Who We Help

Our disability insurance lawyers help any individual that is seeking short or long term disability insurance benefits from an insurance company. We have helped thousands of disability insurance claimants nationwide with monthly disability benefits ranging from $500 to $90,000 a month. With more than 40 years of disability insurance experience we have helped individuals in almost every occupation and we are familiar with the disability income policies offered by every disability insurance company. We have represented employees from the largest companies in the world and regularly represent business professionals such as doctors, lawyers, consultants, dentist, business owners, veterinarians, executives, accountants, nurses, engineers, pharmacist, analyst, IT pros, managers, pilots, professional athletes, financial advisors, teachers, professors, police officers, sales reps, and government employees. We represent clients nationwide and we encourage you to contact us for a free immediate phone consultation with one of our disability insurance attorneys.

Why Do Disability Companies Ignore Your Job Duties?

Disability insurance companies are trained to look for reasons to deny a claim rather than support claim approval. In a disability insurance claim the definition of "disability" in your disability income policy defines the duties you must be unable to perform in order to qualify for monthly benefits. Most disability policies contain language that in order to get paid benefits you must satisfy either an "own occupation" or "any occupation" definition of disability. Disability insurance companies sell different types of disability income policies and the definition of disability varies in each policy. The challenge in every disability insurance claim is that disability companies manipulatively focus on the generic physical demand classification of your occupation and ignore how your job is actually performed for your employer. The disability company will describe your job generally as one of five physical strength classifications:

S - Sedentary Work

Exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally (Occasionally: activity or condition exists up to 1/3 of the time) and/or a negligible amount of force frequently (Frequently: activity or condition exists from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time) to lift, carry, push, pull, or otherwise move objects, including the human body. Sedentary work involves sitting most of the time, but may involve walking or standing for brief periods of time. Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required only occasionally and all other sedentary criteria are met.

L - Light Work

Exerting up to 20 pounds of force occasionally, and/or up to 10 pounds of force frequently, and/or a negligible amount of force constantly (Constantly: activity or condition exists 2/3 or more of the time) to move objects. Physical demand requirements are in excess of those for Sedentary Work. Even though the weight lifted may be only a negligible amount, a job should be rated Light Work: (1) when it requires walking or standing to a significant degree; or (2) when it requires sitting most of the time but entails pushing and/or pulling of arm or leg controls; and/or (3) when the job requires working at a production rate pace entailing the constant pushing and/or pulling of materials even though the weight of those materials is negligible. NOTE: The constant stress and strain of maintaining a production rate pace, especially in an industrial setting, can be and is physically demanding of a worker even though the amount of force exerted is negligible.

M - Medium Work

Exerting 20 to 50 pounds of force occasionally, and/or 10 to 25 pounds of force frequently, and/or greater than negligible up to 10 pounds of force constantly to move objects. Physical Demand requirements are in excess of those for Light Work.

H - Heavy Work

Exerting 50 to 100 pounds of force occasionally, and/or 25 to 50 pounds of force frequently, and/or 10 to 20 pounds of force constantly to move objects. Physical Demand requirements are in excess of those for Medium Work.

V - Very Heavy Work

Exerting in excess of 100 pounds of force occasionally, and/or in excess of 50 pounds of force frequently, and/or in excess of 20 pounds of force constantly to move objects. Physical Demand requirements are in excess of those for Heavy Work.

The majority of jobs have physical strength requirements of "Sedentary" and disability claim examiners are trained to ignore the mental requirements of your job and the way in which you perform the job for your employer. For example, if you are a person with a job that requires you to use a computer for more than 4 hours a day, then the disability company will determine that if you can sit in a chair for more than four hours a day then you should be able to do your job. The disability carrier will not consider how your pain and discomfort prevents you from focusing and being able to complete your daily job duties. If a job required nothing more than sitting, then a 16 year old with no education or work experience would be able to do every sedentary job as long as he or she could sit for more than 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. When people apply for jobs, the job description requires significantly more than the general definition of "sedentary" listed above.

Tips For Describing Your Occupational Duties

Your disability company's failure to properly evaluate your occupational duties is a technique that they have been using since the 1930's. We work with our clients to present the disability company with very extensive descriptions of their occupational duties. Most employers have job descriptions and we often find that the employer provided descriptions do not accurately describer the material duties that you perform each day. In order to fully describe how our client performed his or her job we have done the following: request copy of our client's daily calendar, obtain statements from co-workers and past supervisors, provide copies of sample work that has been completed by our client, provide a job description from another person with the same job, retain a vocational expert to interview you and describe the job in great detail, request a recorded interview with the disability company and perform industry specific research to make the disability insurance company understand the demands of your job. A disability company cannot reasonably evaluate your claim by simply relying on a generic physical job classification.

Inability to Perform Your Job Duties May Not Qualify You For Disability Benefits

It's important that you understand how "disability" is defined in your policy and if the definition of disability will change after a certain period of time. Every word in your policy definition of disability has specific meaning that can impact your eligibility. Our disability lawyers are available to provide you with a free review of your disability insurance policy. Let's take a look below at some of the most common definitions of "disability".

