What is malingering?

Workers injured on the job typically collect workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical costs and replace a portion of their wages as they are off work recovering. Sometimes, employers or insurance companies accuse injured workers of “malingering.” A Chicago workers’ compensation attorney from Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates can help if you have been accused of malingering. Your attorney will answer all your questions, from “What is malingering?” to “How can I prove I’m not a malinger?” and fight to protect you from false accusations and penalties.

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What does the word “malingering” mean?

According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), “malingering” involves falsifying or exaggerating the symptoms of a mental or physical illness to receive external benefits. These benefits could include avoiding work responsibilities, securing drugs, avoiding trial or military service, extending paid leave, or workers’ compensation payments. To paraphrase, someone who is “malingering” inflates or fakes symptoms of illness or injury to obtain a benefit.

How is malingering different from factitious disorder?

Some people invent illnesses or injuries without seeking a tangible secondary benefit. These individuals are not malingerers. Rather, they are demonstrating “factitious disorder.” The motivating factor is the distinction between malingering and factitious disorder.

Malingerers have a specific motive for creating or inflating their symptoms, and that motive is the secondary or “external” advantage of avoiding work, collecting workers’ compensation, or getting some other gain. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the motivation for a factitious disorder is “presumed to be unconscious and is related to the desire to assume the sick role.”

How do you know if someone is malingering?

Accusations of malingering must be backed by evidence. Sometimes, employers or insurance companies hire investigators to implement surveillance, taking photos or video footage of you without your awareness. They hope to catch you in situations that put your claims of injury into question.

They may also demand you undergo a medical evaluation with an independent medical examiner (IME). Though these practitioners are supposed to provide objective findings, unfortunately, many of them have connections with insurance companies.

If your employer or insurance company has leveled an accusation against you, or you face any other workers’ compensation complications, consult with a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney from Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates right away. We can help prepare you for your evaluation and work to protect you from unfair claims of malingering.

Signs of malingering

The motive of a secondary gain must be present for a person to be diagnosed as a malingerer, but more evidence is required when determining whether someone is a malinger. The NLM describes common behaviors of malingers, which include:

  • Significant complaining about the condition until the secondary benefit is received, after which the complaints stop
  • Failure to comply with treatment
  • Inconsistencies when given a prolonged history of the condition
  • Demonstrating exaggerated symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, for psychiatric conditions
  • Trying, but failing, to present a flat affect
  • Presenting a disheveled appearance and hostile behavior
  • Showing substantial insight into the illness

We’ll protect your name and your benefits

When an employer or insurance company accuses you of malingering, they are attacking your character, questioning your integrity, seeking to deny you of your rightful benefits, and putting you in a stressful legal and financial position. Charges of malingering are charges of fraud, and convictions come with serious penalties. To fight back against these attacks, call Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates at (800) 985-1819 or send an electronic message. An experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney from our team will meet with you for a free consultation and help you determine the best way forward.