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What Does a Disability Attorney Do?

Whether you're filing a disability claim, appealing a denied claim, filing for reconsideration, or filing suit against your insurance company, a qualified disability attorney will be able to help you in a number of ways. Your attorney can obtain persuasive evidence of your disability, interact with the insurance company on your behalf, and otherwise help you navigate an exhausting process. Read on to learn more about the benefits of working with a disability attorney.

Disability Insurance Policies Are Complex

An attorney can assist you in properly completing the complex claim forms, preventing your claim from being denied based on incomplete information or missed requirements. Some insurance companies may take advantage of the complexity of the claim process when denying claims. Individual disability policies are unique and may be restricted by various qualifying words. In filing a disability claim, it's very important for you to understand the key terms and provisions in your policy. An attorney can help you in understanding these claim requirements.

Biased "Independent" Medical Examinations

Following the submission of your claim, you may be asked to submit to an "independent" medical examination . Because this examiner is usually selected and paid for by your insurance company, the examination is often biased. And because insurance companies use these exams as a way to deny disability benefits, it can be important to have the help of an attorney to ensure your rights are protected, the exam is conducted fairly, and you are not exposed to risk of injury.

Proper Medical Evidence

Another critical piece to your claim is supportive medical evidence. Fully discussing your condition with your physician will help ensure you obtain supportive medical records. Your attorney will make sure that your claim file contains the necessary medical evidence and will work with your physician in obtaining supportive expert opinions about your work limitations. A qualified disability attorney knows the right questions to ask your physician so you don't have to rely on the insurance company's biased paperwork.

Responding to an Insurance Company's Surveillance

After filing your disability insurance claim, you may be photographed or videoed by the insurance company. This type of surveillance is not necessarily indicative of your ability to work. However, if the company finds you engaging in activities you claimed you couldn't perform, your benefits could be denied and your contract may be terminated. In such a situation, an attorney can minimize any consequences from the surveillance and prevent the surveillance from being taken out of context.

Vocational Experts

Depending on the coverage you selected, you may have either an "own occupation" or "any occupation" disability policy. An "own occupation" policy pays benefits if you're unable to work in your particular occupation. An "any occupation" policy pays benefits only if you're unable to work in any occupation. However disability is defined in your policy, an attorney can clarify these terms for you. If your insurance company hires a vocational expert, your attorney, in order to combat the biased expert, may ask a vocational expert to testify about the requirements of your occupation and the labor market.

Denied Disability Insurance Claim

If your disability claim has been denied, you may need the help of an attorney. Every individual disability insurance policy has governing clauses. Your policy may require an appeal or reconsideration to be filed before you can file a lawsuit against the company. An attorney can help you understand what kind of response is required. While you're not obligated to hire an attorney to represent you through the appeal or reconsideration process, it's often advisable as the insurance company has its own team of claims representatives, attorneys, vocation specialists, and medical professionals.

Legal Fees

Disability attorneys often handle disability cases on a contingency fee basis, and may charge up to 40 percent of the past-due benefits the insurance company owes you or a combination of your past-due and future benefits. Under a contingency fee arrangement, you won't owe your attorney a fee unless you win your case. However, it's important to ask your attorney if you will be charged for the expenses of litigation. Expenses could include the costs of obtaining your medical records, filing paperwork, postage, and depositions.

Filing for Disability? Have an Attorney Review Your Claim

It's often in your best interests to contact a disability attorney as soon as you're unable to work. And while the cost of hiring a lawyer may seem prohibitive at first, time is not on your side when it comes to deadlines and procedures. Check out FindLaw's extensive directory of disability law attorneys and find counsel in your neck of the woods.

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