Getting Started With A Long Term Disability Claim
If you are getting ready to file for long term disability because of an injury or serious medical condition, there is a lot to consider - when to file, how to gather the evidence you need, how to convince the insurance company that you are disabled under the terms and conditions of your long term disability policy. One of the keys to a successful long term disability claim is your doctor.
How do You Talk to Your Doctor About Long Term Disability?
Your treating physician, or any doctor who has treated you for the injury or illness that caused your disability, is critical to a successful ERISA long term disability claim. But how and when do you get your doctor involved?
First - you have to read the disability insurance policy (this is the answer to a lot of long term disability claim questions...) to determine exactly how it defines disability. Chances are, your doctor has a different definition of disability or thinks of the term "disability" differently.
Your doctor has never read your disability policy - he doesn't know what it says or how it defines disability.
Does disability mean you can't do any work at all? Does it mean you can't do critical functions of your job? Does it mean you can't do the essential functions of your job? How long does it have to last? Is there a medical condition that may be excluded that you also get treatment for?
We talk to a lot of physicians and experts for our clients, and most treating physicians do want to help their patients.
But they don't know the answers to these types of questions. And without knowing that, they can actually hurt your case, even though you are legitimately disabled and can't work due to a serious injury or medical condition.
Remember These 3 Tips When Talking to Your Doctor About Long Term Disability
There are several things to keep in mind when talking to your doctor:
1. Doctors are busy - really busy. You may need to request and pay for extra time to see your doctor and discuss your condition because a routine visit may not give you enough time. Most doctors have a separate fee schedule for their time to handle legal matters - write reports, work as expert witnesses, complete forms. See if your doctor can do this - and above all be prepared when you meet with him. Even 15 minutes of undivided attention can make a big difference in helping your doctor understand what you need to give to the insurance company.
2. You need to give your doctor all of the important information (obviously this includes telling him the complete truth about your condition and limitations you have, but it's more than that). This may be reports of other doctors you've seen, Functional Capacity Evaluations, testing results, physical therapy evaluations. You can't assume that your doctor has seen these records or has all of this information. Be prepared to review it with him - so make sure you know exactly what is in your medical records.
3. Your doctor may need your job description - you can't assume he or she knows all of the physical aspects of what you do at work. Here's an example: Are you a security guard? Does that mean you sit at a fancy D.C. office lobby watching people swipe their fobs when they come back from lunch? Or does it mean you are a security guard at a place where you break up fights, apprehend suspects, detain people and carry a firearm? Don't let your doctor guess about this. Give him a detailed job description that you prepared of the things you actually do at work, not some sanitized corporate job description your company has.
It's hard to talk to doctors and medical specialists - they're busy and would rather be practicing medicine than filling out forms and writing reports. But it's important to get your doctor all of the information, so it's in your medical records and you can use it in your long term disability claim.
As long term disability lawyers, we work with your physicians, specialists and other experts.
We do everything we can to put your case in the best position to get the benefits you deserve, no matter where you are in the process. Call us or contact us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to get more information on how we can help you best prepare to file your long term disability claim or file your appeal after your claim was denied.
And remember – our How To Talk to Your Doctor Tips apply to all kinds of cases and situations! Just ask.