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Scared about disability being revoked
Apr 22, 2011

Doc....I was recently approved for long-term disability from my private disability insurance through work. I am 54 yrs old. I have been HIV+ for 25 years, and while I have 500 t-cells and am undetectable, I suffer from diarehha, fatigue, loss on concentration etc. I also recently had a heart attack and was diagnosed with moderate to severe heart disease and a moderate hypertrophic left ventricle. I am on 12 medications. I have become depressed and have severe anxiety, all now being treated

I worked 65 hrs wk, 100k miles of air travel and executive responsibility. I simply could not do it any more and applied for disability and was approved.

It has been a couple months and was told in my approval letter that the insurance company will check in on my status in Sept. Is this normal? I am so afraid of having my disability revoked and then find myself with no job, no disability and up the creek.

A few questions...would an insurance company be so cruel as to approve me then disapprove me? Or can i feel comfortable that with HIV, side effects of medication, a heart attack and and heart disease that I will not be challenged. I am worried about working hard to get healthier if fear that it may be viewed as I am better. I want to move on with my life in a healthier stress-free approach, but am having a hard time letting go of my fear of being terminated.

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for all the work you do!!!!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

". . . Would an insurance company be so cruel as to approve me and then disapprove me?" Unfortunately the answer is yes. Insurance companies are ruthless and should not be relied upon to behave ethically, morally or compassionately when it comes to paying out claims. That said, from your description of your ailments there should be absolutely no question you qualify for permanent medical disability. If possible, I would suggest you consult with an HIV-knowledgable disability lawyer. Have all correspondence from the insurance company go through the lawyer's office. You should also alert your HIV specialist of your situation so that his chart notes don't give the insurance company any ammunition to revoke your disability claim. Regarding the insurance company's notification that they will check on your status in September, this is indeed routine and to be expected. They will require you to fill out forms every six months. Some will require an attending physician statement as well. Your disability lawyer can help you complete your form. Most HIV specialists are quite knowledgeable about and have considerable experience completing disability insurance forms. It would be helpful if your HIV specialist listed your problem list in every chart note. Symptoms, such as fatigue and inability to concentrate, are particularly important to note, as they are independent of changes in CD4 counts, viral load or other laboratory parameters that may improve with treatment. You've been HIV infected for 25 years and have significant heart disease. There would have to be a special place in hell reserved for the insurance adjustor who revokes your claim. By the way, if they do revoke your claim, you could sue to have it reinstated and you would win. However, that process could take six months or longer an can be costly, so it's best not to have to do that.

Good luck! Focus on getting healthier and being as well as possible. A competent disability lawyer and HIV specialist should be able to keep the evil insurance company at bay and assure they live up to their obligation.

Dr. Bob



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