Serious arthritic pain can no doubt have a brutal and damaging impact on one’s quality of life. Over four million Canadians are affected by at least one type of arthritis in their lifetime. It is often associated with the effects of aging and with elderly populations, but the reality is that arthritis can affect anyone of any age. Arthritis can be a terribly difficult disease to manage, both for employees and for employers, as it often begins when people are in the prime of their working lives.
Arthritis is often used as an umbrella term for a variety of different conditions that arise from joint pain. The two main types that we have seen debilitate workers and employees include osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis – sometimes recognized as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that develops when the articular cartilage degenerates in a joint. The articular cartilage is a sponge-like slippery material covering the ends of bones at the point where they meet the joint, allowing the joints to slide back and forth with very little friction. For instance, the meeting point of the tibia (shin bone) and femur (thigh bone) at the knee. It functions mainly as a shock absorber or cushion in the joint. When this “shock absorber” wears out or is worn down, Osteoarthritis or joint degeneration occurs. The articular cartilage decreases in size or volume when it wears out. Bones lose their shock-absorbing buffers and start rubbing against each other without cartilage or with less cartilage. As the wearing down of the cartilage progresses, changes occur in the muscles and bones around the affected joints. Nonetheless, the major problem with osteoarthritis is when the articular cartilage completely (or close to) degenerates, which results in people developing pain, joint stiffness, and joint swelling in their joints when using them. Although the most common joints where people develop Osteoarthritis are the back, knees, hips, neck, and hands, it can occur in practically any joint.
Over time, the chronic pain from osteoarthritis, depending on location, can become so severe it can impact one’s ability to perform daily tasks.
With Osteoarthritis of the knee, for instance, a person may feel joint pain when walking because the cartilage is unable to serve its function of a shock absorber. Osteoarthritis or wear-and-tear arthritis of the knee is commonly caused by daily “microtrauma,” injuries to meniscus cartilages or supporting ligaments, heredity, or deformity caused by fractures, either to the articular surfaces of the knee, or to the femur or tibia.
Now, post traumatic osteoarthritis osteoarthritis is often caused by the loss of articular cartilage; hence it is usually referred to as a “wear and tear” disease. While this isn’t out rightly true because one does not need to injure a joint before developing osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis indeed develops at a more rapid rate in people who suffer acute and direct trauma to their joints and cartilage.
According to our friends at pubmed, post-traumatic arthritis causes about 12% of all osteoarthritis cases. Persons with post-traumatic osteoarthritis can experience symptoms such as swelling, synovial effusion, pain and sometimes intra-articular bleeding. In most cases post-traumatic osteoarthritis can recover spontaneously, but the persistence of symptoms after 6 months may be considered pathological and chronic.
Posttraumatic osteoarthritis of the knee following trauma is quite common. The type of injury associated with posttraumatic osteoarthritis of the knee may be a fracture, cartilage damage, acute ligament sprain or chronic ligamentous instability. The most common clinical picture leading to a compensable knee replacement due to osteoarthritis involves trauma. A direct injury causing either intra-articular fracture or a serious ligamentous injury resulting in chronic instability can lead to a “worn out” knee requiring replacement.
Rheumatoid arthritis – is classified as an auto-inflammatory disease that can cause destruction of the joints if the body’s immune system is unable to function properly. It is a type of inflammatory arthritis whereby inflammation is the major cause of joint problems. In addition to considerable stiffness and pain, inflammation can cause warmth and swelling in the joints. Studies found that the inflammation that causes rheumatoid arthritis also leads to other problems. Rheumatoid arthritis patients usually suffer from such symptoms as fatigue, decreased appetite, depression, low-grade fever, muscle aches, pain and swelling in the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis – can span over months or years, which is why it’s also referred to as a chronic illness which can be brutally debilitating. The joints involved in rheumatoid arthritis depend on each person. For instance, some people only experience painful joints in their hands, while others may feel pain in their knees or feet. However, there’s a certain pattern to the joints that can potentially become affected, which is one of the defining features of rheumatoid arthritis. The joints most commonly affected by rheumatoid arthritis are finger joints, wrists, elbows, shoulders, jaw, some joints in the neck, hips, knees, ankles, and foot and toe joints.
