Monthly Disability Claims: Should I Use an Attorney?
If you're applying for disability benefits, have been denied benefits or are currently unsatisfied with your plan, you might be asking yourself: "Should I use an attorney for my monthly disability claim?" Many people are cautious about contacting attorneys when they begin seeking disability benefits, but the aid of a skilled lawyer can help ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the benefits you're entitled to.
An attorney can work with you to help you build a case, avoid financial hardship from lost benefits, and steer clear of common legal pitfalls when making monthly disability claims, including:
- When you're initially filing a claim for disability benefits
- If your claim has been denied
- If your benefits are wrongly administered, such as when your benefits are less than you're entitled to under your plan
- If your benefits might be suspended or terminated against your will
If You're Initially Filing a Monthly Disability Claim
If you're initially filing a claim for disability benefits, an attorney can help you put the strongest case together to ensure you receive benefits. You might be filing a claim with employer-provided or private disability insurance or making a claim for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. An attorney can help you develop your medical evidence, manage deadlines and understand the requirements you'll have to meet before receiving benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI protects workers who have contributed enough to Social Security and who have suffered a disability that prevents them from doing any work. The Social Security Administration guarantees a claimant's right to representation when applying for SSDI. A disability attorney may help you put together a strong case for coverage by:
- Looking closely at your records to see that you have the exams needed to win a claim
- Scheduling a consultative exam with SSA doctors
- Gathering doctors' statements to support your claim of disability
- Navigating the Social Security bureaucracy
Private Disability Insurance
If you have disability insurance that you purchased yourself or that your employer provides, consulting an attorney may be helpful when you're originally filing a claim for benefits. In addition to building and supplementing your medical records, an attorney will help you navigate the complexities of your insurance plan. For example, your lawyer might help you determine whether you must wait a certain period before your benefit payments can begin, what extent of disability you must show, and if you will be allowed to engage in limited work while still receiving benefits.
Disability insurance policies that are provided by employers are governed by ERISA, a federal law that establishes strict requirements for insurers and beneficiaries. These laws and regulations create strict deadlines for responding to claims and filing appeals. An attorney can help you manage these deadlines, making sure you don't waive your right to benefits by missing an important date.
If Your Claim Has Been Denied
If you've applied for disability benefits and your claim has been denied, an attorney can help to prove that you're entitled to benefits on appeal. Both SSDI and employer disability insurance allow you to appeal a denial. An attorney can help guide you through the appeals process. This could include reviewing any notices explaining why your claim was rejected, supplementing your medical records and gathering non-medical evidence of disability, and working to make sure your appeal is heard by an objective decision maker.
If Your Claim Has Been Wrongly Administered
You may be receiving benefits but believe that they are less than you're entitled to. For example, if your private disability insurance plan calculates your benefits as a percentage of your pre-disability salary, any misreporting or under-calculating of your salary would result in you receiving less benefits that you deserve. If you're concerned about your current benefits, an attorney can exam your plan with you and help identify the ways in which you might be entitled to more than you currently receive.
If Your Benefits Might Be Suspended or Terminated
Having your disability benefits suspended or terminated can deprive you of an important source of support. Often, you have the right to challenge a decision to suspend or terminate disability payments. Consulting with an attorney can help you fight to prevent wrongful loss of benefits.
Have a Lawyer Review Your Disability Claim
If you're considering making monthly disability claims or experiencing problems with your current benefits, there are a number of important factors to consider. An experienced attorney will know how the law in your jurisdiction applies to your case, which information is needed, and what to expect from the courts. Check out FindLaw's directory of qualified disability law attorneys today.