Long-term disability (LTD) benefits can play a vital role in securing your financial future if you have been left with a disability that prevents you from working. Unfortunately, claims for LTD benefits are often initially denied. That's why, hiring an attorney familiar with the process is the best way to increase your chance of a successful appeal.
1. Your Attorney Can Advise You of Any Mistakes You May Be Making
You may be damaging your claim without even knowing it. Disability insurance law is extremely complex, but your attorney can let you know what mistakes you may be making in the process.
For example, your insurance company may be conducting surveillance while you're disabled. An insurance investigator will take photos of you and gather other evidence to disprove your claim. If you're enjoying an outdoor activity or socializing with friends, it may be used as "proof" that you're not as disabled as you claim.
Another common mistake people make when they don't have an attorney is treating their condition inconsistently. If they start to feel better, they may skip follow-up appointments. If a treatment has side effects, they neglect to refill the medication instead of finding a suitable alternative. This casts doubt on the seriousness of the disability.
2. Your Attorney Can Gather the Necessary Documentation
Every insurance company is allowed to set its own definition of what constitutes a disability. Even if you are able to get Social Security disability benefits, this does not necessarily mean that you will qualify for LTD benefits under the terms of the policy.
Your attorney can make sure your disability is thoroughly documented with the appropriate medical records, doctor opinions, letters from caregivers or employers, photographs, or other applicable evidence.
Gathering evidence early is key since you are not allowed to submit additional items for the record after your appeals have been exhausted. If your case reaches the point where it's necessary to file a lawsuit, you need to have the record loaded with information to support your claim.
3. Your Attorney Can Locate Relevant Experts
Expert testimony can often prove vital in winning an LTD appeal. However, it's unrealistic to expect to be able to locate experts without an attorney's assistance.
There are two main types of expert witnesses your attorney can call to testify on your behalf. An independent medical expert can review your medical records and form an opinion about your residual functional capacity (RFC). Vocational experts, sometimes called jobs experts, can use their training in vocational rehabilitation or vocational counseling to determine if there are types of jobs you can perform given the restrictions of your medical impairment, education, skills, and work experience.
4. Your Attorney Can Make Sure Paperwork Is Filled Out Correctly
Paperwork needs to be filled out carefully in an LTD claim. Any inaccuracies, inconsistencies, or missing information may be used to deny your benefits. Small errors can have huge consequences, especially for claimants who have pre-existing conditions or mental health limitations that an insurer may use to try to avoid approving full benefits.
If your disability is severe enough to limit your ability to continue to work, it is likely that you don't have the time or patience to focus on these tasks. Having an attorney's assistance lets you direct your attention to managing your medical condition.
5. Your Attorney Can Determine If Evidence Has Been Mischaracterized
Sometimes, insurance companies will pull facts from a record that support denying the claim and ignore evidence that suggests a person is truly disabled. They may also make unfair assumptions about a claimant's job skills, work history, or what type of work is realistically available to him or her given current medical restrictions. Cost control via claim denial is quite common, but companies are not allowed to deny claims that meet the policy qualifications.
A skilled attorney can review the evidence and create a rebuttal if it appears that facts are being misconstrued. The legal team at Gibbons Leis, PLLC has extensive experience handling LTD appeals and is committed to advocating for your interests throughout the process. Call today to schedule a free case evaluation.