This is the second installment of our two-part blog post addressing many common questions posed by people who file claims for long-term disability benefits. Click here to read Part One. Whether you have an ERISA plan through your employer or a private policy, the process of appealing a denied, delayed or terminated claim can be confusing. While we have attempted to answer many general questions, we recognize that you may have specific questions about your unique situation. The best way to get answers to these questions is to speak to an experienced Miami long-term disability claims attorney.
What can I do if my claim is delayed, terminated or denied?
The appropriate steps depend on the type of long-term disability coverage. If the policy was provided by an employer as a benefit of employment, the policy is probably part of a group plan which typically is covered by ERISA. This federal law imposes very specific procedures and policies applicable to appeals. An administrative appeal must be pursued to appeal a denial under ERISA, so you will want an experienced Florida disability insurance claims attorney to protect your interest. While you can eventually pursue relief in a lawsuit, you must first exhaust your administrative remedies.
If you are appealing a denial or termination of benefits, you will need an ERISA claims attorney because the procedures are complicated. Further, the evidence that may be used if your appeal proceeds to litigation will usually be limited to the record established prior to filing of the lawsuit.
Policyholders who have purchase a long-term insurance policy outside the employment relationship are not subject to ERISA law. The requirement that you exhaust administrative appeals before filing a lawsuit does not apply to private long-term disability policies.
What timing requirements apply to filing a long-term disability claim?
While the individual policy will determine when “proof of loss” must be provided to the insurer, the usual deadline is sixty or ninety days. If you miss the deadline, you should never backdate the notice of claim. We may be able to help claimants that face problems like failing to file a timely proof of loss.
Do I need to attend an Independent Medical Exam?
Generally, long-term insurance policies require policyholders to submit to an independent medical examination (IME). In reality, these medical evaluations do not remotely resemble anything close to “independent.” These physicians are chosen and paid by the insurance company. These medical professionals are fully aware that their chances of being hired for subsequent claims depends on a pro-insurer report. This type of report is the exact opposite of an “independent report.” Sometimes I advise clients to bring a family member to the appointment who can observe and take notes or videotape the evaluation process.
Can I handle my own disability insurance claim if I have successfully handled an auto insurance claim on a prior occasion?
Long-term disability insurance claims are subject to a far more complex process than auto insurance claims. The complex legal framework under ERISA makes it extremely risky to attempt to pursue an ERISA disability claim without legal representation. Many policyholders who thought they could handle their own claim found out they were mistaken the hard way.
If you have questions about long-term disability insurance claims in Florida, you are welcome to contact my law firm to discuss your claim with an experience Miami disability insurance lawyer. My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.