Most people will see a rheumatologist at some point in their lives. A rheumatologist is a board-certified physician who has had additional training in diagnosing and treating joint, muscle, and bone diseases such as arthritis, gout, tendonitis, autoimmune conditions, musculoskeletal pain, diseases and conditions, and osteoporosis. After medical school, a candidate must work in a three-year residency program to receive additional training before becoming board certified in their specialty.
A rheumatologist has a great deal of direct patient contact. In diagnosing and treating a condition, a rheumatologist may order and review diagnostic imaging scans, may work directly with patients assessing and working with the range of motion of joints, developing a treatment plan, creating medical notes, and assessing how treatments are working overtime. This can involve a great deal of standing, walking, lifting, crouching, and craning of the neck. Like all medical professionals, a rheumatologist sees and works with a lot of patients on any given day. Days are long, and stress levels are often high. A rheumatologist often works in a hospital setting, seeing patients and providing immediate bedside consultations when requested by other medical health care providers. Working with patients can vary depending on a patient’s needs. Medication, physical therapy, injections, and surgery are all a part of the spectrum of care provided by a rheumatologist. Often, a rheumatologist will see a patient for years.
A skiing accident, a slip of the scalpel, a blood-borne disease, a car accident, a fall down the stairs. Any of these can affect a rheumatologist’s ability to work with their patients. A fall can result in damaged vertebrae. A slip of the scalpel can slice the tendons in a doctor’s hand. A blood-borne disease can be transmitted by an accidental needle stick during an injection. A rheumatologist who cannot move well due to injury or their own arthritic debilitation cannot treat their patients.
Stress and burnout can cause cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety. Physicians are particularly vulnerable to mental and emotional disorders due to the nature of their work. Long hours, heavy patient loads, and heavy bureaucratic expectations can all lead to increased instances of exhaustion, physical illness, and mental health disorders in the profession.
Ferrin v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 336 F. Supp. 3d 910 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 28, 2018) (holding insurance policy’s grant of discretionary authority is void under Texas law due to certificate being issued after effective date of regulation, and policy renewing after effective date, and holding Plaintiff was disabled from Any Reasonable Occupation where treating doctors certify she can sit at the occasional level, and insurer’s consultants opine Plaintiff can sit frequently, as weighing all evidence together would make capacity likely at low end of frequent range at best).
Sadowski v. Tuckpointers Local 52 Health & Welfare Trust, 281 F. Supp. 3d 710 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 20, 2017) (holding plan was arbitrary and capricious in denying medical benefits for removal of spinal cord stimulator following a fall down the stairs and infection where plan argued the expenses were caused by the same injury as the car accident necessitating implantation of the stimulator years earlier)
Tassone v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co., 264 F. Supp. 3d 867 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 30, 2017) (awarding client long term disability benefits denied by United of Omaha despite insurer’s doctor opining there was no objective evidence of functional impairment)
Suson v. PNC Fin. Servs. Grp., Inc., No. 15-CV-10817, 2017 WL 3234809 (N.D. Ill. July 31, 2017) (holding Liberty Mutual’s denial of client’s long term disability benefits was arbitrary and capricious where Liberty Mutual disregarded client’s carpal tunnel syndrome and relied on a vocational opinion to which client never had an opportunity to address before litigation)
Though own occupation disability insurance is not the only type of disability insurance used among medical professionals, it is frequently the most important. It is designed to protect a specialized medical professional who has spent years training in their field from a disability that prevents that person from continuing to work in their own specialization.
The most important part of this policy is how “disability” is defined. If you are disabled under an own occupation policy, the medical professional must prove that they are unable to perform the duties of their specific occupation substantially and materially.
Though this sounds straightforward, it often is not. An adjuster may not fully understand the scope of your duties or how and why you are unable to fulfill those duties. Sometimes, additional documentation or a vocational study is needed before the claim will be approved. If you are in the Chicago area, a disability insurance attorney can help you understand what is needed to have your claim approved.
We help Chicago professionals get the disability benefits they need and deserve. Contact us for a free consultation to see what Bartolic Law can do for you. You have helped so many. Let us help you.