Do I Really Need to Get Representation from a Long-Term Disability Lawyer?
If you are unable to work and have long-term disability (LTD) insurance, you should hire an experienced LTD attorney as soon as possible in order to maximise your chances of being successful in your claim. When an application for disability benefits does not have legal representation, the process of filing a claim for long-term disability can be fraught with peril, especially when the applicant has employer-provided group coverage. Your ability to get long-term disability payments could be jeopardised by anything as simple as missing a deadline, failing to properly fill out a form, or saying something in error to a claims adjuster.
What Services Can an Attorney Specializing in Long-Term Disability Provide for Me?
Group insurance paid for by the employer ERISA, or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, is the federal legislation that governs long-term disability (LTD) insurance. This regulation stipulates extremely particular processes to follow and time restrictions within which they must be completed. A lawyer who has experience handling long-term disability claims will know how to comply with the laws of ERISA and will be able to assist you in achieving success, particularly in the following areas:
Getting Your Claims Documentation Ready for a Lawsuit
One condition that, in general, takes applicants by surprise is one that states they are not allowed to provide new evidence in a lawsuit brought against their insurance. This rule prohibits the introduction of new evidence. Your case will be decided by the federal judge, with very few exceptions, on the basis of the information included in the administrative record (your claims file with the insurance company). Therefore, a knowledgeable ERISA attorney will attempt to “stack the administrative record” with medical, vocational, and other supportive evidence before you exhaust your internal appeals, which refers to your appeals within the insurance company. This is done before you have exhausted all of your appeals within the insurance company. (Click here to read more about the appeals process for LTD.)
Your attorney will make certain that your claim file contains all of the pertinent medical information, and they will collaborate with your treating physicians to gather supportive comments regarding your work-related limits. Instead of depending on the documentation, which is frequently slanted in one direction or another, provided by your insurance company, one of the most essential contributions that your attorney can make is to know the appropriate questions to ask your doctors.
Employing People With Relevant Experience
Whether you have a disability policy that covers “own occupation” or “any occupation,” your attorney may call a vocational expert to testify about the requirements of your employment or the wider labour market. This will depend on the type of policy you have. It is not usually a good idea to put too much stock in the testimony of vocational experts who are purported to be “independent” and who were engaged by your LTD carrier.
Taking on the Role of Your Representative
Your attorney will, in addition to gathering convincing evidence of your disability, interact with the LTD carrier or plan administrator on your behalf, file your initial application and appeals in a timely manner, conduct settlement negotiations, and bring a lawsuit in federal court if it becomes necessary to do so.
When Should I Retain the Services of a Lawyer?
It is never too soon to begin the process of looking for legal counsel to represent you in a disability claim. As soon as you realise that you are unable to perform your job duties, you should get in touch with a lawyer who specialises in long-term disability law. There is typically no cost associated with speaking with an attorney over the phone or meeting in person to discuss your case, so you have nothing to lose by doing so.
It is common practise for workers who are applying for long-term disability benefits to wait until their initial claim has been turned down before consulting an attorney. However, it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer to assist you with your initial application in order to protect your interests, and doing so is highly recommended. The following is a list of some of the most typical errors that are made by workers who are not represented and who try to file an LTD claim on their own:
Leaving one’s place of employment and thereafter attempting to apply for disability benefits. The vast majority of LTD policies that are given by employers indicate that coverage will expire after the work relationship has been severed.
Making the move to a position with fewer responsibilities or a lower salary. Employees who strive to continue working despite their disabilities out of good faith may end up unwittingly hurting their chances of winning a long-term disability (LTD) claim. Working in a job that is less physically demanding can make it more difficult to win a “own occupation” claim, and working in a position that pays less could result in your future monthly LTD amount being reduced.
When applying for benefits, making mistakes on the application. It is common practise for insurance firms to draught their paperwork in such a way as to elicit responses that could serve as the foundation for a refusal. An attorney specialising in disability law can inform you of the strategies that are frequently employed by insurance companies in order to circumvent paying payments.
If you have already submitted your first application and have been rejected, it is imperative that you retain legal representation to assist you with any administrative appeals that you intend to pursue. It is important to act quickly because both group and individual LTD insurance have severe time limits (typically 180 days) for appealing a rejection of benefits.
How much would it cost me to hire an attorney?
The majority of disability attorneys take on LTD cases on a contingency fee basis, charging a charge that is normally between 25 and 40 percent of the back benefits that are owed to the client by the insurance carrier. If you don’t prevail in your legal matter, you won’t have to pay the attorney any money for their services under the terms of a contingency agreement.
Your attorney will most likely pay the upfront costs of the lawsuit on your behalf, which may include depositions, travel expenses, medical documents, and mail. However, your attorney will expect you to return the costs of these charges, sometimes even if you end up losing your case. Make it a point to inquire about whether or not you will be responsible for paying costs associated with the litigation, how much you should anticipate paying, and whether or not you will be invoiced even if your claim is denied. You should also be aware that some LTD attorneys may charge you a portion of both the benefits that have already accrued and the advantages that will accrue in the future. You are welcome to make an attempt to negotiate this term, but if your attorney persists, you may want to think about taking your company somewhere. Please refer to our post on the cost of hiring an LTD lawyer for further information.
Finding a Long-Term Disability Lawyer
Instead of hiring a general practitioner who will have to learn ERISA law on the fly, it is imperative that you locate an attorney who has experience managing LTD matters. Cases involving LTD are far too difficult and significant to be handled by a lawyer who does not concentrate their practise on disability law.
Follow us on Twitter