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LALANDE PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS ARTICLES

Long-Term Disability Benefits and Lymphoma

By Matt Lalande in Long-Term Disability on October 11, 2021

Long-Term Disability Benefits and Lymphoma

Living with a blood cancer such as lymphoma is devastating on both the affected persons and their loved ones. In As of 2019, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, and the Canadian Cancer Society estimates that one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. In addition to coping with the worry and stress brought about by a cancer diagnosis, people with cancer and their families must also often cope with the stresses induced by physically demanding treatments for the cancer, as well as disability, fatigue, and pain that can result, even when there are no longer any signs of the disease. – leaving them unable to work.

As of 2019, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, and the Canadian Cancer Society estimates that one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. In addition to coping with the worry and stress brought about by a cancer diagnosis, people with cancer and their families must also often cope with the stresses induced by physically demanding cancer treatments, as well as disability, fatigue, and pain that can result, even when there are no longer any signs of the disease.

Also, in addition to the above noted pressures, many cancer victims often have to deal with serious financial loss. While it’s true that a return to work can no doubt promote a sense of normalcy and control during an emotionally challenging time, for many cancer victims, treatment and recovery can lead to a substantial amount of missed work that comes with dealing with cancer and it’s accompanying treatment.

A bigger problem occurs when cancer victims are wrongfully denied or cut off their disability benefits. Many cancer survivors rely on monthly financial assistance from their disability carriers so that they can focus on their recovery. Unfortunately, when disability benefits are cut-off or denied, many cancer survivors – now left without income – suffer increased emotional distress, a decreased quality of life and decreased treatment adherence. In short, being cut-off your disability benefits while recovering from cancer and not being able to work can cause serious adverse psychological effects and not to mention, cause an interruption or delay in treatment.

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is blood cancer that forms in the lymphatic system, which is a component of the body’s immune and circulatory system. While the lymphatic system has multiple functions, its primary function is to collect excess fluid called lymph, filter it through lymph nodes (glands in the body), and circulate it back into the body’s blood stream. There are over 600 lymph nodes throughout the body that work to filter out these fluids. Lymph comes from tissues, cells, and fats in the intestines. The lymphatic system is also responsible for defending the body from diseases through the production and circulation of white blood cells.

While it is often confused with leukemia, another type of blood cancer, lymphoma differs in the source of origin. Leukemia is found in the blood and bone marrow, while lymphoma originates in tissues of the body – most commonly in the lymph nodes.

Lymphoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in young people under 25 and children. Fortunately, it is often treatable and the mortality rate for all types of lymphoma have decreased significantly over the last few decades as treatment options have improved.

Types of Lymphoma: Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 

There are two main types of lymphoma: non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. Each of these types of lymphoma have their own subtypes and sets of classifications depending on where the cancer develops, what type of cells are impacted, and how quickly it is spreading.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma otherwise known as Hodgkin’s disease is a slow spreading cancerous disease originating from white blood cells and is known to initially develop in the lymphatic tissues of the body spreading from one lymph node to the other. The lymphatic tissues are that specific area of the body containing the lymphatic nodes and other organs related to our immune system. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the net 5-year survival rate (the average percentage of diagnosed patients who survive for at least 5 years) for Hodgkin lymphoma is 86%.

The nodes that are affected by this cancer are characteristically small bean shaped body organs found beneath the skin in the underarm regions, the neck, groin, within the chest, abdomen and also the pelvis. Because of the high concentration of lymphatic tissues within most body parts Hodgkin’s lymphoma has the ability to start almost anywhere in the body.

The most common areas of initial occurrence in patients have been in the chest, neck and under the arms. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is only one of two specific types of common cancers affecting the lymphatic system existing in patients today. The far more common type is known as the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is the more common of the two. 

