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Confused by Disability Insurance Claims? FindLaw's Top 5 Tips

By Brett Snider, Esq. on April 29, 2014 9:16 AM

A disability can cause anxiety and hardship for the disabled person and family members alike. When filing a disability insurance claim, the process can be a major stressor in what is already a trying time.

That's why FindLaw has been focusing this month on demystifying the laws about disability and helping you get the most out of your disability insurance claim.

While every person's case is different, here are our Top 5 tips to help clarify the disability claims process:

1. Know What Type of Disability Insurance You Have.

It's easy to be confused about your coverage when you don't even know the basics about disability insurance plans. For example, do you have a private disability insurance plan, or do you have an employer- or state-sponsored plan? In some cases, you may have more than one type of coverage.

You'll also want to understand the difference between short-term and long-term disability coverage because the distinctions may make a huge difference in your claim. And you should also know what ERISA is and how it may intersect with your disability insurance claims.

2. Know What Injuries Are Covered.

Is your specific injury even covered by your plan(s)? Instead of sifting through all the fine print in your policy, it may be better to discuss your condition with an experienced disability attorney. He or she can determine what your plan covers, what you need to make your claim successful, and what you may expect from your insurer.

3. Gather Your Proof.

When you're preparing to file a claim, you'll need to gather evidence of your disability that makes your claim a successful one. Depending on your state, you may need official doctors' notes and/or medical records. Your lawyer will be able to tell you exactly what kinds of proof you need, and can help you collect that information.

4. Don't Be Careless.

Insurance companies aren't dying to pay out disability insurance claims, so even small technical mistakes can mean a denial. Missing deadlines, filing incomplete paperwork, or not following through with your treatment are common reasons for a claim to be denied, regardless of its merit.

5. Be Smart Enough to Hire a Lawyer.

You wouldn't expect to diagnose yourself following a disabling injury, so why would you expect to fight for a disability claim without an attorney? There are many facets of your claim which a disability attorney can take care of or simplify; you just need to be smart enough to ask for professional help. Lawyers are particularly well-suited to negotiating with insurance companies, which may be a large practical part of your claim.

Hiring a lawyer for your disability insurance claim will also give you the opportunity to ask questions and throw around ideas. And by checking out various disability lawyers' websites, you can find out which ones offer free consultations.

Bottom line: If you're filing a disability insurance claim, follow these five tips and don't leave your future health and livelihood to chance. To learn more, check out FindLaw's comprehensive section on Disability.

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