Helpful Disability Claim Tips From Our ERISA Lawyers
Filing for disability insurance benefits can be a difficult decision, especially when you love your profession. However, when you’re unable to work due to an illness, injury, or chronic condition, short and long-term disability benefits can provide financial security and peace of mind. If you’re not sure where to start, Bryant Legal Group wants to help.
In this article, we outline several ways you can strengthen your ERISA claims and streamline the application process.
Don’t Minimize Your Symptoms When You Talk to a Doctor
One of the most important tips is simple: always be honest with your doctors. Your doctor appointments are not the time to sugarcoat your daily life. We frequently hear feedback from clients that they want their doctors to feel positive about their treatment and what they are doing to help them, so they minimize their symptoms. This is never a good idea.
The first reason is that your doctor needs an accurate report of your symptoms’ severity to provide the best treatment possible. If they don’t understand the significance of your conditions, your medical team cannot build a treatment plan that fully meets your needs.
Secondly, inaccurate statements can complicate your disability claim. If you always tell your doctors that you are feeling “better,” your medical records won’t reflect how you actually feel — and the insurance company will use the records to attack your credibility and deny your claim. Your doctor is not a mind reader and cannot necessarily tell how you feel if you are not honest with them.
Review Your Medical Records for Inaccuracies
Here’s why your medical records are the most critical evidence for any disability claim.
- X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic tests provide objective support for your claims.
- Your doctors’ notes track the progression and severity of your symptoms.
- A physical exam might note subtle evidence like muscle spasms and gait issues that can impact your ability to work.
- Your records may contain your doctors’ suggested work restrictions and limitations.
- Your treatment plan and prognosis can help the insurance company understand how long you’ll be unable to work.
You want those records to be as accurate as possible. Even if you have been honest with your doctor, mistakes and typos might still appear. That’s why it’s a good idea to review your records and consider pursuing correction if there are any errors. Both the Department of Health and Human Services and Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University provide helpful resources about correcting medical records.
Request Copies of Your Disability Insurance Plan Documents
Every disability insurance plan is different, and you need to understand your policy’s precise terms and conditions. This requires a careful analysis of your plan document and summary plan description (SPD), which contain your disability insurance plan’s:
- Definition of disability
- Waiting periods and filing deadlines
- Exclusions for certain conditions and diagnoses
- Limitations for pre-existing conditions, mental health disabilities, and substance abuse claims
- Appeal process
- Any other requirements for the payment of benefits
This information can help you and your disability insurance lawyer determine whether you qualify for benefits, when you should file your claim or appeal, and the value of your claim.
Under federal law, you have the right to receive copies of your plan documents from your disability plan administrator, usually your employer. Simply contact your human resources representative or disability insurance company and request copies. You can also request a copy of your disability insurance file if you’ve already applied for benefits and been denied.
Consult an ERISA Lawyer Before You Apply
Navigating a disability insurance claim isn’t an easy process, especially if your claim is covered by ERISA — a federal law that governs most employer-sponsored benefit plans. Unless you follow the claim and appeal procedures to perfection, you might lose out on your disability insurance benefits.
When you work with an ERISA lawyer, they will help you identify the timelines, procedures, and legal issues that impact your claims. Then, your legal team should build a comprehensive strategy aimed at getting you the benefits you deserve.
Bryant Legal Group: Respected Disability Insurance Lawyers
At Bryant Legal Group, our team has represented people with disabilities for decades. We provide our clients with practical advice, emotional support, and aggressive legal strategies.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.