Long Term Disability Benefits and Concerns About Contracting COVID-19

Long Term Disability Benefits and Concerns About Contracting COVID-19

We are starting to see LTD claims being denied by the insurance companies where there is a COVID-19 element to the claim. It is early days when it comes to seeing these claims where COVID-19 becomes an issue, because it takes months for denied claims to trickle down into the legal community.

A recent article in The Players’ Tribune, written by WNBA player Elena Delle Donne suggests that LTD insurers will use similar reasoning to deny claims.

Ms. Donne, who plays for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics has Lyme Disease and has to take 64 pills a day to be able to function and play basketball at the demanding high level required in a professional league.  She has suffered with Lyme Disease for more than a decade. She describes her long fight with the disease and the fact that she has been told repeatedly by health care professionals that Lyme Disease makes her immunocompromised. Getting a common cold or having a flu shot can cause her to have a serious relapse of her illness.

The WNBA, like other professional sport leagues is planning to have a shortened season by playing in a bubble. Even with all of the precautions, she is very nervous and worried about playing for her team in the bubble.  She like some other players in the NBA, NHL and MLB, to mention a few are concerned about the risk of playing and having to get treatment for COVID-19.

The WNBA has established a health exemption policy that would allow those that qualify to be exempt from playing in the bubble while still receiving their salary. Ms. Donne assumed there would be no question that she would qualify for the health exemption given her 10-year battle with Lyme Disease. She arranged for her specialist to write a full report describing her high-risk status.

To her shock and amazement, the WNBA’s panel of doctors denied her request for a health exemption. They didn’t interview her or ask for further clarification. She felt as though they were questioning her motivation or trying to get out of work to get a paycheck she wasn’t entitled to.

This is a sentiment often expressed by our clients whose LTD claims have been denied. The process is demeaning, and they are left feeling as though neither they nor their doctors are believed.

In follow up to the article she wrote, her team, the Washington Mystics have now said they will be paying her whether she plays or not, however the terms and conditions are still be sorted out, so the final chapter for her hasn’t been clarified just yet.

For people considering making a claim for disability benefits where they are otherwise able to work but have other health conditions that leave them immuno-compromised, strong medical information demonstrating the degree of risk you face that would justify a claim for disability benefits will be required.   It will also be important to show how the particular job puts you at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Rest assured, insurers will likely be very much on their guard to try to shut down these claims in order to avoid facing a huge influx of claims. If you find yourself having to make a claim and it is denied, contact our office to discuss whether we can help you. We can only hope that insurers will give claimants the benefit of the doubt, but past experience suggests that insurance companies will be scrutinizing such claims very carefully.

Has your long-term disability claim been denied? Contact Share Lawyers and put our experience to work for you. We have recently settled cases against Great-West Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and many more. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless we win your case. Find out if you have a disability case.