Can the Long-Term Disability Insurance Company Take My Social Security Backpay?
If you’re on long-term disability (LTD), your insurance company might encourage you to apply for Social Security disability benefits. The company may even offer to connect you with a representative who will file your application and appeals. However, the insurance company isn’t doing this out of kindness — the company wants to reduce your LTD benefits and recover some (or all) of its payments.
While you may have to repay the disability insurance company, don’t panic. You have a variety of options, and a lawyer at Bryant Legal Group can guide you through the calculations and decision-making process.
Many LTD Policies Contain Social Security Offset Provisions
If you read your LTD policy or summary plan description (SPD), you’ll likely find several terms and conditions involving Social Security benefits. First, the plan might insist that you file for Social Security disability benefits once you become eligible for long-term disability. Second, it may claim an offset for any Social Security benefits you and your dependents receive.
Suppose your LTD policy pays you $2,000 per month in benefits. If the Social Security Administration approves your disability claim, and you receive $1,500 in disability benefits each month, the insurance company will reduce your LTD payments to $500. Many insurance companies aggressively enforce these provisions.
You May Have to Fight for Your Social Security Benefits
According to data from the Social Security Administration, that agency denies the majority of disability applications. Between 2007 and 2016, the administration only approved 33% of the applications it received. That means most claimants must go through a time-intensive appeal process before they get the benefits they deserve.
During a Social Security appeal, you must first file a Request for a Reconsideration. The administration will review your claim again and either approve or deny your benefits. If it again denies your claim, you’ll need to file a Request for Hearing.
At that point, a local Social Security hearing office, called an Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), will receive your file, assign a judge, and schedule a hearing. In Chicago, it typically takes 12 months for ODAR to assign a hearing date. If the administrative law judge denies your claim again, you can also file additional appeals.
When everything is said and done, many Social Security claimants wait years before they get a final decision on their claim. However, the administration must pay past-due benefits to those who successfully appeal their claims. While this backpay would be a welcome financial resource for many people, your LTD policy’s offset provisions also apply to retroactive Social Security benefits.
Should I Work With the LTD Company’s Recommended Disability Firm?
Sometimes, disability insurance companies encourage people to use their preferred disability representatives, but this isn’t always a good idea. The Social Security Administration lets non-attorneys represent claimants during the initial stages of a Social Security claim. While these non-attorney representatives don’t have the same level of training, skill, and experience as a lawyer, they charge the same fees.
At Bryant Legal Group, we only handle a select number of Social Security claims and those claims are generally in conjunction with long term disability or other benefit claims. We believe that every claimant should hand select their Social Security attorney and not rely on their LTD company’s recommendations. That way, you can find a skilled local attorney to guide you through the complicated process of filing a claim for benefits or an appeal.
You May Have Repayment Options
When you receive a Social Security offset letter, the disability insurance company will typically include a form with your repayment options. Depending on the terms of your disability insurance policy, these might include:
- A single lump-sum payment
- Incremental deductions from your monthly LTD payment
- Withholding your LTD payments until you’ve fully reimbursed the company
While many people would rather not write the insurance company a large check, it can be hard to decide between these processes.
At Bryant Legal Group, we help our clients weigh their repayment options and confirm the exact amount that must be repaid. Sometimes, disability insurance companies make mistakes in their calculations. We can help you understand exactly how much Social Security backpay you owe your insurer.
Bryant Legal Group: Guiding Individuals Through Their Disability Claims
If you have questions about Social Security offsets and LTD benefits, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced lawyer. At Bryant Legal Group, we help our clients navigate their disability insurance claims and verify any offsets claimed by the insurance company.
Average wait time until hearing held report (2019, July). Social Security Administration. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html
Outcomes of applications for disability benefits (2017). Social Security Administration. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2017/sect04.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.