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Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma & Long-Term Disability Claims

By Matt Lalande in Hamilton Disability Lawyer, Hamilton Law Firm, Long-Term Disability on February 07, 2023

Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma & Long-Term Disability Claims

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system. It can be difficult to diagnose and manage, as symptoms often don’t appear until the lymphoma has advanced into the later stages, meaning that treatment options for cases of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are often limited and can be more extensive than other types of cancer. In Canada, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is the fifth most commonly diagnosed form of cancer as well as 91% of all lymphoma diagnoses in the country. Cancers like Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are often the cause of work disability as a result of serious physical and mental symptoms and side effects as a result of medical treatments.

If you suffer from NHL your ability to work may be compromised – which may entitle you to long-term disability benefits. Pursuing long-term disability benefits, however, can be an incredibly stressful process for those dealing with the financial burden of an illness that leaves them unable to work. Being denied, despite long waits and arduous paperwork, can be devastating. Not only is there emotional stress, but there’s also a strain on financial security. To make matters worse, many individuals need long-term disability benefits in order to survive at all. In these situations, every setback or rejection can mean the difference between getting back on one’s feet financially and being left unable to make ends meet. It’s understandable why this would be even more distressing than other types of denials. If this happens to you, it’s important that you contact our Hamilton Disability Lawyers as soon as possible. Our Long-term Disability Lawyers can provide the help you need to get the disability benefits you deserve. We have experience in dealing with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cases and can provide professional representation to ensure that you receive the long-term disability benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment with our firm. Call us today, toll-free, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Hamilton / Burlington area at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form on our website and we will be happy to get right back to you.

What is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is an invasive cancer that develops in the immune system’s lymphatic system, which defends our bodies against infection. The lymphatic system is a complex network of organs and tissues such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes and circulating lymphocytes (white blood cells). When healthy, the lymphatic system plays an essential role in producing and storing white blood cells that work to combat infection and transporting bodily fluids that dispose of waste away from cellular areas. In cases of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, however, the abnormal and excessive development of lymphocytes causes tumors to form across the body.

NHL is common among all age groups, but the majority of cases are diagnosed in individuals over 60. The exact source remains unknown; however, it may be due to genetic and environmental components. NHL can potentially cause grave consequences such as extensive disability requiring cancer treatment, including chemotherapy or radiation therapy which might significantly alter their capacity to perform labour activities.

Risk Factors

It’s unclear why certain individuals develop Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and others don’t. However, doctors believe that it’s due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as viral infections or exposure to certain chemicals or radiation. Below are certain risk factors that can help identify individuals who may be more prone to developing NHL:

Immunosuppressive medication – people who have had an operation where immunosuppressive medication is required (medicine that controls your immune response) are at greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Immunosuppressive medication weakens the body’s natural immune system, causing lymphocytes to multiply rapidly in order to produce antibodies to treat medical conditions. However, this same process can also increase the risk of conditions like lymphoma, which are able to develop in people with weakened immune systems. 

Having a weakened immune system – can be an increased risk factor for developing non-hodgkins lymphoma. People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infections and less capable of fighting them off. This affects their body’s ability to ward off diseases or illnesses that could potentially lead to the development of cancerous cells. It’s important that those with weakened immune systems make sure they take preventative measures in order to avoid being affected by any of the potential risks associated with getting non-hodgkins lymphoma.

Previous viral or bacterial infection: people who have had prior exposure to viruses or bacteria have a greater risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. (e.g. HIV, Epstein-Barr infection, the bacteria helicobacter pylori). It’s not entirely clear what the relationship is between these viruses and bacteria with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but one of the reasons why it increases risk is simply that someone who has recovered from a previous infection has a weakened lymphatic system.

Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins – is a serious risk factor for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These toxins can come from many sources, including occupational exposures to benzene, petrol fumes, and cadmium, as well as exposure to solvents in carpets, pesticides, herbicides, and formaldehyde in new furniture. It is important for individuals to learn about the dangers of specific chemicals or toxins and take steps to reduce their exposure if possible through measures such as wearing protective equipment and limiting their contact with these substances. People should also be aware of any potential exposure in their work environment and raise concerns with supervisors when necessary. Taking proactive steps can go a long way toward reducing the risk of developing this type of cancer.

Age: Most individuals who develop Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are over the age of 60; the older an individual is, the weaker their immune system becomes and, subsequently, the risk of developing diseases like Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma rises.

Being overweight or obese is one of the many risk factors associated with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Not only do those who are overweight or obese typically have a higher body fat percentage than those within a healthy weight range, but they are also more likely to have long-term conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. These chronic ailments can increase the risk of developing this type of cancer even further. It is important to maintain an ideal body weight in order to keep your risk low.

Smoking cigarettes is one of the primary risk factors for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This form of cancer begins in the lymphoid or immune system, and happens when cells abnormally multiply. In addition to increasing an individual’s chances of getting this type of cancer, smoking cigarettes can also make the disease more aggressive. It is important to note that secondhand smoke can also increase an individual’s chances in receiving a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, so it should be avoided as well. To minimize these risks, it is best that individuals do not smoke or expose themselves to secondhand smoke.

Radiation exposure has long been known to pose a risk factor to developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This can be due to direct exposure from radiation therapy treatments, or even living in close proximity to ionizing radiation sources like major power plants. It’s important that patients and those around them understand the risks associated with this kind of exposure and strive to minimize it wherever possible. In cases where radiation treatment is necessary, medical practitioners must ensure that safety measures are taken in order to limit adverse effects as much as possible. It is essential that we remain aware of the potential dangers of radiation in order to protect our health.

Family history is a significant risk factor to consider when determining the likelihood of developing non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Having close family members that have already been affected by the disease increases the likelihood of genetics playing a role in whether or not you may experience it yourself. It is important to discuss any family history in detail with your health care provider as genetics can help paint an accurate picture of personal risk factors associated with this type of cancer.

Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is an often challenging cancer to treat because of how late the symptoms usually appear in a patient. By the time that NHL is diagnosed in a patient, it’s likely that the tumour has spread to various lymph nodes throughout the body. Treating a cancer at a later, more advanced stage means that it will be more difficult for doctors to contain the tumour and treat it effectively. The symptoms of lymphoma can range from mild to severe depending on the individual and the stage of lymphoma. Some common symptoms include:

  • Swelling in the lymph nodes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever and night sweats
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Chest pain, coughing, or trouble breathing
  • Itching skin or a rash
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Feeling full after only a small amount of food
  • Recurring infections
  • Lumps in the neck, armpits, or groin area
  • Feeling unusually tired for long periods of time
  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
  • Bone pain and tenderness.

As the condition worsens and advances to later stages, individuals with NHL may experience more serious physical symptoms:

  • In certain cases, individuals experience a painful sensation in their lymph nodes after consuming alcohol.
  • When lymphoma affects the abdominal, bowel or stomach lymphatic tissue, fluid accumulation can cause swelling near the intestines which may lead to sensations of pressure, pain and other digestion-related issues such as diarrhea and indigestion.
  • An enlarged lymph node may lead to other signs, for example pressing against a vein resulting in swelling of an arm or leg, or pushing on a nerve inducing pain, numbness, and tingling sensations in any given limb.
  • Some individuals suffer from lower back pain of an unpredicted origin. It is speculated that this might be due to enlarged lymph nodes impinging on nerves in the region.
  • As lymphomas advance and malignant lymphocytes spread outside of the lymphatic system, the body loses its natural defense mechanisms against infections. The symptoms that arise may be mistaken for influenza, tuberculosis, other diseases such as infectious mononucleosis or different types of cancers.

