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.

Questions About Hiring Us

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   *****

John S.

Integrity and honesty is an important attribute to me. My Dell & Schaefer (D&S) attorneys meet and share these attributes. D&S have an entire staff dedicated to serving their clients. They’re all very approachable and friendly while keeping the client’s best interests at the forefront. You can contact or call them at the drop of a hat and they’ll assist you. You’re not treated like a number; you’re a respected individual and friend. They care. That’s how they make me feel. They often ask how I’m doing; how I’m feeling (I’m in a lot of pain). Most of all, under their protective umbrella, you don’t have to deal with the insurance company. D&S does all that. They keep things straight. It’s comforting. I would not hesitate to recommend them first and foremost for any disability legal needs.

I’m a retired Army Soldier. I’ve been disabled for about four and a half years. I was working for a company (post-military retirement) when I became disabled after an unsuccessful service connected C-spinal surgery that caused me serious complications. My disability is permanent. I had disability insurance with the company that I worked for as an added benefit. After I went down, and once I met the 6 month period for long term disability, the Hartford insurance company began paying monthly disability payments; however, they were always requesting additional information. It was always repetitive information, non-stop, i.e., asking for the same information I had provided only a few months prior.

They wanted repetitive doctors’ statements. I saw many doctors in my state in an attempt to fix or reverse what was damaged during my surgery in an attempt to return to work. My doctors all said the same thing. My medical condition was permanent. They all said I would not improve or get any better through more surgery or physical therapy. In fact, it might have gotten worse if I tried more surgery. There was nothing the neurosurgeons could do for me other than pain management, and continued PT for pain management to improve my quality of life. My disability insurance company continued to hound me for additional information despite what the doctors had already provided to them. It was ridiculous and it was obvious that the insurance company was trying to find anything to negate the policy.

About 18 months ago the Hartford insurance company requested an “in-home” interview with me. Despite the fact that my medical documentation was excellent and well documented regarding my disability, I had grown tired of dealing with this company on my own. It had become stressful to the point that my health was suffering even more. I had no idea how to handle this powerful company at the pending interview and I felt I needed legal representation to get them off my back protect my rights during the interview. That’s when I decided to enlist the help of Gregory Dell. I found him on the internet, watched several of his You-tube videos, and I was convinced that he was the legal representation I needed to guide me and protect me from this insurance company and my right to disability benefits.

From the moment I contacted Gregory Dell and his attorney associate Alex Palamara, the lead attorney who handles my case, I was treated with respect and dignity. With little notice, both of these attorney’s guided me through a successful interview with the insurance company. They were present (via telecom) during the entire interview, which took about two hours. They had told me to be myself and to be totally honest with the investigator during the interview. That I was, but when I was offering too much information to the investigator, they would tell me when to stop. They’re experts in disability legal matters. I’m not and I listened carefully to their advice and direction. I’m glad I did.

***** 5 stars based on 202 reviews

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