What is the advantage to a person having an attorney present for a field interview?
As we were discussing earlier, these interviews are made to elicit certain statements from you. It’s almost like a deposition. Obviously you are not making objections, you are making a record but what you are telling them can be used against you and it’s important that you have your lawyer there representing your interest, understanding what that process is going to be about and also therefore, the consistency of what they are going to say your statements are later on and what they are going to put into their claim file in their record. It’s going to be important because they may put something in there that is completely different from what you said or you thought you said and your attorney is there taking notes, they are there advising you if you need to take a break, you need to talk to a lawyer. They are there to do that.
So, two other things, I always find: that the preparation of the claimant for the field interview is essential and in order to do that, especially from our perspective, we have to have the complete claim file, not the claim but all the correspondence back and forth between the carrier and the claimant. We have to have a copy of all the medical records of the claimants, to see if the doctors are documenting the restrictions and limitations that are consistent with what the claimant is saying, he or she can’t do. We have to have the financial records to see if the financials are consistent with what the claimants are saying to the disability company, the amount of money they were earning. So I find that the preparation is extremely important for those field interviews. And also, I find that, whenever I am at field interviews I am always interjecting comments to clarify something that I think could immediately be a red flag or something that the field interview person is honing in on to try to shape the claim towards a certain area that, myself especially, knowing the definition of disability policy, knowing certain limitations or things that could jeopardize benefits, I am going to tell the claim person right there to make sure that they have that written down, so that it is clear to the company that this is our position and not what they are trying to make it to be.
Exactly, I experienced it today but before touching in on one thing you said with regards to preparing for field interview, having an idea about the financials, all the medical records, all those go back in the cases in the claims where I am going to assist in the applications, because the field interviews, a lot of times comes before benefits have been approved and there has been a decision. So the good thing about having an attorney early on is that they have reviewed everything and you can start to see where there might be red flags. And like you said, the field interviewer today, (I had it) – they started going into policy language, trying to define what the term substantial meant, and they were trying to elicit information from the client and the clients have no idea what it means. So realistically it’s illegal, so it’s a matter or really making sure you don’t get pigeon holed.
Often times they have not seen the policy since the day they purchased it. And then they are asked – what do you think this means? What does this thing mean to you? And it’s just another way for the carrier to use the statement that you made against you even though you could say – I think that maybe you are right, maybe I am partially disabled when I read this definition. But in reality they are not, maybe in reality they are totally disabled because they cannot do the essential duties that are your bread and butter.