Becoming disabled is a life path that no one willingly chooses, but, for a large and growing segment of the population, disability has become a frightening reality. In fact, according to information from the United States Census Bureau, as many as one in every five Americans is now classified as having some type of disability. Thankfully, a sizable segment of these people can qualify for long-term disability from their employers through the Employer Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). But not everyone who qualifies under an ERISA plan is successful in claiming their benefits, often because of mistakes made during the application process. If you have recently become disabled and are considering making a claim for disability benefits of this type, take time to learn how to avoid making these common mistakes to help bolster your chances for a successful claim.
Failing to document every detail of your illness or injury
Disability claims are rarely decided favorably without explicit proof of the medical issues involved. Applicants who make the mistake of relying on the basic information provided on the insurance company's forms will likely not have the proof they need to prove their disability claim is valid. To prevent this problem, insist on having your doctor fill out a separate, detailed report that provides complete information as to the nature of your disability and how it impacts your ability to perform the duties of your job. While some doctors will provide this report for free, be prepared to pay a fee for it if you must.
Performing other types of work or medically forbidden physical activities during the application process
Becoming disabled can be disastrous to your family's income, especially in the period immediately following the illness or injury, when your paychecks may have stopped. Applicants sometimes attempt to take on some other work or take part in some types of physical activity during this time that is not approved by their doctor. When this is discovered by the insurance company, the applicant may be suspected of attempting to cheat the insurance company, and the application is often denied. Applicants should make sure they are very clear on which activities they are allowed to do and which ones are forbidden and carefully obey those guidelines.
Relying on your employer or the insurance company for advice
While it is acceptable to ask basic questions of your employer, their human resources department, or the insurance company when working on an ERISA disability claim, remember that they are not experts in the field of disability insurance claims. Instead, consider seeking your own legal representation as soon as possible. By taking the step of hiring an attorney who has successfully handled ERISA disability claims in the past, you will have access to an experienced counsel to answer all your questions, ensure that both your employer and the insurance company act honorably, and help speed your way through the entire process with a greater chance of success.
For more assistance in filing your ERISA disability claim, talk to an attorney like Iler and Iler.