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Study says stress of applying for injury benefits slows recovery

Doctors and scientists have long known that stress can have a negative impact on a person’s health. Now researchers have found that the stress caused by applying for compensation after a workplace injury actually slows the healing process.

That’s the conclusion of a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The results are likely not a tremendous surprise to injured Newark workers who have gone through the claims process for workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability Insurance. 

There’s little doubt that applying for SSDI can be stressful. The forms and processes can be complicated and the wait for a decision can be a long one.

Most applicants have their initial claim denied, which then puts an appeals process in motion. This is when many people find the assistance of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney so helpful.

The Journal article about the Australian study involved a survey of more than 1,000 workers injured on the job between 2004 and 2006. Researchers then followed up with 33 percent of the workers six years later.

About a third of the workers said they had experienced high levels of stress caused by confusing claims requirements. Another third reported that the slow pace of the claims process caused anxiety and stress and still others said that the required multiple medical exams caused stress as well.

Researchers said those who reported high levels of stress also experienced longer period of recovery, greater levels of disability and were more likely to endure depression.

The authors of the study note that redesigning compensation claims processes could reduce both the level of stress experienced by claimants and the expenditures by the agencies involved. 

Source: JAMA Psychiatry, "Relationship Between Stressfulness of Claiming for Injury Compensation and Long-term Recovery," Genevieve M. Grant, LLB, PhD; Meaghan L. O’Donnell, PhD; Matthew J. Spittal, PhD; Mark Creamer, PhD; David M. Studdert, LLB, ScD, MPH, Feb. 12, 2014

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