take one away from their job, people become concerned with health insurance. However, health insurance only covers the medical portion of the tragedy. Disability insurance exists to protect and replace partial future wages in the event that one will become physically or mentally unable to work.

Short-term disability (STD) replaces a portion of an employee’s salary if a physician- documented injury or disability will prevent the policy owner from working. Most policies will cover 50% – 70% of wages. The policy generally begins after sick leave is exhausted and will go into effect for 10-26 weeks. Those who utilize STD will typically have injuries or conditions that are quickly treatable and have short recovery times, such as broken bones or simple surgical procedures.

Unlike STD, Long-term disability (LTD) does not go into effect until 90 days after the individual has been out of work, and in some cases 180 days depending on the insurance. Although it takes longer to kick in, LTD has a much longer lifespan than STD. Some will remain in effect until recovery or until the individual is able to learn a skill which will not be detrimental to their condition or any procedures that they had done. In fact, some plans will extend until the age of retirement. Similar to STD, LTD will usually cover between 50% and 70% of earnings, however some employers allow employees to purchase extra, which would allow the policy to cover 80% of wages.

If you have become injured or disabled, and are unable to work or complete normal daily routines, it may become difficult to pay bills and other expenses. Fortunately, the skilled long term disability lawyers at Burke, Harvey & Frankowski, LLC are ready to fight for the benefits you are entitled to. The LTD attorneys understand the importance of obtaining these benefits and work tirelessly to help disabled clients across the United States navigate through the sea of claims and appeals forms as efficiently as possible.