A Question of Ethics:  
When is it Time to File a Disability Insurance Claim?

The physician considering a disability insurance claim is faced with a difficult decision: is it really time to look after his or her own health, or should he or she just keep working through the pain?

On the one hand, a physician’s disability or impairment may be so severe that he or she sincerely doubts his or her ability to safely care for patients. The physician may already be working fewer shifts, seeking work accommodations, delegating tasks to his or her colleagues, and struggling to work around the disability.  He or she might genuinely fear that when the pain is at its worst, his or her patients’ health is at risk.

On the other hand, the mere pursuit of a disability insurance claim can be taxing.  Insurers often resort to ruthless tactics to undermine a medical professional’s credibility and tear holes in legitimate evidence of disability just so that they can deny the claim and save a dollar.

To complicate matters, many physicians have family members who depend on their income.  The potential for a prolonged disability insurance claim denial—and the resulting financial and emotional distress—can be daunting.

When placed in this position, a physician should evaluate whether he or she is still physically able to accomplish the selfless goals that drew him or her to the profession.  When the pain makes that impossible, it might be time to pursue a disability insurance claim.  This is a difficult decision to make, but in instances where a physician is truly disabled, making the decision to stop working can demonstrate a deep commitment to patient care.

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