NHL is a painful experience for many of those who suffer from it, but the good news is that with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, lymphoma can be successfully treated. That said, many people who develop NHL find themselves dealing with long-term consequences of their condition and the medical treatments they undergo, which can affect their personal life and make it impossible for them to return to their work.

Can Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma affect a Person’s ability to work?

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is a form of cancer that can have a negative impact on a person’s ability to work. Symptoms associated with NHL, such as nausea, fatigue, and infection, can leave a person feeling too exhausted or too unwell to perform their job duties. In addition, depending on the progression and severity of the cancer symptoms, NHL may lead to long-term disability, which impacts an individual’s ability to go to work and earn a living. Below are some particular reasons how Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma could affect a person’s occupational abilities:

Physical stress and fatigue of NHL treatment – going through cancer treatment for NHL is a trying experience for any individual. NHL treatment can entail chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and other treatments that can take a heavy toll on an individual’s body. The symptoms of lymphoma can cause extreme fatigue and physical exhaustion which may make it impossible for a person to carry out their daily activities or perform their job duties. Fatigue is incredibly detrimental to someone’s working ability, a condition that can lead to work disability through chronically missing work or not being able to work at all.

Mental and emotional effects of lymphoma – non-Hodgkin’s Lmphoma can take a toll on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. The shock and frustration of being diagnosed with NHL is enough to affect one’s ability to concentrate fully on their work, which is why many individuals with NHL suffer from mental health disorders like depression and anxiety that can take a toll on their productivity at work.

Work inconsistency – even for individuals who are able to complete their job duties while they are in the office, lymphoma treatment may require frequent trips to the hospital or doctor’s office. This can lead to work inconsistency, where an individual has to miss work regularly or leave early from work. Colleagues and managers may not understand the need for an individual with lymphoma to take these absences and it can lead to conflict at the workplace, making it an uncomfortable place for NHL sufferers to continue working.

Cognitive impairment – NHL treatment such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy and steroids can sometimes cause cognitive impairment, which can lead to memory loss, difficulty concentrating and other mental challenges that can prevent an individual from performing their job duties. This is particularly critical for people working in fields where these cognitive abilities are essential for them to be able to successfully carry out their working tasks.

Whether as the result of their perceived work disability, or because of the more permanent cognitive impairments mentioned above, lymphoma patients may eventually find themselves unable to work and ultimately require long-term disability benefits – and may need assistance from a lymphoma disability lawyer to ensure their rights are protected and that they receive the disability benefits they are entitled to. A lymphoma disability lawyer is experienced in dealing with long-term disability claims related to lymphoma and can help lymphoma patients navigate their way through the complex process of filing a disability claim.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Denied Long-Term Disability

For some claimants it can be difficult to prove that the NHL is a “total disability” which prevents you from working. In order to obtain long-term disability benefits in Ontario, you as the claimant must prove that you suffer form a total disability which prevents you from performing the substantial duties of your own employment – which is typically referred to as the “own-occ” provision. After two years, you must satisfy the disability insurer that you are unable to complete the duties of any occupation for which you may be reasonably suited by way of education, training and experience. Unfortunately many disability claims for NHL are denied by disability insurance companies for many reasons – some of which may include the following:

Insufficient medical evidence – your disability insurer will want evidence such as medical records, treatment plans, test results, etc. For disability claimants who may not have experience filing disability benefits claims, it’s not uncommon for claims to be denied on the basis of insufficient medical evidence. Our Hamilton disability lawyers have spoken with countless clients who have submitted what they thought was a complete disability benefits claims package, only to have it returned to them denied. This is a point of denial that can be easily resolved by working with an experienced lymphoma disability lawyer who understands the expectations and standards that disability benefits companies will be looking for in each disability benefits application.

Inability to provide a detailed description of limitations – your disability insurance company will want a clear understanding of how the lymphoma is impacting your ability to work. They may want to know what type of job you do, what tasks you can no longer perform as a result of lymphoma, etc. The success of your disability benefits claim will rest on whether or not you can prove that you meet the definition of “total disability,” which is that you are unable to perform the key duties of the profession for which you have been trained and have experience in doing. You may be asked to get written, authorized accounts from your supervisors and colleagues attesting to how your work performance has been affected by your condition.

