Once you’re approved for your UNUM long term disability claim, you may feel as though you’ve crossed an important finish line. But in many cases, a UNUM disability claim approval is only the beginning of a much longer process. Learn more about the ins and outs of receiving disability benefits under a UNUM long term disability policy, as well as what UNUM claimants should know about “lifetime” policy provisions.
Approval Now, Denial Later
Whenever a UNUM disability claim is approved, this approval may last only as long as the average amount of time for recovery from the disabling condition. For example, UNUM may be able to predict that the average heart attack patient can return to work in three months, or the average hip replacement patient can return to work in eight weeks. Once this period has passed, UNUM will take a closer look at the file, often request more information from the claimant, and—depending on the response—deny future benefits absent some additional showing of ongoing disability.
During this time, UNUM also will evaluate whether a disability claimant could have, but did not, work in their chosen profession at any time while receiving disability benefits. It may deny future benefits if UNUM believes the claimant could have been working on at least a part-time basis.
UNUM disability claimants aren’t always aware of this process. UNUM sometimes conducts video surveillance of claimants who are at or near the end of their recovery period to see whether they appear to be functioning well enough to go back to work. A disability claimant with a knee injury who is seen heading out for a morning jog each day could raise some red flags with UNUM, even if this jog turns out to be just a block or two and doesn’t reflect the claimant’s true ability to return to the workforce.
When Does a UNUM Claim Re-evaluation Occur?
Though it would probably be inefficient for UNUM (or any other disability carrier) to re-evaluate all its active LTD claims each month, these carriers do have the right to do so—because each month brings a new disability payment, it also brings the right for the carrier to verify the claimant’s continued entitlement to this payment. Absent some guaranteed period of benefits, if, in UNUM’s opinion, a claimant no longer fits the policy definition of “disabled,” benefits may stop.
What UNUM Claimants Should Know About Lifetime Disability Provisions
Some UNUM policies offer the elusive “lifetime” provision, but its requirements are hard to meet. To be covered under most lifetime provisions, a disability claimant must prove that they were disabled before age 55 (or, for some policies, age 60) and that this disability continued through age 65. If both these prongs are proven, the claimant may continue to receive UNUM disability benefits until their death.
Avoiding Claim Denial on Re-evaluation
To reduce the risk of having a UNUM disability claim denied after an initial approval, claimants can take a few concrete steps:
(a) attend all medical appointments;
(b) avoid embellishing or understating the extent of the disability on UNUM’s claim documents; and
(c) understand the ins and outs of the claimant’s specific UNUM disability policy.
Having your ducks in a row when it comes to documenting your disability can rebut many of the arguments UNUM is likely to make if it attempts to later deny your LTD claim.
The prospect of a disability insurance denial can be intimidating, but claimants shouldn’t feel like they’re fighting this battle alone. At Dell & Schaefer, we’ve helped hundreds of disability claimants secure their UNUM disability claim benefits, and we can help you – so reach out to schedule your FREE consultation today.