On Disability and the Insurance System

I’ve had people asking me for some time to talk about disability and the LCMS insurance system. I have hesitated to do so, because I want to focus on health and healing and God’s forgiveness in Christ. I don’t want this blog to serve as a place to, um, complain about troubles and trials in our system. I’m not going to do this.

But I have been convinced that it would be helpful to talk about the LCMS insurance and disability plans, and how it actually works for pastors, church workers, and their families as they struggle with mental illness.

So that’s what we’re going to talk about this week.

What questions do you have?

-DMR

16 thoughts on “On Disability and the Insurance System”

  1. LCMS pastor now customer services representative for a telecommunications company back again. It seems that the insurance system is reactive rather than proactive when it comes to the mental health of church workers.

    I had to travel 60 miles away to find a counselor. I wanted a male with a terminal degree and not some “pastoral” counselor who was not well versed in depression or the physiology of mental illness.

    Yes, a modest level of antidepressant has helped along with psychotherapy. However, I have been quite guarded among fellow clergy. You are viewed poorly, at least in my location, if you need any kind of counseling…your just not trusting God enough.

    Unfortunately, the devil and sin does have consequences in the material world. I thank God that He has seen it fit to get me some assistance and perspective on depression. I am vastly better now than I was two years ago. Yes, medication has helped so has psychotherapy and prayer and the healing power of Christ.

    I do pray every day that God would see it in His will to return me to parish ministry.

  2. LCMS pastor now customer services representative for a telecommunications company back again. It seems that the insurance system is reactive rather than proactive when it comes to the mental health of church workers.

    I had to travel 60 miles away to find a counselor. I wanted a male with a terminal degree and not some “pastoral” counselor who was not well versed in depression or the physiology of mental illness.

    Yes, a modest level of antidepressant has helped along with psychotherapy. However, I have been quite guarded among fellow clergy. You are viewed poorly, at least in my location, if you need any kind of counseling…your just not trusting God enough.

    Unfortunately, the devil and sin does have consequences in the material world. I thank God that He has seen it fit to get me some assistance and perspective on depression. I am vastly better now than I was two years ago. Yes, medication has helped so has psychotherapy and prayer and the healing power of Christ.

    I do pray every day that God would see it in His will to return me to parish ministry.

  3. My husband is a pastor and I think he is terribly depressed. He simply won’t seek any care because he’s afraid that if a depression diagnosis goes on our insurance that it will compromise his ability to get a call or to have privacy regarding his care. How confidential is all of this really?

  4. My husband is a pastor and I think he is terribly depressed. He simply won’t seek any care because he’s afraid that if a depression diagnosis goes on our insurance that it will compromise his ability to get a call or to have privacy regarding his care. How confidential is all of this really?

  5. LCMS pastor now customer service representative (CSR) for a telecommunications company back again. The confidentiality is there. No fellow clergy knew I was on medication or seeing a therapist until I revealed it.
    Unfortunately, it appears as though the District Presidents and local lay leaders want to sweep many things away. The navigation through depression rests with the worker. There doesn’t seem to be any walking together through the valley of the shadow of death for the church worker.

    Until recently, the last month, I finally had another pastor tell me that many times it is the local parish that is ignorant when it comes to the spiritual and mental well being of the church worker. I asked him if it was true of the District and the Synod as a whole, he indicated probably and it would be a good PhD dissertation.

    I just thought I was a poor pastor because it seemed like every meeting (council, elders, name your committee/board) was going into a den of darkness where the energy vampires lived and sucked the life right out of you. This fellow pastor told me it wasn’t my responsibility to keep the meeting focused or to hold the parish together no matter what the lay leadership thought.

    He then told me to read up on Revelation 2-3 (The seven letters to the seven churches). It was good reading but one has to be careful that the old Adam doesn’t come out and smile too much and wish for God to get them. One still has to lift up the seven churches in prayer and ask the Lord of the Church to bless the Church.