Contradicting evidence – it is sometimes challenging to prove total disability with conditions like cancer, where your physical and mental condition may improve and worsen day by day. Based on circumstantial evidence showing that you are able to perform certain activities or complete tasks, your lymphoma disability benefits claim can be denied. Disability companies may employ different tactics to get this sort of information, including hiring medical doctors to say that they believe you’re able to continue working or pulling photos and videos from your social media that show you appearing to be physically fit or emotionally capable of doing your work.

They simply think you can work: Your disability benefits may be denied because your adjuster simply thinks you can work. Your adjuster may override your family doctor’s opinions and clinical directions and take the position that you can go back to work and “so something”. Many times, however, disability claims adjusters misinterpret the definition of “total disability” within long-term disability policies. As a result, they may deny your claim even though you are legally entitled to benefits.

If you suffer from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and have been denied your Denied Disability Benefits call us today.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and have been denied your disability benefits, it is important that you speak to our long-term disability lawyers today. We understand that lymphoma is a challenging condition to live with, and our knowledgeable lawyers can help get your disability beenfits back on track. Remember – the onus is on you to prove your disability. This means that you need to satisfy the burden of proof – which is the legal obligation to prove that your particular claim is true and deserving that a Judge declare you totally disabled as per the definition as set out in your long-term disability policy. To do so, you need experienced long-tem disability lawyer on your side to help fight for you.

Since 2003, Hamilton Disability Lawyer Matt Lalande has recovered tens of millions in compensation for disability claimants who are were going to the worst times of their lives. Stop struggling with a faceless insurance company – and call our Hamilton long-term disability lawyers to get your free consultation today.

We represent disability claimants all over Ontario – and our disability lawyers can help you get the compensation deserve you you. Our consultations are 100% free – and if you decide to work with our Hamilton disability lawyers, the fee is free. We do not charge our clients anything unless we win their case. We are happy to provide you the legal advice you need in order for you to make an informed decision about your own particular situation. Call us no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Southern Ontario region at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can send us a confidential email through our website – and we would be happy to explain your long-term disability rights and legal options to you, at no cost.

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5 FAQ SUMMARY

Can non-hodgkins lymphoma affect a person’s ability to work?

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can affect a person’s ability to work in several ways. Depending on the type of treatment received and the severity of the disease, people may experience extreme fatigue or pain that could limit their ability to perform physically demanding tasks or work long hours. Some treatments, such as chemotherapy, can cause nausea and other side effects that could also interfere with someone’s ability to work. Additionally, hospital visits or treatments may take away from the amount of time a person can dedicate to their job.

Can a person with non-hodgkins lymphoma get disability benefits?

Yes, a person with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may qualify for long-term disability benefits depending on the severity of their condition and their ability to work. To be eligible, applicants must meet certain criteria such as providing medical evidence from a doctor that establishes the diagnosis and prognosis. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate how their condition limits their ability to perform the duties of their job or any other job they could reasonably be expected to do.

How do I apply for long-term disability benefits

In general,you must provide an application and an attending physician statement which outlines your disability and why you are unable to complete the substantial duties of your own employment.

Does long-term disability deduct CPP?

Yes, if you are in receipt of long-term disability benefits, CPP is an offset – meaning that your monthly disability benefit will deduct your monthly CPP benefit. You cannot get both.

Is talking to a long-term disability lawyer free?

In most cases, talking to a long-term disability lawyer is free. Many lawyers offer free consultations and will be able to assess your case and explain the process to you prior to charging any fees. If a lawyer does charge for legal services, they will typically only do so after they have evaluated your case and determined that you have a strong claim. Additionally, many long-term disability lawyers will work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if they successfully secure benefits on your behalf.

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