One question on the top of everyone’s mind about their long term disability insurance benefit is, “How long does a disability insurance claim take to process?” The answer is a common one: It all depends. There are many variables that influence how long it takes.
Everyone thinks the delay is because the insurance company is just dragging its feet. Although this is partially true, it is also true that the insurer has a responsibility to be sure it has all the necessary information so it can perform what is supposed to be a fair review according to the requirements of ERISA.
Two factors that influence the processing time are the elimination period specified in the policy and how much time it takes to provide the disability insurance company the information it needs.
The Elimination Period
The elimination period is the amount of time you must be disabled before you can collect long term disability (LTD) benefits. During the elimination time, the insurance company will not pay you disability benefits. The elimination period is often 90 days, but it varies with policies. It can be 180 days, 26 weeks, or any time chosen by the insurance company and stated in your policy.
If your employer has short term disability (STD) benefits, the short-term disability period may be the same as the elimination period. This happens, but there is no guarantee. Again, each policy is different, and the policy language is what controls.
Based on our experience, assuming a 90-day elimination period, that does not mean your claim will be processed and you will receive a benefit check on day 91. Even if your claim is processed in a timely fashion and approved by the end of the 90-day elimination period, you will not be paid the benefit until 30 days later. So, with a 90-day elimination period, the soonest you can expect to receive a benefit check is 120 days after the date you say you became disabled. This is because the disability insurance carriers pay the same way employers pay: after the work is done.
Delays Due to Submission of Incomplete Evidence
One tricky aspect of filing a claim is that you are supposed to be out of work for 90 days, the elimination period, before you are eligible to collect LTD benefits. But how do you know at 30 days off work that you will need to be off for another 60 days so should apply for benefits?
Our disability attorneys have been doing this for a long time and we know that what the insurance company asks you for in its basic claim form is almost never enough information. They do this purposely so they can ask you to provide more information which will extend the time for them to process your claim. It is a typical delaying strategy.
It is a tricky situation. The insurance company has a responsibility to be sure it has all the information it needs to do a review. On the other hand, its claim form generally does not ask for all the information it needs. Even though it is difficult to wait for the payment, when your claim is approved and paid, the pay will be retroactive to day 91. Providing all the necessary information, even if it means a longer wait, is important in order to avoid a disability insurance claim denial.
A disability insurance attorney will know what detailed information the insurance company requires and can help expedite the process by submitting all necessary information with the initial claim form.
How Dell & Schaefer Can Help
At our disability insurance law firm of Dell & Schaefer, a disability insurance lawyer can help you apply for benefits. You can also watch our videos instructing you about how to apply for disability benefits. If everything is done perfectly, you can expect a decision from the insurance company within 60 days of submitting your claim. If you watched this video or are reading this blog, and have been denied, or are past 60 days and still waiting for a decision, or have any question at all about your disability claim, contact us for help.
We offer a free consultation. First, we ask for a copy of your insurance policy. If you have a denied disability claim, we would like to see a copy of your denial letter. We will review the document or documents and inform you at the consultation whether we can help you.
We work with claimants all over the country and personal office visits are unnecessary. Call us at (888) 699-9438. You can generally speak with a disability attorney the same day. We look forward to the opportunity of discussing your claim with you.
Meanwhile, you are welcome to watch our videos on our YouTube Channel. The videos provide information on various topics related to disability claims and you may find them helpful.