One quarter of workers will experience a disability before reaching retirement age, disrupting their ability to work and provide for their families. For those who suffer from injury or illness and cannot work, disability insurance can provide an important source of income. There are strict legal requirements governing all aspects of disability insurance, from filing claims and challenging a denial to qualifying for benefits. Dealing with disability insurance can be challenging, given the technical legal and medical issues involved, the requirements of insurance policies, and the possibility of being denied coverage. Fortunately, Findlaw's disability section has information and resources to help answer your disability questions.
In this section, you'll find resources to help you deal with issues related to disability insurance. You can learn about the difference between long- and short-term disability insurance, private insurance and Social Security disability benefits, different definitions of disability, how to apply for benefits and file a strong claim, and what to do if your disability claim is denied.
Qualifying for Disability
The definition of disability varies, depending on your insurance policy. Many private disability insurance policies, the kind you buy for yourself or get through work, will provide benefits if injury or illness prevents you from meeting the duties of your current job. Others, like Social Security disability insurance, use stricter definitions of disability. These will only provide benefits if you can no longer do any job at all. Some policies require you to be unable to work for several months before receiving benefits, but other policies, like short-term disability insurance, only provide benefits for a limited time. Understanding your plan's definition of disability can be key to qualifying for disability benefits.
Applying for Benefits
Filing a claim for disability can be a complex task. If your disability insurance is provided by an employer, federal regulations establish strict requirements for processing and responding to your claims. Your insurance provider is required to inform you of your plans requirements, including any time limits and deadlines for filing and any conditions that can be excluded from disability coverage. If you are applying for Social Security disability insurance, you'll need to provide detailed information regarding your disability. Learning about the process beforehand can help you prepare and avoid potential issues that could harm your claim.
Fighting a Denial
Many disability claims are initially denied. Thankfully, employer disability, Social Security disability insurance, and many private policies allow you to appeal a denial, often several times. These appeals have strict requirements for both you and your insurer. As you appeal, you'll want to pay attention to the reasons your claim was originally rejected, provide any extra supporting information and make sure to note important deadlines and other requirements.
How an Attorney Can Help
Disability benefits are an important lifeline for those who cannot work due to illness or injury. An experienced disability attorney can work with you to put together the strongest case before you file a claim and determine if extra testing will be beneficial. If your claim has been denied or your benefits are being lowered or terminated, an attorney can help you avoid financial hardship and make sure you receive the coverage you deserve.