A question we are often asked is, “Do I need a lawyer for a long-term disability claim?” The short answer is, “Yes.” We say that for good reasons, not just because we are disability insurance lawyers.
Having a lawyer involved from the beginning shows the insurance company that you are serious about this claim. Companies treat an attorney differently than they treat an insured. The company knows it needs to do everything by the book. The claims representatives make sure they cross all their T’s and dot all their I’s.
It is true that some claims get approved without attorneys. On the other hand, some of our clients have told us about information they received that was incorrect. Some have even felt threatened. That will not happen when you have a lawyer involved from the beginning who communicates with the insurance company on your behalf.
How Insurance Companies Work
Often, a person is out on short-term disability (STD) before they apply for LTD benefits. On the insurance side of the process, it is almost as though they have a ticking clock on when you are expected to return to work.
The claims representatives actually have a manual that tells them when you are expected to return to work after a certain surgical procedure or medical condition. This can be a real problem if your STD policy is administered by the same insurance company that administers your LTD policy.
For example, if you have a Hartford policy. Hartford administers the policy for your employer who is the one that actually pays your benefits when you are out on STD. When STD turns to LTD, the insurance company is then the one who pays the benefits. The company may even deny your claim for STD because it knows that may be a step in the process to LTD and the company does not want to spend its own money on paying you LTD benefits.
The focus even when you have been granted STD benefits is to “get this person back to work” because the manual says you should be back to work. So, your LTD claim may be denied even though you have presented the same information that was used when the company approved your STD claim.
What a Disability Attorney Does to Help Get Your LTD Claim Approved
Whether you are eligible to collect long-term disability (LTD) benefits depends on the language of your policy. The policy may seem to you to be straight forward. You look at it and think, “I paid for this policy out of my payroll. I’m entitled to these benefits. I should get them until I am 65 years old!”
We start with reviewing the language of your policy. This is key to knowing what the company will want from you in order to approve your claim. Receiving benefits is far from automatic.
The application process is the critical stage of the process. We have been doing this a long time and we know what the insurance companies are looking for, and that is more than just filling in the blanks on the claims form they provide you. If you make one little mistake in the application problem, and mistakes are easy to make, your claim will likely be denied.
Generally, if you just file the form, the company will respond by asking you for more information. This process may go back and forth for weeks. If you hire us as your disability lawyer, we know what they want. We send everything in together, all your medical records, supporting physician statements, and other documentation of your claim.
If your claim is still denied, you need an attorney to pursue your appeal. If the appeal is denied, then you have the option of filing a lawsuit.
Whatever stage your claim is at, call us at Dell & Schaefer at 888-699-9438. We will ask you to send us a copy of your disability policy. We will review it and the circumstances of your case and will explain to you in a free consultation if we think we can help.
We have a lot of information available on our website you can review. Subscribe to our videos on our YouTube channel which provide you even more information. We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.