Anyone attempting to make use of a private disability insurance policy they have with their employer would rely on a disability lawyer to gain access to those disability benefits. Many employers today offer disability insurance as part of their employer coverage package, but making use of those benefits can be difficult to do.
A qualified disability attorney will help you file the claim for the insurance benefits and go through any appeals that are necessary to finally obtain the benefits.
Disability Attorneys Understand ERISA Laws In-Depth
Many employers offer disability insurance as part of their employee benefits package today, but few employers take the time to read through the fine print of these policies. The benefits are only as good as the fine print that controls them after all.
Every employer-based disability insurance plan is governed by the laws of ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act). Good lawyers understand the rights that ERISA gives employees and they can use that information to appeal rejected claims.
Long-term disability claims are turned down all the time, but those claims can be appealed in a Federal court according to ERISA. Having an attorney on your side to help put together a lawsuit to bring to court is essential for successfully getting that disability after being turned down by the insurance company initially.
ERISA laws only apply to insurance offered by an employer though, and privately obtained disability insurance doesn’t benefit from the act in the same ways.
Social Security Disability is Different
It’s important to see the difference between filing for employer-based disability benefits compared to Social Security disability. The two types of disability are governed by different programs, have a different filing process and different laws that control them.
Individuals that file for benefits from an employer-based disability program will need a lawyer that’s familiar with that procedure and the laws that control that process. Individuals trying for disability benefits from the government will need a lawyer that specializes in Social Security disability for the best results. Many disability lawyers are familiar with both types, but this is an important question to ask when looking for a lawyer to work with.
Disability Claims Come with Exact Deadlines
Each disability claim comes with a specific set of deadlines thanks to the rules outlined in ERISA. The insurance company normally has 45 days to deny or approve an insurance claim after it’s sent in according to ERISA, but they can take action to extend that decision period by another 30 days in specific circumstances.
Keeping these strict deadlines in mind when filing for disability benefits will help let you know when you should hear back with an answer from the company and also when you should call the company for more information about your claim.
Appealing a Denial Can be Difficult to Do
While it’s possible to bring denied claims to Federal court and have them appealed, your chances of success at that point aren’t great. In order to prevent your appeal from being successful, the insurance company only needs to show very basic evidence that supports its denial in the first place. If your application leaves out important details, lacks evidence or includes a mistake it will be easy to deny in Federal court as well. That’s why it’s beneficial to rely on a disability lawyer when filing the initial application for long-term disability benefits. An experienced lawyer knows what information must be included and how to give you the best odds of approval.
Know when to Consider an OTR Request
An OTR (on-the-record) request is issued to a judge in cases where the evidence of severe disability is so overwhelming that there is no reason to even go to trial before coming up with a decision. Disability attorneys should be familiar with an OTR request and the times when it’s appropriate to use one.
Hiring a good disability attorney to help you through the claims process, and any appeals if necessary, can improve your results dramatically, but only if you hire the right law office to do the work. That’s why it’s vital to ask the right questions and to ensure that you know exactly how the office operates as well.
Start off by asking whether the office will work on a contingency basis or not. It’s normal for lawyers to charge about 25% of their clients back disability benefits when they come in, but most lawyers will cap this amount at around $6,000. Be wary of attorneys that ask for a significant amount of money upfront, or of attorneys that don’t cap the total benefit amount they can collect.
Next, ask whether the attorney specializes in disability law or not. Disability law is a technical and specialized area that requires ongoing study and practice to maintain success in. A general-practice criminal or family lawyer isn’t likely to know all the specifics of disability law to be effective at representing you for these legal matters. An excellent way to determine if the lawyer is specialized enough or not is to ask if the attorney is a member of NOSSCR (National Organization of Social Security Claimants’) or not. This organization offers continued education and information for disability attorneys to help ensure they understand the latest laws for disability cases.
Finally, look at reviews and take the time to get to know the law office and its history serving your community. Does the attorney have a good reputation? Has the office proven that it offers reliable services? These are important considerations to make as well before hiring an attorney from the office.
Disability cases can be difficult to win, but they’re essential if you’re counting on those benefits to pay your living expenses. At Tuley Law Office we specialize in disability law and offer guidance for most disability cases. Talk with one of our experts and let us help you prepare your application or go through the appeal process to get you the benefits that you deserve. Work with our team to avoid preparing your case on your own. Our team has proven results and we’ve helped hundreds of applicants get approved for long-term disability.