Some of the common signs and symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Pain in the neck, groin, chest, abdomen, or underarms 
  • Unexplainable weight loss 
  • Night sweats 
  • Fatigue 
  • Unexplainable fever
  • Itchy skin or the development of skin rashes
  • Appetite loss
  • Persistent coughing or shortness of breath 
  • Unusual reactions to drinking alcohol (such as pain in the lymph nodes)

It’s important to understand that many of these symptoms appear in a variety of different types of conditions and illnesses, and even the common cold; therefore, a proper diagnosis may be difficult to determine initially. 

While there is no specific cause, there are some risk factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing lymphoma. These include:

  • Age 
  • Pre-existing autoimmune diseases such as HIV or AIDS
  • Hepatitis infections 
  • Gender (males are more likely to develop lymphoma)
  • Over-exposure to chemicals such as pesticides for long periods of time 
  • Radiation exposure 
  • Consuming a diet heavy in meat and fat 

Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment and Recovery

While lymphoma is treatable, it often metastasizes quickly to the rest of the body due to the fact that it occurs within the immune system. It most commonly spreads to the liver, lungs, or bone marrow. As is the case with most cancers, the earlier it is detected, the higher the probability of survival and recovery will be.

Treatments for lymphoma include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation therapy 
  • Monoclonal antibody therapy
  • Stem cell transplant 
  • Drug or pharmaceutical treatment
  • Steroids (usually used in cases where an individual may not be able to undergo chemotherapy or radiation)
  • Surgery (in rare cases)

Recovering from cancer and cancer treatment is never easy on the body or the mind, and cancer is a costly illness. Radiation treatments and chemotherapy in particular have adverse side effects such as chronic fatigue, pain, nausea, and hair loss. Further, cancer treatments are time consuming and require a significant amount of time away from work (if the individual is physically able to work at all during this time). This often results in an individual’s inability to continue to work.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects specialized white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes work together with other cells in the immune system to defend the body against invasion by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other foreign substances.

Lymphocytes travel in the bloodstream and in another network of mostly small vessels called the lymphatic system. Lymphocytes are also found in specialized structures called lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are bean-shaped structures that act as sentinels (ie, soldiers or guards who keep watch) because they are often the first defense against invading organisms, such as viruses and bacterial infections.

What are some risk factors for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?

Some risk factors for developing Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma are:

  • Medications that suppress your immune system
  • Infection with certain viruses and bacteria
  • Chemicals 
  • Older age.

Common symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?

Some common symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma are:

  • Fatigue, fever, chills, night sweats, painless swelling of lymph nodes(generally unilateral), pruritus, weight loss.
  • A wide variety of  symptoms may occur if there is pulmonary involvement – such as superior vena cava obstruction, hepatic or bone involvement, and involvement of other structures.

How is NHL Diagnosed?

To be sure of a diagnosis of NHL or any cancer, a biopsy is required. A biopsy is a procedure in which a piece of tissue from an area of suspected dis-ease is removed from the body and examined by a pathologist with a number of tests to establish a diagnosis. A pathologist would examine a sample from the biopsy under a microscope to see if it contains any lymphoma cells and, if possible, to identify the specific type of lymphoma. A pathologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis of diseases by studying the cells from a patient’s body fluids and tissue samples. 

Can I Get Disability Benefits if I suffer from Lymphoma?

With time missed from work and costs associated with treatment that are not covered under a benefit plan or OHIP, the financial burden of a lymphoma diagnosis can add up quickly. Worrying about your finances while undergoing treatment for a painful and devastating illness can have a substantial impact on your mental health and physical wellbeing. Filing for long-term disability benefits can assist you in collecting some financial stability during this time and relieve the stress of worrying about debt while you focus on your recovery.

Cancers such as lymphoma are covered by most long-term disability insurance plans in Canada – depending on wether or not you satisfy your policy’s definition of “total disability.” In most circumstances, one must be unable to complete the substantial duties of his or her own regular occupation – meaning of you cannot the “substantial” or the “majority” of the duties of your own job, you are entitled to a monthly long-term disability payment to assist until and if you recover.

