Disability income often require attorney expertise

South Florida Hospital News, September 2006
By Lois Thompson

“Insurance carriers don’t accept (disability) claims with open arms,” Steven Jay Dell exclaimed. In continuing, he pointed out that it sometimes seems as if the insurance companies look for reasons not to pay, charging the claimant to be “guilty until proven innocent.”

One would think that the purpose of disability insurance is to pay the holder for a legitimate claim, but that doesn’t always happen, according to Dell. And that’s why he focuses on his law practice on helping physicians and other medical personnel receive the help they need when making such a claim.

Dell heads up the 15-member Disability Income Division of the Dell & Schaefer law firm, the main office of which is in Hollywood, Fla. “It’s a very specialized practice, and we do it, on a national level,” he said. He exclaimed the idea behind the disability insurance is that physicians and other medical personnel, including employees of hospitals or medical facilities, may purchase insurance to assure themselves of their income is they become sick or injured and can’t work. Employees may receive such a policy as part of their benefits or may able to purchase it on their own as a supplement.

He gave an example of why this insurance could be so vital. Say on OB/GYN is in an auto accident and suffers injuries to his upper body. “He can’t deliver babies if his upper body is injured,” Dell pointed out, “so he calls the insurance company and says, “That policy I bought, I have to make a claim on it.” But insurance companies, on the national level, make it difficult to collect. They’re very liberal in selling policies, saying things like, “Oh yes, take out as much (insurance) as you think you’ll need.” But when the time comes to collect, they t end to deny or delay paying a claim.”

In some cases, Dell added, “The carriers want to prevent doctors from using their policies as retirement policies. They say, “Of course Dr. Jones is filing a claim. It makes sense for a doctor not to work. Why not? Have you seen how the cost of malpractice insurance has gone up?” That’s totally absurd. It’s an abuse of the policyholder. Doctors-and employees of all types- are made to seem to seem as if they are seeking something they’re not entitled to.”

With that in mind, Dell said he and his colleagues in the Disability Income Division “counsel people from Day 1 to help them make a favorable claim. Or id they have already made a claim, we represent them to make sure they get what they’re entitled to.”

Dell, who has been practicing law for 30 years and handling disability income claims for 15, said the practitioners in the Division are very busy. “I’m joined by five other lawyers who handle this exclusively,” he said. “We deal with very complicated cases that are litigated very aggressively by the insurance companies.”

The group has represented thousands of clients, handling a range of matters from the application for benefits process to lump sum policy buyouts for individuals who are being paid disability income benefits. They also guide clients through such particulars as the subtle difference between total disability (the inability to perform a substantial number of duties of one’s occupation) and residual disability (the inability to perform one or more of one’s duties, or not to be able to perform them for as much time as before).

In addition, the firm represents clients who have been receiving benefits, only to find them mysteriously cut off as insurance carriers look for ways to close files.

And it appears this business will only continue to increase, especially, as Dell commented, if “carriers look for reasons to deny claims. And as Baby Boomers are more inclined to make claims, and carriers are consciously or unconsciously creating a greater amount of obstacles- there will be no reduction in the number of claimants.”

In addition to South Florida, Dell & Schaefer has offices in New York and Washington, D.C., and is opening one shortly in California. Dell said the firm is serving locations that have greater needs in this particular area of law.

Along with assisting claimants, Dell said the attorneys in the Disability Income Division serve as consultants to lawyers nationwide, and attend and speak at medical conferences. “There aren’t that many (lawyers) who have our expertise,” he said.

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FAQ

Do you work in my state?

Yes. We are a national disability insurance law firm that is available to represent you regardless of where you live in the United States. We have partner lawyers in every state and we have filed lawsuits in most federal courts nationwide. Our disability lawyers represent disability claimants at all stages of a claim for disability insurance benefits. There is nothing that our lawyers have not seen in the disability insurance world.

What are your fees?

Since we represent disability insurance claimants at different stages of a disability insurance claim we offer a variety of different fee options. We understand that claimants living on disability insurance benefits have a limited source of income; therefore we always try to work with the claimant to make our attorney fees as affordable as possible.

The three available fee options are a contingency fee agreement (no attorney fee or cost unless we make a recovery), hourly fee or fixed flat rate.

In every case we provide each client with a written fee agreement detailing the terms and conditions. We always offer a free initial phone consultation and we appreciate the opportunity to work with you in obtaining payment of your disability insurance benefits.

Do I have to come to your office to work with your law firm?

No. For purposes of efficiency and to reduce expenses for our clients we have found that 99% of our clients prefer to communicate via telephone, e-mail, fax, GoToMeeting.com sessions, or Skype. If you prefer an initial in-person meeting please let us know. A disability company will never require you to come to their office and similarly we are set up so that we handle your entire claim without the need for you to come to our office.

How can I contact you?

When you call us during normal business hours you will immediately speak with a disability attorney. We can be reached at 800-682-8331 or by email. Lawyer and staff must return all client calls same day. Client emails are usually replied to within the same business day and seem to be the preferred and most efficient method of communication for most clients.

Dell & Schaefer Client Reviews   *****

Michael M.

We need more lawyers like Rachel Alters with an understanding heart and mind. May God bless you and your staff. I enjoyed working with Rachel and thank you so very much. I’m am very happy that I chose Dell & Schaefer as my law firm to handle and monitor my claim with Hartford.

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