Own Occupation Disability

The "own occupation" definition, also known as "regular occupation", is usually defined as the inability to perform the substantial and material duties of his/her regular occupation. Unless your disability policy states otherwise, "regular occupation" is the way in which you performed your job for your employer before you became disabled. This means that your job title is irrelevant and the insurance companies must perform a close analysis of how you performed your job. Unfortunately, there are many policies that are not truly "own occupation" definitions of disability, because the policy will define "regular occupation" to mean how your job is performed in the national economy and not how your job is performed for your employer. We call this the "national economy" definition of disability. The national economy definition is a problem in many claims because a job title does not always match the way a job is generally performed. There have been hundreds of cases litigated as a result of claims being denied due to the way in which the disability company defines how a person's job is performed in the national economy. When dealing with the national economy definition of disability, we work with vocational experts and other members of your profession to define the job as close as possible to how you performed your job. There are many own occupation definitions of disability that may allow you to collect your full monthly disability an work in a different occupation.

Any Occupation Disability

In many policies after 12 or 24 months of a "regular occupation" definition of disability, the definition of disability will change to the inability to perform any job for which you have experience, education or training. This is known as the "any occupation" definition and is similar to the social security definition of disability. In some disability policies, "any occupation" will be defined as the inability to perform any job that pays at least 60% of what you were earning prior to your disability. It is common for disability claims to be denied when a claimant transitions from the regular occupation definition of disability to any occupation. The evaluation of a claimant's eligibility for a change in definition usually starts 4-6 months prior the change of definition date.

Total And Residual Disability

Many long-terms disability income policies provide for both total and residual (partial) disability benefits. Total disability, another name for "own occupation", is usually defined as the inability to perform the substantial and material duties of your occupation, or some variation thereof. Residual disability is often defined as the inability to perform one or more duties of your regular occupation, or the inability to perform these duties for as much time as before, and you have suffered a loss of at least 20% of your pre-disability income. Residual disability is intended to allow a claimant to continue working in their occupation and receive monthly disability payments based upon a percentage of income loss each month. For example, if a claimant is working while disabled and earns 50% of his or her pre-disability income, then the claimant would be eligible for 50% of the monthly benefits. We have handled many cases where a claimant should be considered totally disabled and the disability company is wrongfully paying residual disability benefits. In some cases a claimant will not be eligible for life-time benefits if they are considered residually disabled instead of totally disabled. Read about a case we handled for a dentist that was wrongfully classified as residually disabled when he should have been totally disabled.

It is imperative to always have a strong understanding of the definition of disability in your policy. We constantly work with our clients to make sure that their medical records contain the appropriate support to satisfy the appropriate definition of disability. The number one reason for denial is that the medical records don't contain sufficient information to the support the claim. It is essential that your treating doctors understand your definition of disability so that your medical records can be properly documented. We work with our clients and the doctors to help make sure your records contain the required information. We also like to make sure that your doctor discusses your occupational duties with you. The insurance companies can attempt to call your doctors at anytime and if your doctor does not understand why you cannot perform your job, then the chances of getting disability benefits is very slim. We recommend that your doctor never speak to the insurance company without first speaking to you. We will educate you and your doctor so that the proper information can be supplied to your disability company. We always offer a free phone consultation and we welcome you to contact us at any stage of your disability benefit claim to learn how we can assist you.


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   *****

Cynthia B.

I learned in March 2014, that my LTD insurance provider was auditing my case. Two weeks later I received a denial letter. I didn’t even have time to provide the info requests to my doctors much less have them completed and sent back to the LTD company. I promptly called the rep who fumbled about for a few minutes then stated that the letter was mistakenly sent to me. The rep (I’ll refer to him as L) was often rude and aggressive even bordering on threatening on the phone.

They did not contact me from early June, I think, until September when L called me to inform me that my payments had already been stopped and a denial letter was in route. This letter informed me I had not complied in getting information from my Doctors and, he claimed in part that since they were not responsive to the insurance company, I was now in receipt of this denial letter. After all he claimed, I really was just fine (not quoted but implied in my opinion). I had not heard a word from L in 3 months prior to that call. I had been promised I no longer had to talk to L after I complained to the insurance company. How surprised I was to pick up a call from L. He seemed quite pleased to let me know they had already stopped my payments. Long story short, like you perhaps, I was scared and had no idea where to turn. Did I need to find a local attorney? That’s what I started doing. I quickly learned there were a lot of people who had or were currently going through the same thing. Misery really does seem to love company.

I started reading other people’s stories and often ran into the Dell & Schaefer name. I was skeptical. I mean, who chooses an attorney over the internet? I learned there were topics this law firm had placed on You Tube? I intently read everyone of them. I admittedly was impressed as they carefully described the process and what to expect. I read more than once. I called the national number listed. I made my choice when I spoke with Alexander Palamara, Esc. He was very informative, confident and encouraging. All of which I was not feeling prior to that call. I made my decision and never looked back. I knew without question that I would never be able to win this case on my own. I was so naive that I didn’t understand that what I thought was a very reputable and certainly well known Insurance company, would blatantly lie. They did. My attorney learned during the discovery process that they had, had much of the information they said they never got. They had had it for months. I never had to wait for response from Alexander, my attorney. If he was not available, his assistant would contact me. I was always in the loop and well informed. I was still shocked at the glaring discrepancies noted in my filing as opposed to what was noted by the insurance company’s denial letter. Some say, “Trust but verify”. I would Strongly recommend, “Don’t trust And Verify!” Act as early as you are able. Expect to provide your doctors names, addresses and phone numbers and dates. Then expect to be well represented. It’s well worth your time and money to pursue your case with Dell & Schaefer.

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