Toronto, Canada (PressExposure) June 23, 2009 -- The prediction by the World Health Organization is that in less than twenty years, depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world. In general, recognized symptoms of depression include, anhedonia "" inability to experience pleasure or loss of capacity for pleasure, appetite disturbance with associated weight loss or gain, sleep disturbance (insomnia or oversleeping), psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, impaired concentration or indecisiveness, preoccupation with death or suicide.
A diagnosis of depression does not necessarily connote disability. For some, depression can be managed effectively with antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. For those who do not respond or respond only superficially to these treatment modalities, however, depression can be severely debilitating, affecting activities of daily living, social functioning and functioning in the workplace.
Disability carriers are increasingly being faced with claimants seeking disability benefits on the basis of mental illness. These types of claims pose their own unique challenges. The potentially subjective nature of the symptoms associated with mental illnesses such as depression can lead to disputes as to functional limitations and these types of disabilities are often approached with skepticism by insurers.
Disability insurance policies usually categorize disability into two subsets. "Own occupation" classifications, where the test applied is whether the insured is unable to perform his or her own occupation (the occupation in which he or she was engaged in at the time of commencement of disability) and "any occupation" classifications, where the scope is broadened and the insured must satisfy the insurer that he or she is disabled from performing any occupation.
Generally the "own occupation" test is time limited, often restricted to a two-year period. The "any occupation" test does not encompass any possible occupation but rather, has commonly been interpreted to mean an occupation for which an insured would be "reasonably suited" by means of his or her "training, education and experience".
The application of the "any occupation" test is subjective in that it is tailored to the individual's idiosyncratic "training, education and experience". As such, the determination, although a legal one, is largely based on the specific factual matrix including, the insured's education or lack thereof, age, work experience and medical condition . The interpretation of "total disability" by our courts has further circumscribed the "own occupation" and "any occupation" tests.