The decision to apply for Long Term Disability is difficult and has significant implications for you and your family’s finances.
1. Review Your Policy
If you are considering applying for Long Term or Short-Term Disability, the first thing you should do is review your policy. The policy will include important details, such as any timelines for filing and the applicable definition of disability. Make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements of your plan. Most plans require employment for a certain period of time before eligibility begins or may include pre-existing condition clauses. This also includes making sure you are aware of any deadlines. Many policies have time limits for applications,
2. Obtain a Copy of the Required Documentation
If you do not have a copy of the documentation needed to apply for LTD benefits, reach out to your human resources to obtain a copy of the required forms. Carefully review all of the forms. Make a copy of any forms you receive before completing them to draft your answers. If you are already receiving Short Term Disability benefits from the same insurance carrier, review correspondence to check for any directions regarding transitioning to Long Term Disability, including updated forms for you to complete.
3. Have an Honest Discussion With Your Doctor
The decision to stop working and apply for LTD benefits should, in part, be made with your medical providers. Most LTD insurance carriers require you to obtain and provide a form completed by your doctor, generally called an Attending Physician Statement (APS) as part of the process for filing a claim. Even before you make the decision to file for Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits, you should make sure that you are discussing the extent of the symptoms you are experiencing and the impact on your daily life and ability to perform your job. Without a supportive doctor, it is extremely difficult to win a claim for LTD benefits. If you are not honest about the full extent of your ongoing medical issues, your medical providers may not feel comfortable supporting your application. Further, it could potentially generate medical records used by your insurance providers to deny your claim. Once you are in pay status, your LTD carrier will ask for updated APS, so it is essential to maintain a strong treating relationship with your providers.
4. Gather Relevant Documentation
The application forms for your LTD benefits will ask questions about your employment and medical history. Be prepared to provide detailed descriptions of your job duties for your current and past positions. Make a list of your current prescription medications, including the dosage and frequency. Gather information about your medical providers, including their specialty and contact information and the dates of your treatment. This information will also be necessary for applying for Social Security Disability. Request and obtain copies of medical records relating to relevant medical treatment. The Long Term Disability carrier may request records directly from your medical providers. It’s your responsibility to ensure that the carrier has all the necessary medical documentation. It can be a lengthy and confusing process to obtain your medical records, so starting early and staying organized are crucial.
5. Apply for Social Security Disability Retirement
Most LTD carriers require you to apply for Social Security Disability benefits and provide proof of the application and that you diligently pursued any appeals. It is much easier to apply early than to wait and potentially accrue an overpayment.
6. Set reasonable expectations.
The process to be approved for Long Term Disability benefits can be lengthy. You may encounter numerous requests for information from your LTD carrier and multiple delayed decisions. Do not go into the application process expecting a quick resolution and set yourself up to be frustrated. You will need to be patient and persistent. You don’t have to be alone- that is why you should hire a qualified attorney.
7. Hire an experienced attorney!
Working with an attorney to ensure your application is completed correctly from the start is far easier than having to take actions to mitigate mistakes if your claim is denied and potentially endure a lengthy appeal process.
About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The firm represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country and practices family law throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. The firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and their attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at andalmanflynn.com or call 301.563.6685.