One common question we’re asked here at Dell & Schaefer is, “exactly how long a disabled claimant needs to be out of work before they can apply for long term disability insurance benefits?” The answer can vary from case to case based on a disability insurance claimant’s unique circumstances, and there’s no one-size-fits-all response. Learn more about the factors used to determine how long a disability insurance claimant should be out of work before applying for disability insurance benefits, as well as how long you can expect a decision to take.
Factors That Apply To How Long A Disability Insurance Claimant Needs To Be Out of Work Before Applying for Benefits
There are several factors to be considered when deciding when to file a claim under a long term disability (LTD) policy. These include:
- How long you expect to be unable to work;
- The level and timing of notice your insurance carrier requires;
- How long your disability policy’s “elimination period” lasts; and
- Whether you can cover your bills on a reduced income or need to ensure that your disability benefits begin as soon as possible.
In many cases, it’s better to file sooner than later for disability insurance benefits, especially if you ultimately wind up appealing a disability insurance claim that’s denied. However, because filing a claim for long term disability insurance benefits can launch an investigative process that involves multiple phone calls, requests for information, and even video surveillance to see whether the claimant is exaggerating their disability, some claimants want to delay this process as long as they can, hoping they’ll instead be able to return to their job.
When To Put The Insurance Company On Notice That You May Be Applying For Benefits
In some cases, particularly those implicating short term disability policies, the terms of the claimant’s employment require the claimant to notify their employer before going out on leave. For example, if an employee is pregnant or planning a knee replacement surgery, they may be required to notify their company that they’re going to be out of the office for a certain period.
But how much advance notice is required to the disability insurance company? And is it always required? Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to think of putting your LTD insurance company on notice if you’re getting close to using all your paid time off or if you’re not sure how long you’ll be out on disability leave. Even if a long term disability policy has an elimination period of 90 or 180 days (meaning this is how long a claimant will need to be disabled before they become eligible for long term disability benefits), a claimant often can benefit by getting the ball rolling before the 90 days elapses, working to ensure their disability claim can begin being paid immediately upon approval.
Disability Insurance Companies Rarely Make a Claim Decision In Under 60 Days
Even if your disability insurance carrier has all the documentation and data it needs to decide on a particular LTD claim, claimants shouldn’t hold their breath that such a decision will arrive within 60 days. Carriers often take their time on this initial determination and may do everything from conducting video surveillance of the claimant to contacting their doctors to see whether there’s any basis on which to deny the disability insurance claim. By essentially stalling the case, the insurance carrier may be able to increase the financial pressure on the disability insurance claimant (whose paid time off may have expired some time ago) and see whether the claimant can return to work.
If you need help navigating the when’s and how’s of your long term disability insurance claim, contact Dell & Schaefer to set up your FREE consultation with a disability insurance attorney today.