• How Do I Qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits?

How Do I Qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits?

If you’re suffering from a condition that makes it difficult for you to work, you may wonder, “Do I qualify for disability insurance benefits?” Many American workers are covered under either a group or individual policy, and these policies can pay out tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits to those who are too injured or ill to work. But qualifying for disability insurance benefits can be a tricky process. Learn more about some of the key factors that go into a disability determination.

The Starting Point of a Disability Claim

Most disability claims stem from an illness or injury that prevents the claimant from effectively and adequately performing their job. But to be approved for disability benefits, the claimant will need to do more than show a doctor’s note – they’ll need to be able to provide medical records showing that these functional limits make full-time work impossible. The disability insurance claimant may also need to fight back against allegations that the complained-of injury or illness is a pre-existing condition.

Getting Your Disability Insurance Policy

If you have a group disability insurance policy through your employer, by law, your employer’s human resources (HR) department is required to provide you with a copy of your policy upon request. If you’re concerned about the potential of retaliation, you can always inform your HR personnel that your financial advisor, estate planner, or insurance agent asked you to gather copies of all your insurance policies to have on hand.

The disability insurance policy holds the key to your disability insurance  claim. Each long term disability policy is a little different, so without having the policy itself on hand, it’s very hard to make any sweeping generalizations about whether a claimant will qualify or how much they can receive in benefits.

Pre-Existing Conditions and Disability Coverage

Each policy defines “pre-existing conditions” in its own way. Generally speaking, a pre-existing condition is anything that appears within a year or so into the new disability policy. For example, someone who seeks a disability determination for back pain just six months into a new job (and new disability policy) is far less likely to be approved than someone who seeks a disability determination after being covered for 10 years. The disability insurance carrier may go over the disability claimant’s medical records with a fine-toothed comb to see whether the claimant has previously visited a doctor for anything close to the complained-of condition.

Why Medical Support is So Important

Many disability claims are decided on a “dry record” – documents and legal briefs instead of witness testimony or closing statements. As a result, having thorough and consistent medical records is crucial to any long term disability claim. Claimants who haven’t secured the support of their doctor before filing a disability claim are unlikely to succeed, while those whose medical records lack detail may not be able to meet their burden of proof when it comes to establishing disability.

When to File for Disability Insurance Benefits

So many disabling conditions tend to be chronic, growing just a little worse each day. If you’re in this state of limbo, you may wonder about the best time to file for disability insurance benefits. Should you file now, or wait until you’re unable to hold down any job? The answer, as always, depends on your specific circumstances. But generally, the thicker your medical file and the more physician documentation you have, the better positioned you’ll be to receive long term disability benefits. If your file currently looks a little thin, a disability attorney can work with you to see what sort of documentation you’ll need to improve your odds of success.

A Successful Disability Claim Must Be Good on Paper

Most disability claims and appeals never see the inside of a courtroom – which means a judge will never be able to hear testimony about your claim or see firsthand the effects of your disability. Because your claim will be decided on a dry administrative record, having a claim that’s “good on paper” can minimize the risk of your claim being denied. If your claim has already been denied, consider it an opportunity to further build up your record by undergoing functional capacity tests or a vocational assessment.

If you’re wondering whether you qualify for disability insurance income benefits, or need some help with your disability insurance claim, our network of disability insurance attorneys can help. Contact Dell & Schaefer today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case.

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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.

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