April 18, 2024

Can You Get Long-Term Disability Benefits for a Mental Illness?

As the public and health experts have understood mental illness more deeply than ever, psychiatric diagnoses are increasing. But although society has accepted mental illness awareness, the disability insurance industry treats physical and mental conditions differently. While you may get long-term disability (LTD) insurance benefits for a psychiatric condition, some limitations apply. Before you file an LTD claim, ensure you are informed about the conditions that qualify for LTD

Defining Mental Illnesses

A mental illness is a health problem that involves changes in your behavior, thinking, and emotion It may cause you distress and problem socializing. Mental illnesses vary in severity. They can fall into the following categories:

  • Anxiety disorders. In stressful situations, you can experience debilitating fear or uncertainty. Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 
  • Mood disorders. With these conditions, you could experience erratic and low moods for a long time. You may feel hopeless or worthless. Depression and bipolar disorder are common mood disorders. 
  • Eating disorders. These include unhealthy food habits, usually accompanied by a poor outlook on body image and health. They include anorexia, binge-eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa. 
  • Psychotic disorders. With these conditions, you will have difficulty experiencing reality as normal. It includes schizophrenia. 

Navigating the Two-Year Payment Limitation

Whether you have individual or employer-sponsored disability insurance, there is a universal two-year limitation on disability payments to observe. The majority of policies won’t offer monthly payments for mental illnesses longer than two years. 

Usually, insurance companies may try to frame your disability as a mental illness instead of a physical illness if the specific cause of your condition is unknown. For instance, chronic fatigue can result from both physical and psychological factors. If you are seeking benefits for this condition, the insurer may establish that your disability is mental. This way, they can only pay you benefits for up to 24 months. 

It’s important to consider what originally caused your illness. If the symptoms of your mental illness result from a physical injury, the two-year rule should not apply to your case if your policy pays benefits due to a mental condition. A good example is if you have PTSD after being in a car accident. 

It’s important to review your insurance policy carefully with your disability attorney, so you know what coverage you have based on your disability. Also, you need to be aware of any limitations to your coverage. 

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