Avoid These Six Common ERISA Disability Benefits Application Mistakes
Are you disabled and out of work? You may qualify for an employer-sponsored ERISA plan (Employee Retirement Income Security Act). With this plan, you can receive long-term disability benefits. Your chances of receiving these benefits hinge on the ERISA disability benefits application process. This entire process is challenging, and a single mistake could cost you your long-term benefits. It’s important, therefore, to have the help of an ERISA attorney at Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo, P.C.
Here are six common mistakes people make when filing an ERISA application and how you can avoid them.
#1: Assuming your claim has enough evidence if your employer backs you up.
Your employer does not pay your long-term disability benefits. That job belongs to the insurance company. Just because your employer believes you deserve your benefits doesn’t mean your claim go through. It’s a big mistake to assume that your employer’s opinion concerning your ability to work is sufficient to qualify for benefits. It’s up to the insurer to determine whether you meet the legal definition for disabled, based on the policy terms.
#2: Solely relying on your human resources department’s advice.
You will most likely get advice from your human resources department regarding your benefits. However, your human resources department is not trained in understanding insurance policies. They also have zero influence over insurers. A mistake people make is entirely following these human resources department’s advice. You are the only one that can take action when trying to obtain long-term disability benefits. Do not solely rely on your human resources department’s advice. Doing so could cost you your benefits.
#3: Not documenting your disability claim with more than just insurance company forms.
On your insurance forms, your doctor must answer specific questions. These questions are required by the insurance company. But you shouldn’t leave it at that. You need more information or evidence to prove your disability. Meet with your doctor or physician and explain the full terms of your insurance policy. You can even request a complete report from your doctor fully explaining how your disability hinders you from working. Sometimes doctors will charge for a report like that, however, it is entirely worth it in the long run. Never settle for the basic forms provided by the insurance policy. Your ERISA disability benefits application relies on these forms.
#4: Engaging in activities that contradict your disability.
When you submit an ERISA disability benefits application, the insurance company will be watching you. If you participate in activities that contradict your disability claim, you will look like you’re cheating the insurer. The insurance company will see these activities and then use them against you. The insurance company may even send you an activity log to complete. Your doctor will give you a list of activities you shouldn’t participate in. Follow that list carefully. Engaging in activities on that list will seem suspicious to the insurance company.
#5: Working with the insurance company’s lawyers to file for Social Security benefits.
If you plan to file an ERISA disability benefits application, you might have to file for Social Security benefits. The insurance company’s lawyers will offer assistance filing for these benefits. Think twice, though, before accepting that offer. These lawyers are in the pocket of the insurance company. Consequently, these lawyers often guide claimants into choosing disabilities on the Social Security benefits application that make it harder to prove long-term disability claims. Do not trust the insurance company’s lawyers; instead, seek the help of your personal ERISA attorney.
#6: Seeking guidance from a lawyer who doesn’t have experience in ERISA.
The ERISA disability benefits application is a complicated process. Many rules govern the law, from strict deadlines to acceptable evidence. Seeking council from a lawyer not experienced in ERISA jeopardizes your long-term benefits. You need a lawyer with both knowledge and expertise in this area of law.