When you become seriously sick or injured, filing a claim to gain access to the long-term disability (LTD) benefits you need can seem daunting. After the diagnosis of a chronic condition or suffering a debilitating injury, the last thing you may feel up to is completing complex paperwork.
Whether you have a private LTD policy or a policy through your employer, filing a claim for coverage can be a long and tedious process. Here are five do’s and don’t to help you along the process of filing a long-term disability claim:
Don’t: Delay getting started
Starting early is one of the best ways to prepare a strong, detailed claim. Understandably, you may be consumed with attending to your condition or adjusting to the realities of daily life. Work with an attorney to start right away and guard against possible delays that may come along the way.
Do: Document everything
Whether you keep a detailed journal, file all medical records, keep track of any related expenses or all of the above, documenting everything related to your condition can help to support your claim. A journal filled with your records of your condition, down to the date and time, can strengthen your claims of a disabling condition.
Do: Follow your doctor’s orders
Keep track of your medical records and treatments to prove that you are both actively seeking care and attending to doctor’s orders. If your insurer finds reason to suspect that you have strayed from your doctor’s instructions, they may question your claim. If you do happen to disagree with your doctor’s instructions, seek a second opinion.
Don’t: Submit an incomplete claim
In your rush to gain access to needed benefits, you may hastily submit your claim. However, submitting a well-prepared, thorough claim is essential to recovering benefits. Carefully read and reread the necessary items to submit and ensure you have everything. Such items include robust medical evidence, a statement from your treating physician and anything else to support your claim of a disabling condition.
Don’t: Assume the fight is over after a denial
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not initially accept all valid claims. If your insurer denies your claim, do not give up hope just yet. An attorney can help to review your claim and appeal the original decision. Be mindful of strict deadlines to appeal this decision, which typically includes 180 days for both private plans and ERISA group plans.