Every disability insurance policy is different, and whether your disability insurance claim is approved depends on many factors: the definition of disability in your policy, your medical condition, the thoroughness of your treating physicians in documenting your claims, and more. Our disability insurance attorneys at Dell & Schaefer have helped hundreds of people across the country obtain approval of their claim for disability benefits and we have some tips for how to do this.
Tips on How to Apply for Northwestern Mutual Disability Insurance Benefits
The definition of disability as presented in your policy is the starting point for all disability claims. Generally, for the first 24 months, you are required to be unable to perform the duties of your own occupation. After 24 months, you must be unable to perform the duties of any occupation for which you are otherwise qualified by education, training, or experience.
The claim must be supported by strong medical evidence. The timing of presenting your claim in relationship to when you first became disabled is important, and you and your physicians need to be prepared for interviews by Northwestern Mutual.
Strong Medical Support is the Foundation of Your Northwestern Mutual Disability Claim
The single most important factor for having your claim approved is having strong medical records that not only document and support your claim, but show how your disabling condition prevents you from performing the duties of your job whether you are in the “own occupation” or “any occupation” stage of your claim.
Some people think it is enough for their physicians to fill out the Physician Statement form and say, “Yes. This person cannot work.” That simple statement will not get you an approval.
The medical records must document your diagnosis supported with medical diagnostic tests and treatment. Your treating physicians must connect the dots between your disabling condition and how that condition interferes with your ability to work. The doctor needs to explain why your limitations and restrictions make it impossible for you to do your own job or any job for which you are otherwise qualified.
When we represent you in your claim for disability insurance benefits from Northwestern Mutual, we look through your medical records and make sure all the appropriate testing that Northwestern Mutual will accept has been done.
There is a tendency to tell your doctor on each visit, “I feel fine.” Northwestern Mutual will use that to say you are better and can go back to work. You need to avoid minimizing your complaints. Have an honest conversation with your doctor about how you feel, what your symptoms are, and be sure that information is recorded in your medical record.
Doctors Usually Like When Their Patients Have an Attorney to Help with Disability Claim Process
Most physicians appreciate it when you tell them you have hired an advocate to help you with your claim. Our disability insurance attorneys educate the doctors that this is not about being unable to perform the activities of daily living, which you likely are able to do just fine, but the inability to perform your job duties.
If a doctor says they do not qualify anyone for disability, we say you should get another doctor. Each case turns on its individual facts and there are obviously disabled people in the world.
We urge our clients to tell their doctors not to talk to anyone from Northwestern Mutual unless they talk first to us or to the client.
Determining the “Date of Disability” Must be Selected Carefully
Most policies require you to file your claim within 60 to 90 days of the date upon which you first became disabled. We are scrupulously honest about this, but many factors come into play.
There is not enough room on the form for you to write in all the relevant information. We recommend adding an attachment so you can lay out your specific job duties and we work with you to determine when the date was that you finally decided that your medical condition made it impossible for you to return to work.
Timing Interviews with Northwestern Mutual and What to Expect for Claim Submission
You need to be prepared for an interview with Northwestern Mutual when you file your claim since the company will schedule an interview fairly quickly. Northwestern Mutual is looking for not only your answers to their questions, but for the way in which you answer. The same is true of their interviews with your treating physicians.
The best way to prepare for these interviews is to take us up on our offer for a free consultation. We first ask for a copy of your long-term disability policy. We review it, then call you back to discuss with you how we can help. Our clients are located all over the country, so wherever you live, we can help. Call us at (800) 632-8331 for more information.