After the 2 years mark, if you are still not back to work, you must satisfy your disability carrier that you are not able to resume any occupation for which you are reasonably suited by education training of experience – or in short, you are unemployable.

In order to file a successfully prove your claim for denied disability benefits, your disability lawyers must collect, prepare and present evidence that indicates your diagnosis and which proves your total disability and that that you are currently seeking treatment or in recovery from treatment.

Denied Long-Term Disability and suffer from Lymphoma?

Disability insurers denied disability claims for a variety of reasons. In some cases, it may be an error on your paperwork, while in other cases it may be that they claim your illness is not covered by your insurance policy.

In most circumstances, your disability carrier will aim to have you participate in a return to work (RTW) program as you approach the 2-year mark. In our experience, no matter what the result of your RTW – your disability insurer will try and find reason to cut-off your disability benefits. But remember, disability insurance adjusters are not medical doctors. They formulate their own decisions, often unilaterally, without assistance the from your own treating doctors or treating specialists. Often times they simply cut-off claimant’s benefits because they “think” that you are “good enough” to go back to work, based on documents or something your doctor might have said.

However, 9 times out of 10, disability insurance companies unfortunately don’t look at the full picture. They do not see how you suffer with your chronic illness, chronic disease or chronic pain. For persons suffering from lymphoma, they might only see a “successful course of treatment” and cannot see the emotional distress and mental health problems you suffer, which together can lead to substantial social problems, such as the inability to work and hence, your reduced income.

If Your Disability Benefits for Lymphoma Have Been Denied or Cut Off, You Still Have Options. Talk to a Hamilton Disability Lawyer Today. 

Insurance carriers will do what they can to dissuade you from making an appeal to reinstate your benefits. If you’ve been denied long-term disability benefits, talk to us today. Since 2002, our firm has represented disability claimants against all major disability insurance companies and have recovered millions of dollars in wrongfully denied long-term disability benefits.

We are dedicating to helping claimants who have been denied or cut off from their disability benefits. Our firm never represents insurance companies and always prioritizes those who have been wronged to ensure that they are given a fair chance at legal representation.

Book a free consultation with us by using our online form or calling us at 1-844-LALANDE (525-2633) within Ontario and 905-333-8888 within Hamilton and Niagara. All consultations are available at our Hamilton main office, virtually, or at your preferred location if you are not well enough to travel.

Quick Summary:

What is Lymphoma?

A lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates from lymphocytes in the lymph nodes. There are two major categories of lymphomas: non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). Both of these major categories of lymphoma are further subdivided into numerous types, which are different in the way they develop and spread. The particular type of lymphoma a patient has may need its own plan of treatment. Unlike other cancers, therapy and prognosis are not based on the stage at which the disease is diagnosed but rather is determined by the lymphoma subtype.

What is the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system is a system of capillaries,vessels, nodes and other organs that transports fluid called lymph from the tissues as it returns to the bloodstream. The lymphatic tissue of these organs filters and cleans the lymph of any debris, abnormal cells, or pathogens. The lymphatic system also transports fatty acids from the intestines to the circulatory system.

What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin’s disease, is a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system. It occurs most commonly in people aged 15 to 40 or over 55. The cause of Hodgkin’s is unknown but may be a combination of genetics, environmental exposures, and infectious agents. Current treatments are highly effective.

What is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?

 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is cancer that originates in your lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout your body. In Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes
 a type of white blood cell.Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common than the other general type of lymphoma

 Hodgkin lymphoma.Many different subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma exist. The most common non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma subtypes include diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.

What should I do if I have been denied my long-term disability and I suffer from Lymphoma?

You should not waste ANY time at all – you should speak to a disability lawyer today to learn your rights and legal entitlements.

Is it free to talk to a disability lawyer?

Yes we offer 100% free consultations. We are happy to take as long as you need to answer all of your disability related questions.

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Ontario Long-Term Disability Lawyers
1 King Street East, Suite 1705
Hamilton, On L8P 1A4
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