Other types of arthritis are generally classified as systemic conditions or musculoskeletal conditions. Systemic conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, and scleroderma. Musculoskeletal conditions may include fibromyalgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), ankylosing spondylitis, and ehlers-danlos syndrome (EDS).
Arthritic disease is a leading cause of pain and disability not only in Canada – but worldwide. Millions are affected – men, women, old people, young people, and even children. It mainly affects an individual’s joints, causing pain and stiffness. The joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow or knee. Not only does it affect the joints and bones, but it also can affect blood vessels, skin, kidneys, eyes, brain and the immune system.
If left untreated, this crippling disease can worsen and disable a person and certainly caused them to be unable to work and need disability income replacement benefits. Whether or not you qualify for long-term disability will depend on several factors.
Firstly, you must be able to satisfy your policy definition that you suffer from a total disability. Overwhelming authority tells us that the term total disability within the context of a disability policy does not signify an absolute state of helplessness but means such a disability renders a claimant unable to perform the substantial and material duties of their own occupation in a usual or customary way. If your arthritis interferes with your ability to work and perform the substantial material duties of your own occupation then you will qualify for long-term disability benefits.
It’s important to note that you should be participating in a treatment program and following the advice of your medical doctors and specialists.
Also, it’s not atypical for persons that suffer from disabling arthritis issues to suffer mental illness, such as serious depression and anxiety that is pain focused or pain based.
It’s important to note that after two years on disability, most Canadian long-term disability carriers, such as Manulife, Sun Life, Great West Life, or Canada Life, hold policy definitions the change. After two years of collecting long-term disability benefits, a claimant must be unable to perform the substantial duties of any occupation for which he or she is reasonably suited by way of education training and experience. This is typically known as the “any occupation” test. It is a subjective test that has been generally applied by our courts without regard to whether the individual can perform any possible occupation on the planet, rather, the inquiry relates to whether the claimant can perform any occupation for which he or she would be reasonably suited by means of his or her training education and experiences. While all long-term disability policies differ in wording, they all generally require a consideration of the claimant’s work history, education, work experience etc.
It’s important that you discuss your case with a long-term disability lawyer as soon as you have been denied or cut-off LTD.
Disability claims specialists unfortunately often look for reasons to deny or cut off their long-term disability benefits – even in cases where disability is clearly evident. Often times they will cut off benefits of their policyholders because the insurance carrier believes they have an adequate medical evidence, missing medical records, your doctor is uncooperative or not providing required forms and information, there is video surveillance that reveals inconsistencies with your claim or evidence, you have missed deadlines or in most circumstances or the adjuster takes the position (without medical evidence or proof) that you do not meet the insurance policy definition of disability.
In fact, many disability claim are denied or cut-off at the two-year mark, or at the change of definition from “own occupation” to “any occupation”. After this point, you will be required to prove that you are unable to work any occupation related to or within the industry in which your previous occupation was classified. This includes any occupation with a similar pay grade, educational background, vocational experience, or training. At this point, it’s important to contact an experienced disability lawyer who can assist you in appealing your denial and obtaining the financial benefits you deserve. You have options – you have the right to fight, and you do not have to accept the denial.
Our disability law firm opts for a multidisciplinary approach utilizing the most reliable and professional medical, vocational, and social therapists and specialists within various industries to help prove your claim. Remember – you have the burden of proving your disability. It is our goal to help you prove on a balance of probabilities that your injury, chronic illness, mental illness or medical condition has rendered you unable to return to work.
We will also provide you with our support throughout the duration of your claim, whether it is in a settlement or in court. Our Hamilton disability lawyers have access to valuable resources that can assist you every step of the way, from reliable support workers to positive and helpful customer service agents. Working with us means making your life a little bit easier during this already difficult time.
If you are suffering severe arthritic paid that is preventing you from working, our Hamilton disability lawyers offer free consultations at your convenience with zero obligation to retain our services after the initial meeting. If you are in too much pain to travel, we can meet over ZOOM or we will come to you and meet you where it is most comfortable. We do not charge up front fees as we understand hiring a lawyer can be an added fee you are reluctant to endure. Contact us provincewide at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Hamiton / GTA at 905-333-8888. You can alternatively fill out a contact form and one of our representatives will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours or one business day.