Private long-term disability insurance claims, either individual or group claims, are only available to a tiny percentage of people who actually have disability insurance coverage. Yet insuring your ability to continue to earn a living in relative terms can be more important than insuring your house or car. Loss of your ability to earn a living can result in a catastrophic economic hit to a family which would far exceed the loss of a home or a car. Yet relatively few people take steps to insure their income against illness or injury. Even for those who have such insurance coverage, filing a claim for benefits can present a complex mess of paperwork, vocational employment information and medical documentation.
If you need to make a claim when your coverage is through your employer, things become significantly more complex. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal statute that imposes specific rules on employer-sponsored benefits, like long-term disability insurance.
There are a few reasons why you might need help from a lawyer when making an ERISA disability benefits claim.
You can’t afford paperwork mistakes
Technical errors on paperwork and timeline errors when you submit documents can delay your claim or even compromise your right to get benefits. You need to follow the established rules governing the policy while also remaining aware of your rights and obligations under ERISA.
Rather than trying to learn all of that yourself, you might want to consider outsourcing the legwork to a legal professional who can handle the paperwork, anticipate the issues and understands how these claims are evaluated by insurance carriers.
You don’t need the stress of handling it on your own
Long-term disability benefits are only an option for those with major medical conditions. You want to focus as much of your time and energy on recovering and maintaining your health rather than on red tape.
Lawyers can also manage negotiations on your behalf, which can be important in a large claim, like a long-term disability claim. Insurance providers may employ aggressive tactics to push people into accepting lower benefit amounts than they could possibly receive. They count on you wanting to settle quickly because of the stress the claim causes. Insurance companies have lawyers to guide them every step of the way, because if the company sees an opportunity to avoid paying the claim, it will. This may not seem right, but it is the reality. We should have no illusions about it.
Stress has a known negative impact on recovery times and overall health. You can reduce personal stress related to an insurance claim and the condition that causes it, by having a professional handle the claims process on your behalf.
Attorneys can also help because they are then ready to go if you need to file an appeal. They know the next steps to take and how to gather the necessary documentation to help you win your fight for benefits. Having the right support will help you make the most of your claim and avoid common pitfalls when you need long-term disability benefits. Frankly, the stakes are too high to go it alone.