Nurse Disability Insurance Claims Tips to Get Disability Benefits Approved

Nursing can be one of the most demanding but rewarding professions out there. Unfortunately, for many nurses, the physical demands of the job – from long, break-free shifts to communicable disease exposure to the years of wear and tear of lifting heavy patients – can sometimes be career-ending. Read on for some tips that can help nurses who are seeking long term disability benefits.

You must understand the definition of “disability” in your policy.

Each long term disability insurance policy is a little different, and these policies can vary based on region, insurance carrier, and even the age of the claimant. By understanding how your long term disability insurance policy defines “disability,” you’ll be better able to tailor your claim for benefits to the policy’s definitions, improving the odds that your claim will be approved.

Nurses have a unique advantage when it comes to filing a long term disability claim – they know medical records forward and backward. Most nurses have no problem assembling the medical record for a disability claim, though an attorney can still help when it comes to crafting the disability claim package to adequately showcase every way in which the disabling condition affects the way you perform your job.

“Regular Occupation” is a policy term that may not reflect how you performed your duties as a nurse.

There are dozens of different subspecialties within the nursing profession, and the “regular occupation” definition – which defines a nurse’s duties based on the national economy – doesn’t usually cover all the ins and outs of a nurse’s specific position. Most insurance carriers rely on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to establish the baseline duties for a claimant, but because nurses’ duties have evolved significantly over the last two decades, this dictionary simply has not kept up.

Working with a vocational expert helps to clarify the reasonable duties of a nurse.

The definition of “nurse” in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles is not necessarily binding on a disability claimant. One of the tools in a disability claimant’s arsenal is the use of a vocational expert. These experts will interview the claimant and generate a comprehensive report that goes above and beyond the dictionary definition of “nurse” to encompass everything the claimant does during a day (or week) at work.

Many nurses have very physically-demanding jobs that can involve lifting and moving patients who weigh up to 300 pounds, repetitively using their hands or arms, and spending up to 12 hours a day on their feet. And because most nurses’ positions are so patient-focused, a nurse who is on the job while experiencing serious pain or illness may not be able to provide an adequate level of patient care.

Your policy may have provisions that can limit your benefit payments to 12 or 24 months.

Many nurses’ long term disability policies are provided and paid by their employers. Unfortunately, these group policies have more extensive limitations than private long term disability policies, which can affect a nurse’s ability to collect disability benefits.

One disadvantage of these group policies is that they often have inadequate coverage for mental health claims, limiting the benefit period to 12 to 24 months. Furthermore, “invisible” illnesses like chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or certain autoimmune conditions are often limited to a 12 to 24 month benefit period.

Strong medical documentation by your doctors and medical testing may be required to get disability benefits paid.

One of the most impactful things a nurse can do to support their long term disability claim is something they’re already used to doing—keeping contemporaneous records and notes of how their disability is affecting them. By adding these notes to the medical records that are already in place, a nurse can present a strong claim for disability benefits and clear proof of how this disability is impacting the nurse’s ability to do their job.

In some cases, this medical documentation can also include cognitive testing. Nurses are often charged with administering life and death decisions on behalf of the patients in their care, and a nurse who can’t concentrate because of the level of pain they’re in may be a risk. On the other end of the spectrum, a nurse who must take prescription pain medication to make it through a shift may not be in the proper mental state to be responsible for patient care decisions. Don’t let your disability insurance carrier understate the extent to which your job requires a clear, focused head.

If you have a chronic medical condition, then you must prepare your disability claim in advance to get approved.

One question insurance carriers often ask is whether nurses can continue to work if they’re performing a sedentary or light duty job instead of a medium- to heavy-duty one. But “sedentary” doesn’t mean physically effortless, and many nurses who have been fighting through the pain for years may be unable to perform even sedentary work on a full-time basis.

The attorneys at Dell & Schaefer have helped hundreds of nurses throughout the U.S. recover long term disability benefits under the terms of an employer-paid disability policy. If you’d like to learn more or want to set up your free initial consultation, get in touch with one of our experienced long term disability attorneys today.

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Disability Benefit Denial Options
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We help claimants throughout the entire application process.

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Negotiate a Lump-Sum Settlement

Our goal is to negotiate the highest possible buyout of your long-term disability policy.

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Disability Company Reviews
Showing 8 of 641 Reviews
New York Life

Keeps claiming they will not approve claim for pre existing conditions but my illness is not preexisting

Reviewed by M.T. on February 15th 2024   Verified Policyholder | May 2023 date of disability
I have been appealing a claim for LTD for 8 months! New York Life keeps claiming they will not approve claim for pre existing conditions but my illness is not preexisting ... read more >
Reliance Standard

Staff Lie

Reviewed by Tanya on February 12th 2024   Verified Policyholder | August 2021 date of disability
I had my disability cut off the day I was scheduled to find out whether I should have surgery. The claims examiner was aware that I had an appointment on that date and sai... read more >
Sent on February 12th 2024 by Attorney Gregory Dell

I am sorry to hear about your experience. It’s crazy that Reliance Standard would deny your disability benefits when you are suffering so badly that you need surgery.... read more >


Former Hartford employee has had life insurance and accidental death policy's revoked for one late premium payment

Reviewed by Becky H. THOMAS on February 12th 2024   Verified Policyholder | February 2024 date of disability
Dislike how they are constantly interrupting the lives of their disabled EE's whom are entitled to benefit which they paid into out of there pay check every pay period onl... read more >
Sent on February 12th 2024 by Attorney Gregory Dell

Thank you for your review of Hartford and we appreciate you sharing.  It’s sad they don’t take care of their own employees.

