Disability insurance claims can be complex and are frequently denied (at least initially). A lawyer can help guide you through the process and make it less confusing.
Because disability can be a very personal matter, it's important to choose an experienced disability attorney who fits your needs and is experienced in that area of law. Thankfully, many offer free consultations.
After you scope out a potential attorney (or two), you'll want to find out some basic information about the lawyer and about your claim. Here are five questions to ask a disability lawyer:
- Where are you licensed to practice law? One of the most basic (and important) questions may be to ask a disability lawyer if he or she practices law in your jurisdiction. In order to practice law in a particular state, the attorney must be licensed and in good standing with your state's bar association. Because some disability insurance benefits are state-sponsored programs, an attorney who practices in that state will be the most knowledgeable on that topic.
- What can you do for my case? After you explain your situation, ask what your prospective disability lawyer may be able to do for your case. While it's not required that you retain an attorney to help you with your disability claim, it may be smart to do so, especially if you're appealing a denial. As mentioned, the process can get complicated and claims are often rejected for a variety of reasons; an experienced lawyer can help make sure you do everything correctly.
- Does ERISA apply to my case, and how? If your disability benefits are covered by an employer-sponsored insurance plan, it's likely covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, aka ERISA -- a complicated body of law that has many specific procedures, especially when it comes to appealing your claim. If ERISA applies in your case, an attorney can explain what that means and help you sort through it.
- What mistakes am I making with my claim? There's a great deal of paperwork and some hard-and-fast deadlines that you must meet in order to file a valid disability claim. Many times claims are denied for simple reasons, like forgetting to include a document. A disability attorney can review your documents to see if where you made a mistake and how to fix it.
- Should I just start over? If your claim has been rejected, or if you find yourself overwhelmed by the process, you may want to ask your prospective lawyer: Should I just start over and let you take over? A disability lawyer can give you his or her honest opinion about the best way to pursue your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
These are just a few initial questions for your prospective disability lawyer, but there are many other factors you'll want to consider when finding the right lawyer for you. To learn more, check out FindLaw's informative page on Disability Law in our Hire a Lawyer section.