If you have long-term disability (LTD) insurance and are unable to work, you should consult with an expert LTD lawyer as soon as possible to improve your chances of success. Filing a long-term disability claim, particularly if you have employer-provided group coverage, is a risky procedure for the unrepresented disability applicant. A single missed deadline, incorrectly filled paperwork or incorrectly stated word to a claims adjuster might jeopardize your long-term disability compensation.
What Can a lawyer for Long-Term Disability Do for Me?
Employer-provided group LTD insurance is controlled by ERISA, or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which is a federal regulation that specifies the processes and time restrictions for filing LTD claims. A lawyer who has handled long-term disability claims will know how to follow ERISA requirements and assist you in the following areas.
Getting Ready to File Claims for a Lawsuit
One rule that usually surprises applicants is the prohibition on bringing fresh evidence in a lawsuit against your insurance. With very few exceptions, the federal court determines your case based on what is in the administrative record (your claims file with the insurance company). Thus, a competent ERISA lawyer would attempt to “load the administrative record” with positive medical, vocational, and other information before exhausting your internal appeals—that is, your appeals inside the insurance company.
Your lawyer will ensure that your claim file has all necessary medical documentation and will collaborate with your doctors to acquire supporting comments concerning your work-related limits. Knowing what questions to ask your physicians rather than relying on the frequently biased paperwork given by your insurance company might be one of the most useful contributions your lawyer can make.
Recruiting Vocational Experts
Your lawyer may call a vocational expert to testify about the requirements of your employment or the entire labor market, depending on whether you have a “own occupation” or “any occupation” disability insurance. Relying on the evidence of ostensibly “independent” vocational experts recruited by your LTD carrier is rarely a smart idea.
Assisting You as Your Representative
In addition to gathering convincing proof of your impairment, your lawyer will communicate with the LTD carrier or plan administrator on your behalf, file your first application and appeals on time, undertake settlement talks, and, if necessary, launch a lawsuit in federal court.