Lyme disease is caused by bacteria typically transmitted through bites by infected ticks. It can be treated and even cured with antibiotics if caught early; however, without prompt and proper treatment, the disease progresses through increasingly debilitating stages. Even when Lyme disease is treated promptly, a small percentage of people do not fully recover.
If your Lyme disease symptoms are making work increasingly difficult, ERISA long term disability lawyer Jonathan M. Feigenbaum would like to speak with you. He understands how the complications of Lyme disease – extreme fatigue, memory loss, and pain – can disable even the most dedicated worker. Most importantly, he knows what evidence insurance companies need to approve a victim of Lyme disease for disability benefits.
Signs and Symtoms
The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease often involve multiple systems, particularly the skin, joints, and nervous system:
- Rash. Between three to 30 days after a tick bite, the infected site may develop a circular, outwardly expanding, bull’s-eye pattern rash with a red outer ring surrounding a clear area. Multiple rashes indicate the bacterium is growing in the blood stream.
- Flu-like symptoms. Fever, skills, headaches, fatigue, malaise, and body aches may occur during the early stages.
- Migratory joint, muscles, and tendons pain. You may develop bouts of severe joint pain and swelling, or muscle or tendon pain within days to weeks after the bite.
- Neurological problems. Weeks, months or even years after an untreated infection, you may experience dizziness; inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis) that causes severe headaches, neck stiffness, and sensitivity to light; temporary paralysis of one or both sides of your face (facial palsy); limb numbness or weakness; impaired muscle movement; memory loss; sleep disturbances; and/or, mood swings.
- Other symptoms. Some people experience heart problems (e.g. irregular heartbeat), eye inflammation, hepatitis and severe fatigue.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause:
- Chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis), particularly above the knee.
- Neurological symptoms – facial palsy, neuropathy, tingling in the hands or feet, numbness, shooting pains, bladder problems, back pain, and permanent impairment of lower extremities motor or sensory functions.
- Cognitive defects – impaired memory, difficulties with concentration and short-term memory, delusional behavior, panic attacks, anxiety, brain fog, migraines, vertigo, etc.
- Heart rhythm irregularities.
To obtain disability benefits, you will have to convince the insurance company that you actually have Lyme disease. Disability insurers will demand medical records establishing that your Lyme disease has been diagnosed correctly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a two-tiered diagnostic protocol: a sensitive ELISA test and, if positive, the more specific Western Blot Test, which detects Lyme disease-related antibodies. If you haven’t had these blood tests or the results don’t satisfy the CDC diagnostic criteria, insurers are less likely to accept your diagnosis.
In addition to proper diagnosis, you will have to convince the insurer that your symptoms prevent you from working. ERISA long term disability attorneys recommend thoroughly documenting your symptoms and how they affect you. Here are two tips:
- Talk to your doctor. Explain your symptoms since your last visit, including how your condition affects your daily life and ability to work. Make sure the doctor records your statements.
- Keep a diary. Record and track your symptoms, severity, and any other limitations you may be experiencing each day and night.
A long term disability attorney in Boston can further help you prove your condition by:
- Getting a written opinion from your doctor detailing the basis of your diagnosis and your workplace limitations.
- Getting written statements from people who know you well and can describe how your illness has changed you.
- Referring you for further medical testing and evaluation if any seems warranted. For example, neuropsychological testing can be helpful if you have problems with memory and concentration.
An ERISA Long Term Disability Lawyer Can Help
We will work with you, your employer and your doctors to assure you have the proper documentation to strengthen your long term disability claim or appeal. For assistance, contact Jonathan M. Feigenbaum, Esquire, a skilled ERISA Long Term Disability Lawyer, at (617) 939-9731 or toll free (800) 617-1877.