Lincoln Financial

Never received benefits my entire leave - or help with them

Reviewed by Anna on December 19th 2023   Verified Policyholder | November 2023 date of disability
I used my short term disability insurance for maternity leave and started the process beforehand knowing when I would be out (scheduled induction.) It took a little over a... read more >
Sun Life

Unscrupulous Tactics

Reviewed by Misseekayy on December 19th 2023   Verified Policyholder | May 2023 date of disability
Sunlife uses unscrupulous tactics in order to prevent payment of claims. They wait until it is close to the 30 day mark and then they ask for another form of information o... read more >
Sun Life

SunLife's behavior is outlandish and criminal to say the very least

Reviewed by Nancy Nurse on May 12th 2016   Verified Policyholder
I have a super-pubic catheter and am having to use a cane for ambulation. Sunlife is dragging their feet with paying my LTD. They say that “Just because I have a cathete... read more >
Sent on May 12th 2016 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

Nancy, do you know what the effective date of your LTD benefit? Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your situation in greater detail.

New York Life

This has been a very long and hard road

Reviewed by Jawanna S. on September 23rd 2015   Verified Policyholder
I worked for 13 years as a Registered Nurse, since 1999. I worked in many fields, but the last 7 years I worked on an ICU cardiac care unit. I actually became ill in 2001 ... read more >
Sent on September 23rd 2015 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

Jawanna, please feel free to contact our office to discuss how we can potentially assist you in appealing both of your claims.


Hartford has financially crippled us. I was so mislead

Reviewed by Linda VanDenHeuvel on March 31st 2011   Verified Policyholder
Hello, my name is Linda VanDenHeuvel. I’m a Registered Nurse who worked in emergency departments for 32 years as a Trauma Nurse Specialist. For 13 years, I paid premiums... read more >
Sent on March 31st 2011 by Attorney Gregory Dell

Linda, your Hartford policy probably has an offset for social security disability. Hartford will likely deny you after they recoup the ssdi overpayment. If you have pro... read more >

Answered Questions by Our Lawyers
Showing 5 of 5 Answered Questions

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Our goal is to get your application for disability income benefits approved. Applying for disability benefits can be a difficult process and the information you provide is critical. Most disability insurance companies look at your application in hopes of finding a reason to deny your claim. Your disability company will ask you to complete numerous forms, interview you, request lots of information, speak with your doctors and possibly request to have you examined by their "hired gun" doctor.

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Preparing a strong disability appeal package is an art that requires you to understand how the courts interpret your disability policy language, ERISA regulations / laws, and how to strategically present evidence in support of your definition of "disability". We encourage you to contact any of our lawyers for a free immediate review of your disability denial.

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We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients and we would like the opportunity to provide you with a free review of your disability benefit denial. There are many complex factors in a disability benefit lawsuit and the legal battle to win long term disability benefits can be fierce.

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Questions About Hiring Us

Who are Dell Disability Lawyers?

We are disability insurance lawyers that know how to get your short or long term disability benefits paid. As a nationwide law firm we have helped thousands of disability insurance claimants throughout the United States to collect hundreds of millions of dollars of disability insurance benefits from every major disability insurance company.

In more than 98% of our cases, our lawyers have been able to either get our clients paid monthly disability benefits or obtain a one-time lump-sum settlement. Our lawyers have seen it all when it comes to disability insurance claims and we know exactly what it takes for your disability claim to be approved.

We welcome you to contact any of our attorneys for a free immediate review of your disability claim. We also invite you to visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel where we have more than 700 videos and regularly provide tips to help protect your disability benefits.

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Our lawyers help individuals that have either purchased a long term disability insurance policy from an insurance company or obtained short or long term disability insurance coverage as a benefit from their employer. We have helped individuals in almost every type of occupation with monthly disability benefit payments ranging from $1,500 to $50,000.

Our clients include all types of employees ranging from retail associates, sales representatives, government employees, police officers, teachers, janitors, nurses, pilots, truck drivers, financial advisors, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, consultants, IT professionals, engineers, professional athletes, business owners, and high level executives.

A strong understanding and presentation of the duties of your occupation is essential for securing disability insurance benefits.

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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 phone, email, fax, GoToMeeting 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 800-698-9159 or by email. Lawyers 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.