Whether you’re considering filing a long term disability claim with Northwestern Mutual, have recently received a denial letter, or are just hoping to keep your current monthly disability benefits, it’s a good idea to do your homework before you contact Northwestern. Although this insurance carrier tends to be far more reasonable in handling claims than some other disability carriers can be, qualifying for long term disability benefits can still be an involved process. Read on for some tips and tricks to help obtain and protect your Northwestern Mutual long term disability insurance benefits.
Northwestern’s Attention to Detail Can Make Qualifying for Benefits Difficult
Some disability insurance carriers have a reputation for denying claims out of hand, giving the claim form and medical records a good look only after the claimant has filed an appeal. Northwestern Mutual doesn’t take this tactic but instead tends to take a very detail-oriented and methodical approach to claims. This can sometimes make qualifying for benefits difficult, as Northwestern will often request copious medical records and physician statements.
Northwestern Mutual will then pass along your long term disability claim form to a specialist who is qualified to evaluate the condition for which you’re seeking disability benefits. This means it’s even more important to submit a comprehensive, thoroughly-documented claim, as Northwestern will go through your claim file with a fine-toothed comb.
Make Sure Your Medical Records Meet Northwestern’s Requirements
One of the most important components of your long term disability claim is your medical file. To Northwestern, just like all long term disability insurance carriers, your claim is only as good as it appears on paper – and if you haven’t been to the doctor more than a handful of times in the past few years, it’s unlikely that your current medical records will provide sufficient proof that you’re disabled enough to qualify for benefits. Your records must show not only what you’ve been diagnosed with, but also how this diagnosis limits you from performing certain activities.
This need for thorough medical records persists even after your disability claim is approved. Claimants who stop attending regular medical appointments after they’ve been approved for disability could find that their benefits are short-lived – this approval is conditioned on the claimant’s current disability status, so each new month essentially presents a new benefits period.
Along With Your Medical Records, Consider Keeping a Journal
A symptom or pain journal can be a great addition to your medical records, as it provides a more day-to-day insight into how your disability limits you. Many disabilities, particularly those involving musculoskeletal issues or chronic pain, may wax and wane; that is, you could feel good enough to put in a full eight hours of work on Monday but be unable to get out of bed by Wednesday. Keeping track of these patterns can show Northwestern Mutual that you’re unable to hold down steady employment, even if you’re feeling and functioning normally on your good days.
Your Attending Physician Statement and Addendums Are Important
Another important aspect of your claim for benefits is the attending physician statement. This is a statement prepared by your physician (or primary specialist) that explains in detail how your disability impacts your life and what type of work, if any, you may be able to perform. This statement helps Northwestern Mutual evaluate whether you qualify as “disabled” under the terms of your disability policy.
It can be tough to fit everything Northwestern Mutual needs to know in the space provided on the attending physician form. Generally, it’s a good idea to include an attachment or addendum with a more detailed statement. However, you’ll still want to tread carefully; you must have a reason to expand your answer, and with Northwestern Mutual’s detail-oriented claim handlers, simply repeating facts that are included elsewhere in your medical records or on your claim form won’t get you far.
At Dell & Schaefer, our experienced disability insurance attorneys handle every step of a long term disability claimant’s claim with Northwestern Mutual, helping claimants secure and maintain their disability benefits over the long haul. Don’t go into this process alone – partner with a legal team that has already helped thousands of Northwestern Mutual claimants. Give us a call to schedule your FREE consultation with one of our long term disability insurance attorneys today.