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Don't get tricked: mental health conditions and disability insurance

On Halloween, kids get their one chance all year to engage in socially-sanctioned "trick or treat." For insurance companies that offer disability insurance, however, it often seems like the tricks they use trying to deny coverage go on all year.

In this post, let's look at one of these deceptive and improper tactics: trying to cut off payments for disabling conditions that also carry consequences for mental health.

How policies are written

Most disability insurance policies offer at least limited coverage for mental health conditions. This can extend to a wide range of conditions that includes clinical depression, anxiety disorders, dementia and bipolar disorder.

But although insurance companies may offer this coverage, they are aggressive in seeking to limit their exposure to claims that arise from it. It is therefore common for disability insurance policies - even for professionals such as doctors, attorneys or architects - to limit the duration of time that benefits are paid out to a maximum of two years

If you are facing a long-term disability, that is obviously not a very long time. And even if you aren't facing disability, it's something you may want to consider as you enroll in your yearly benefits.

Mental vs. physical

But what happens when someone has a seriously disabling physical conditional that also manifests itself in mental health consequences?

This is where you have to watch out for insurance companies playing tricks on you. What often happens, when someone has a combination of physical and mental conditions, is that the company tries to categorize the conditions as entirely mental - as an excuse to cut off disability payments after only two years.

For example, let's say you have an orthopedic condition that greatly limits your movement and causes intense chronic pain. The pain may be so bad that your doctor prescribed opiate painkillers. And the combination of circumstances - the pain, along with not being able to work and do the things you used to enjoy - may have caused you to become depressed.

In this situation, the insurance company may try to cut off your benefits after only two years, contending that your problems are entirely due to mental conditions. If that happens, you have every right to push back against such unfair and illegal practices.

Asserting your interests

To someone who is already hurting, a wrongful disability claim denial adds insult to injury. An attorney knowledgeable about insurance law can help prevent the insurance company from pulling a trick on you.

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