Ontario LTD Lawyers Advocating for Clients With Invisible Disabilities

Mulqueen Disability Law understands the complex nature of invisible disabilities, including mental health issues and chronic conditions. We know that our clients are not choosing to be disabled. Going without an income while searching for answers and effective treatment is not a choice. If our clients could be working, they would be. We believe them, even if their insurance companies do not.

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

Proving LTD claims for invisible disabilities is our law firm’s primary focus and reason for being. These claims are complicated and difficult to prove. Our clients are extremely vulnerable medically, financially, and emotionally. We understand the unique challenges of helping people who are struggling with these conditions.

Invisible disabilities can impact a person’s daily life and may require accommodations in certain situations. However, because they are not visible, they may be misunderstood or overlooked by doctors, friends, family and insurance companies.

The Mulqueen Disability Law team knows what evidence and what arguments are going to be most persuasive. We even know which negotiation strategies will be most effective with which insurance company. That’s powerful knowledge when it comes to proving an invisible disability.

What are invisible disabilities?

The term invisible disabilities refers to disabilities or conditions that are not easy to diagnose or visible to others. These disabilities may include:

  • Chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Post-COVID conditions (Long COVID).
  • Mental illness and mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other conditions that affect mood, behaviour, and cognitive functioning.
  • Neurological conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis (MS), epilepsy, or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Chronic illnesses, including diabetes, lupus, Lyme disease, Crohn’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Other impairments, including concussion, hearing loss, tinnitus, or visual impairments that do not result in complete blindness.

Invisible Disabilities can impact a person’s daily life and may require accommodations in certain situations, but because they are not visible, they may be misunderstood or overlooked by doctors, friends, family and Insurance Companies.

Mulqueen Disability Law knows how to prove invisible disabilities.

Proving invisible disabilities can be challenging, as they are not always apparent or visible to others. However, there are several ways that a person can provide evidence of their condition, including:

  • Medical records: Medical records, including doctor’s notes, test results, and treatment plans, can provide evidence of a person’s disability and the impact it has on their life. Your doctor should attach this information to the Attending Physician’s Statement when you apply for LTD.
  • Diagnostic testing: Diagnostic testing such as MRIs, EEGs, and other tests can provide objective evidence of a person’s condition. Your family doctor should have these reports and can attach them, as well.
  • Psychological evaluations: For conditions such as ADHD, depression, or anxiety, a psychological evaluation can provide evidence of a person’s condition. You can ask your family doctor for a referral for this or any other type of assessment.
  • Accommodation history: A person’s history of accommodations in the workplace, school, or other settings can be used to demonstrate the impact of their disability. Any evidence that you were struggling to do your job before you stopped working, will be helpful.
  • Personal subjective reporting: A person’s own reporting about their experience with their disability and symptoms can provide valuable evidence of its impact on their daily life. This includes details of your activities on both “bad days” and “good days”. You can explain that a “good day” now is not the same as it was before you became disabled.

We suggest clients start with these suggestions if they are at the application stage of their claim. If their claim is denied or terminated, they should contact Mulqueen Disability Law immediately so we can take swift action to preserve their rights and pursue their claim on their behalf.

Why are LTD claims for invisible disabilities denied?

There are several reasons why long-term disability claims for invisible disabilities may be denied. Some common grounds for denial include:

Disability claims require medical evidence to prove the existence and severity of a person’s condition. If a person does not have sufficient medical documentation to support their claim (which is often true for invisible disabilities), their claim may be denied. The insurance company may wrongly focus on “objective” evidence, and fail to properly consider the person’s “subjective” evidence about their symptoms and functioning and the opinions of their doctors who based their opinions on their patients’ subjective reporting.

If there are inconsistencies in a person’s medical records or if the medical evidence is not consistent with the person’s self-reported symptoms, their claim may be denied. Symptoms for these conditions may vary from hour to hour, day to day, month to month. The insurance company may use inconsistent reporting of symptoms and functioning as a means of questioning the person’s credibility and severity of their condition and denying the claim on that basis. This can be extremely insulting, frustrating, and hurtful to our clients.

If a person has not followed the recommended or “appropriate” treatment plan for their condition, their claim may be denied. The insurance company may assume that a person’s condition would improve if they were receiving treatment that they deem “appropriate” for the condition and irrespective of the person’s individual condition. This is a problem because often treatment is not known, available, affordable, or effective for many invisible disabilities. Often the person’s only option is to manage symptoms with or without traditional forms of treatment.

In some cases, the disability case manager reviewing the claim may not understand the person’s condition and fail to take the steps necessary to properly assess the claim. They may decide to deny it outright or they may refer the file to one of the insurance company’s medical consultants. The medical consultant will provide an opinion that is based solely on a paper review of the records and without any assessment of the person. Due to the lack of “objective” evidence in the records, the opinion will not normally be supportive of the claim and a denial will soon follow based on the medical consultant’s opinion.

It is important for individuals with invisible disabilities to work closely with their medical providers and contact us to ensure they have the best chance of successfully claiming LTD benefits. It is also crucial to contact us as soon as possible after a denial or termination of a claim in order to preserve their options for disputing the decision.

Bad faith and emotional distress in invisible disability claims

Mulqueen Disability Law believes our clients should never be made to feel as though they are exaggerating, malingering, or lying about their symptoms or functionality. Insurance companies have a “good faith” obligation to claimants in how they assess all claims for disability, including claims for invisible disabilities.

Some clients are surprised to learn that there is no exclusion for invisible disabilities in their insurance policies. A definitive diagnosis is not normally required to be eligible for LTD benefits. The same is true for the requirement for “appropriate” treatment. Some conditions have no effective or medically supported treatment and there is no “appropriate” treatment. Similarly, “objective evidence” is not always a requirement, particularly, when there is no objective evidence for determining the existence and severity of some invisible disabilities. Knowing this gives us the power to hold insurance companies to their obligations.

Insurance companies are bound by the terms and conditions of their policies. When they assess claims for invisible disabilities based on terms or conditions that are not in their policies, we can use this as evidence of them not acting in “good faith”. In badly mismanaged claims, we can find evidence to support our clients’ claims for “bad faith” damages and emotional and financial distress damages. 

Mulqueen Disability Law: unparalleled experience representing clients with invisible disabilities in Markham, Toronto & across Ontario

Mulqueen Disability Law has over 20 years of experience representing clients with invisible disabilities in long-term disability litigation. Courtney Mulqueen, the firm’s founding partner, has litigated LTD claims from both sides of the table. With her previous experience as in-house counsel for major life and health insurance companies, Courtney brings a unique insight into the insurance industry that empowers her to provide top-tier representation to disabled clients. We are dedicated to providing responsive, compassionate, and trauma-informed advocacy for claimants suffering from invisible conditions.

With locations in Markham and Toronto, Mulqueen Disability Law advocates for disabled clients throughout York Region, the Greater Toronto Area, and Ontario. We provide our services virtually for clients who have difficulty meeting us in person. To schedule a free, confidential initial consultation for your LTD matter, please contact us online or by phone at 416-900-0368 (or toll-free at 833-363-LAW [529]).