Lyme Disease is difficult to diagnose. Although there are some laboratory tests that can confirm the diagnosis, the condition is mainly diagnosed clinically. As a result, insurance companies often sieze upon the opportunity to argue that there is not objective proof of disability.
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of an infected tick. A person may be aware of the bite; however, he may not be aware that the tick was infected.
In its early stages, Lyme Disease may be a mild illness with flu like symptoms such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain. However, these symptoms usually do not appear immediately after the bit but may take anywhere from one to two weeks to develop. In some instances a rash around the bite site may be obvious, but it is usually not a concern because it is not painful. Since the symptoms mirror so many other diagnoses the disease is often misdiagnosed, and therefore, remains untreated. The symptoms are generally mild and can wax and wane and thus, the disabling symptoms of the disease may not become apparent until later in life.
Of particular concern with Lyme Disease are the neurological abnormalities that can accompany the physical symptoms. These neurological symptoms can be subtle but are frequently the cause of disability. They include numbness, pain, paralysis of the facial muscles, fever, headache, neck stiffness. Some individuals with a diagnosis of late chronic Lyme Disease are more susceptible to developing varying degrees of permanent joint and/or nervous system damage.
Insurance comapnies target these claims for denial because
(1) the cause of the disabling condition is remote and often not diagnosed. A tick bite suffered early in life and which was not disabling will become disabling years afterward when the permanent joint and/or nervous system damage becomes obvious; or
(2) insurance companies limit these claims to two years by classifying them as being based on “self-reported symptoms.”
In truth these claims are not solely based on self-reported symptoms and there are strategies to avoid these limitations in coverage.