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Schizoaffective Disorder & Long-Term Disability

Schizoaffective Disorder Lawyers in Hamilton, Serving all of Ontario

Sometimes suffering from a mental illness can cause more of a strain on an individual’s well-being than a serious physical injury. While physical wounds can heal quickly, some individuals with mental disorders may never return to their old self and may feel that they are confined to a lifetime of stress and suffering.

Do you suffer from Schizoaffective Disorder and have you been wrongfully denied your long-term disability benefits?

If you or a loved one is suffering from schizo-affective disorder, the financial burden can become overwhelming and difficult to manage. The bills begin to pile up and cost of treatment may rise, while the individual cannot work to earn an income to pay back those debts. This can add stress to an already complex and difficult situation.  If you or your loved one has recently been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and has been denied or cut-off long term disability, call our Hamilton disability lawyers today. We serve all of Ontario, and we have represented disabilty claimants at all stages, against every major carrier in the Country.

What is Schizo-Affective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a major psychiatric disorder that is similar to schizophrenia – in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions alongside symptoms of mood disorders such as bipolar disorder (Type I or II) or depression. In many cases, a schizo-affective disorder diagnosis may come as a result of an unknown condition within a clinical setting where the patient is exhibiting mixed symptoms from affective and psychotic disorders.

While there is no specific cause of schizo-affective disorder, health industry experts have determined that there could be a combination of factors that trigger the condition. These include genetics, complications from other mental illnesses, stressful events, or substance use/abuse.  Schizoaffective disorder, like schizophrenia, is not curable. It is eminently treatable and a somewhat manageable chronic illness, however its psychotic symptoms are often quite unpredictable.

Some common symptoms of schizo-affective disorder include:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Impaired cognitive or social function
  • Depression
  • Decline in personal hygiene or self-care
  • Suicidal thoughts

There are two types of schizo-affective disorder: bipolar type and depressive type.

Individuals with bipolar type schizo-affective disorder exhibit episodes of mania as well as major depression, while those with depressive schizo-affective disorder only exhibit episodes of major depression.

Schizoaffective Diagnosis

The DSM III-R introduced schizoaffective disorder in 1987 as a subtype of schizophrenia. The first real diagnostic measures for schizoaffective disorder required the persistence of psychotic symptoms in the absence of significant affective illness for at least 2 weeks.  Psychotic symptoms, depending on whether the schizoaffective disorder is bipolar or depressive, could involve delusions, hallucinations (auditory and visual) impaired communication, incoherence, unusual behavior, depression, periods of manic mood swings, problems at work, school or with social functioning and hygiene.

Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed in a person’s late teens to early 20s. However, schizoaffective disorder usually begins in a person’s teens or early adult hood but can develop well into a person’s 30s, or during their working years. We have represented clients that had developed schizoaffective disorder in their late 30s. In one case we represented in engineer who developed the onset of the mental illness at 38 years old, well into his career.

The diagnosis usually involves a major decline in social functioning, work or academic functioning, or self-care for at least a six-month period in addition, there are positive and negative symptoms that must be commonly present. Positive symptoms typically refer to symptoms that are present in persons with schizoaffective disorder and absent in persons who are not diagnosed with the mental illness. These type of symptoms can be hallucinations, delusions, thinking disturbances, fears etc. Negative symptoms are symptoms that are normally present in people who are not diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, and absent in those who are diagnosed with the disorder. For example, a person can suffer from blunted affect, apathy, lack of pleasure from activities that others enjoy, inattention ect.

The Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizo-Affective Disorder

Schizo-affective disorder is commonly associated with schizophrenia because individuals with the condition can exhibit some symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia tends to affect individuals by causing them to see or hear things that do not exist, giving them experiences of altered reality. While schizo-affective disorder may lead to these hallucinations, it mostly causes the individual to feel detached from reality and to experience stronger mood-based symptoms. Ultimately, schizophrenic individuals experience positive and negative symptoms of psychosis, while schizo-affective individuals experience a combination of symptoms that include mood disorders.

The methods of treatment are similar for both schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder. Both conditions may be treated with the use of antipsychotic medications, but schizo-affective individuals may also be prescribed mood stabilizing medications. Therapy sessions are also effective for both conditions using a variety of methods at the discretion of a psychiatrist.

Will I qualify for long-term disability benefits if I suffer from Schizoaffective Disorder?

Whether or not a person with schizoaffective disorder can claim long-term disability benefits depends on the wording of his or her policy.  You should speak to a long-term disability lawyer. There are countless policy scenarios, but typically, a claimant must be totally disabled from working or engaging in the substantial duties of his or her own job.

If you feel that your symptoms of delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonic behaviour, negative symptoms, bipolar symptoms, depressive symptoms or any other symptoms prevent you from completing the substantial duties of your own employment, despite being in a positive medical program and being treated with pharmacotherapy drugs you may qualify for long-term disability benefits.

After two years, typically a long-term disability policy changes definition. Most carriers such as Sunlife, Manulife, Great West Life, La Capital, Empire Life and other long-term disability carriers typically issue policies with very strict definitions of total disability after two years. Typically, a claimant must be wholly prevented from engaging in any and every gainful occupation for which she is reasonably fitted by education, training and experience as set forth in the policy.  This is quite a strict policy definition, and in fact, when most claimants are wrongfully cut off their long-term disability benefits.

Whether or not you qualify for long-term disability benefits after 24 months should be discussed with an experienced long-term disability lawyer who can assist in determining, along with medical professionals, whether you are totally disabled from working in any type of employment scenario in which you are reasonably fitted by education training and experience.

Does you or your loved one suffer from schizoaffective disorder? Have they been wrongfully cut off or denied their long-term disability benefits?

If you have been denied long-term disability benefits, you are likely unsure of how to proceed. You may feel as though your insurance company has denied you of the financial security you are relying on ,leaving your confused, stressed, and frustrated. Our Hamilton disability lawyers serve claimants all over Ontario and will be happy to go over your options with you and determine the best approach to appealing your denied claim.

For each of the long-term disability claimants we represent, we gather a team of medical, vocational, and occupational specialists and therapists in order to analyze your situation and provide reliable evidence of your condition and current situation.

Our Hamilton disability lawyers have been serving claimants all over Ontario since 2003. We have recovered millions of dollars and wrongfully denied benefits and have litigated against every major insurance carrier in Canada.

We offer free, confidential consultations and do not charge any fees until we have represented your case either in a settlement or through the court process. You are already suffering enough due to financial strain, and we want to ensure you have the confidence and comfort to pursue the right option for you. There is also no obligation to utilize our services after the consultation. If you are unable to travel, our Hamilton disability lawyers will be happy to speak on the phone to you or meet with you wherever you feel comfortable.

Contact our offices at 905-333-8888 or fill out a contact form on our website to request your free consultation. We will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours to set up your consultation and get started on your long-term disability claim.



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