    I also read up on Acts 7 (Stephen before the Sanhedrin) and it hit home this time. Why would sinful humans, this one included, want to fully uderstand and come to terms with God’s magnificent deliverance in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Isn’t it better to blame…oh wait, there’s that old Adam again! LOL

  6. LCMS pastor now customer service representative (CSR) for a telecommunications company back again. The confidentiality is there. No fellow clergy knew I was on medication or seeing a therapist until I revealed it.
    Unfortunately, it appears as though the District Presidents and local lay leaders want to sweep many things away. The navigation through depression rests with the worker. There doesn’t seem to be any walking together through the valley of the shadow of death for the church worker.

    Until recently, the last month, I finally had another pastor tell me that many times it is the local parish that is ignorant when it comes to the spiritual and mental well being of the church worker. I asked him if it was true of the District and the Synod as a whole, he indicated probably and it would be a good PhD dissertation.

    I just thought I was a poor pastor because it seemed like every meeting (council, elders, name your committee/board) was going into a den of darkness where the energy vampires lived and sucked the life right out of you. This fellow pastor told me it wasn’t my responsibility to keep the meeting focused or to hold the parish together no matter what the lay leadership thought.

    He then told me to read up on Revelation 2-3 (The seven letters to the seven churches). It was good reading but one has to be careful that the old Adam doesn’t come out and smile too much and wish for God to get them. One still has to lift up the seven churches in prayer and ask the Lord of the Church to bless the Church.

    I also read up on Acts 7 (Stephen before the Sanhedrin) and it hit home this time. Why would sinful humans, this one included, want to fully uderstand and come to terms with God’s magnificent deliverance in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Isn’t it better to blame…oh wait, there’s that old Adam again! LOL

  7. How does one know whether or not one’s affliction with depression warrants disability status? Does a doctor make this judgment? An insurer? Does one have to accept such a judgment once made? If adjudged disabled with depression what happens to one’s congregation for the months of recovery that may be required? No circuit counselor could be expected to tend to a vacant pulpit week after week?

  8. How does one know whether or not one’s affliction with depression warrants disability status? Does a doctor make this judgment? An insurer? Does one have to accept such a judgment once made? If adjudged disabled with depression what happens to one’s congregation for the months of recovery that may be required? No circuit counselor could be expected to tend to a vacant pulpit week after week?

  9. Several years ago my doctor determined that I was disabled because of long-standing depression. It was the worst day I’d known. Within two days it was the greatest relief I’d known. The Concordia plans are not easy to navigate and getting permission and clarification and approvals was often a full-time job for my wife. But we made it through. If your doctor or counselor can relate with both your church leadership and your disability holder, that was a help for me. But the paperwork is disheartening at a time you can barely think. There are people who will help, if you keep looking for them to guide you through the maze.

  10. Several years ago my doctor determined that I was disabled because of long-standing depression. It was the worst day I’d known. Within two days it was the greatest relief I’d known. The Concordia plans are not easy to navigate and getting permission and clarification and approvals was often a full-time job for my wife. But we made it through. If your doctor or counselor can relate with both your church leadership and your disability holder, that was a help for me. But the paperwork is disheartening at a time you can barely think. There are people who will help, if you keep looking for them to guide you through the maze.

  11. The blog is not dead. I simply haven’t had the energy to write. It ebbs and flows. Hopefully it will flow again soon.

    -DMR

  12. The blog is not dead. I simply haven’t had the energy to write. It ebbs and flows. Hopefully it will flow again soon.

    -DMR

  13. Lets face it, after a while, depression and writing about being depressed gets pretty…well how do you say it, depressing.

    Sometimes it is nice to talk about something positive, redemption and life. I’ve heard the quote that depression is constanting looking inward on oneself with no regard to others. Think about it.

  14. Lets face it, after a while, depression and writing about being depressed gets pretty…well how do you say it, depressing.

    Sometimes it is nice to talk about something positive, redemption and life. I’ve heard the quote that depression is constanting looking inward on oneself with no regard to others. Think about it.

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