It’s highly probable that your long term disability (LTD) policy limits the time that your insurer will pay benefits if mental illness is the cause of your disability. A fairly standard provision within most LTD policies sets 24 months as the maximum duration for which a mental health disability claimant can receive LTD benefits. Of course, the actual time will vary based on the specific language used within a given policy. That’s why it’s crucial to check your LTD policy and verify the exact length of time it will pay out benefits for mental illness-related claims. As an aside, though they’re rare, some policies don’t place time limitations on such claims at all.
Limitations on mental illness-related claims are generally held to be legal. However, the clauses that restrict payouts on these specific disability benefits are extremely unfair. They showcase a clear bias by insurance companies against those who suffer from mental disabilities; many of which can be just as disabling as those that are physical in nature.
Over the past few decades, science has learned a great deal about mental illness. Psychiatrists now believe that most mental health problems stem from physical issues located within the brain. Therefore, it is an outdated and flawed assumption to think that environmental or emotional factors are the primary sources of all mental illnesses.
One particular legal issue that comes up frequently in long term disability cases, is whether the cause of a person’s disability is a mental health condition, or a physical one. For example in the case of a stroke, the victim often suffers from physical as well as non-physical medical issues. Indeed, some stroke victims develop severe depression in addition to physical symptoms such as paralysis. The outcomes of such cases are usually decided on an individual basis. The court’s ruling will depend greatly on the exact policy language regarding the mental health exclusion as well as the unique facts associated with the claimant’s illness.
If you currently receive disability benefits and suffer from mental health limitations, it’s a good idea to carefully review your policy. In addition, an experienced attorney can determine whether any limitations in the payment of benefits apply to your case. A long term disability attorney can help you develop a claim strategy that makes it difficult for an insurance company to limit the duration your benefit payments.