Disability Claims for Dentists
Our Attorneys Serve Clients Nationwide
Our firm has handled numerous disability claims on behalf of dentists across the country. We are aware of the unique work dentists complete and thus, the unique nature of any disability claim.
Reach out to our disability lawyers to get the help that you need.
What Types of Issues are Unique to Dentists?
The first thing to address in any disability claim is the policy or policies. Many professionals like dentists hold multiple policies. So, you might have a group long-term disability policy through your office, but you might also have an individual policy. Many times, these policies will have different definitions of disability or different requirements for proving your disability. They may even be governed by different laws. It is important to understand the parameters of each policy before moving forward.
Many policies for dentists are considered “own occupation” policies. This means that disability benefits are owed if you are unable to perform the major duties of your occupation as a dentist. Your policy might even define your occupation as your specialty if you have one.
If your policy is an own occupation policy, it is important not to erode your occupation. This often happens when dentists begin to notice their injury or disability, so begin to cut back on difficult procedures, surgeries, or patient loads. When the disability insurance company is evaluating what your “own occupation” is, however, they will look at the work you were performing just before leaving work. So, as you scale back, you are actually redefining your occupation. It is important to minimize this as much as possible.
Dentists are required to maintain a difficult physical posture throughout the day. We have seen many clients with thoracic and cervical spine conditions due to this constant positioning. At times, a cervical spine condition will result in numbness and/or tingling in the hands and arms. For a dentist who needs to exercise the utmost hand control, this is particularly debilitating.
In many disability cases, the insured is sent to a functional capacity evaluation where a series of tests, such as lifting, climbing, walking, and carrying are completed in order to assess a person’s functional capacity. A basic functional capacity evaluation, however, can miss the mark for specific professions. In a recent case, our client attended a functional capacity evaluation, which we specialized to pertain specifically to the work of a dentist. Accordingly, the test included static positional holding, ability to sustain hand control, and the ability to stoop, among other tasks.
It is very important to work with a disability attorney if you are a dentist anticipating filing a disability claim. Our firm is available to help you create a strategic plan before you leave work.