LTD: Was Your Claim Denied Because You “Are Not Receiving Appropriate Treatment?”

LTD: Was Your Claim Denied Because You “Are Not Receiving Appropriate Treatment?”

At Share Lawyers, we see a lot of Disability Claims being denied based on the failure to obtain appropriate treatment, which can arise with respect to a number of illnesses or medical conditions that prevent people from being able to work. Many such denials of benefits are based on the alleged failure to be under the care of a psychiatrist, or failing to take prescribed medication.

In Canada, getting a timely referral to a psychiatrist for appropriate treatment is challenging in and of itself, and arises out of a shortage of psychiatrists in major metropolitan areas, and even more acutely in outlying areas. Those that do come under the care of a psychiatrist may be resistant to taking the prescribed medication due to side effects, or the belief that psychotherapy or counselling may offer a more effective treatment.

New York Times Op-Ed

In a recent Op-Ed piece that appeared in the New York Times Sunday Review (July 17, 2015) titled, “Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis”, Richard A. Friedman, who is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, writes that “…every major class of current psychotropic drugs—antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications—basically targets the same receptors and neurotransmitters…as did their precursors, which were developed in the 1950s and 1960s.”

He notes that for most psychiatrists, prescribing pills is an easier and simpler approach to providing psychotherapy, but one that is frequently ineffective to get to the root of the underlying psychiatric condition. He goes on to say that “There is often no substitute for the self-understanding that comes with therapy. Sure, as a psychiatrist, I can quell a patient’s anxiety, improve mood and clear psychosis with the right medication. But there is no pill -and probably will never be–for any number of painful and disruptive emotional problems we are heir to…”

Appropriate Treatment

This article and the studies cited within it, as well as similar views expressed within the psychiatric community, offer useful ammunition to combat the blind insistence by insurers requiring disability claimants to take prescription medication. In some cases, where taking prescription medication may turn out to be counter-productive, and where therapy and counselling may prove to provide a more beneficial treatment. This is not to say that medication has no place and that research to further develop prescription medication that can help should not continue, but the points conveyed by Mr. Friedman should be considered when debating what constitutes “appropriate treatment” in a disability claim arising out of psychiatric conditions.

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