If you were approved for short-term disability, you’re likely to be approved for long-term disability too, right?
The answer is that it depends on whether the same company is handling your short-term and long-term disability benefits. Sometimes there’s no overlap between short-term disability and long-term disability claims, which means a different person will handle your claims. And that may also mean your long-term disability claim may be reviewed more aggressively than your short-term disability claim.
Here’s what you need to know to prepare as you transition from a short-term to a long-term disability benefits claim.
Putting yourself in the best position to be approved for long-term disability benefits
The key to all disability claims is obtaining high-quality medical evidence to support your injury. You need to see your doctor regularly, and your doctor needs to document your disability in your medical file.
If your short-term disability benefits last roughly 90 to 180 days, that’s not a lot of time to gather medical evidence supporting your condition. During this time, you probably need to see your primary care doctor and a specialist. Sometimes it can be hard to get in to see a specialist, so those records can be hard to obtain. If you have a chronic condition that you’ve been treating for a while, you likely have a paper trail. But if not, get in to see your doctor as soon as you can.
The key to filing an application for long-term disability benefits is timing. Most disability policies require you to file no more than one year from the date you became disabled. Some other limitations may apply, which is why it’s important to consult a lawyer experienced in handling disability claims.
Note that you can still apply for long-term disability benefits even if your short-term benefits are denied or terminated. One set of benefits does not affect the other.
Notifying the long-term disability carrier about your transition
Depending on your situation, you may need to notify your long-term disability carrier that you plan to apply for benefits.
You may receive the forms automatically if you have the same insurance carrier for both short- and long-term disability. This is probably the case for most disability applicants.
But if your employer uses a third-party administrator, you should put the company on notice sooner rather than later so the insurance company can start looking at your file. This process can be time-consuming, because the insurer will likely want to review all of your information from scratch.
And typically, the long-term insurance carrier will expect more paperwork to support your claim. You should plan to complete a claimant statement, just as you did for your short-term claim, an attending physician statement, and questionnaires about your education, work history, and activities of daily living.
Your long-term disability carrier may also require you to apply for benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. That’s because any benefits you receive from Social Security will reduce what your long-term insurance carrier has to pay.
It’s important to get all of this paperwork done right and on time, or you may give the insurance company another reason to deny your benefits claim.
Remember that the disability carrier’s goal is to get you back to work
Long-term disability insurance carriers want you to get back to work. They don’t want to pay out disability benefits to you forever. So, your insurer will look at your condition and ask how long your recovery might take before you can return to work. The insurance company’s goal is to get you off the policy and back on the job.
At the law firm of Hunter & Everage, our goal is to help you get the benefits you deserve. If you have questions about whether your disability entitles you to short-term or long-term benefits, get in touch. One of our experienced disability lawyers will evaluate your claim and suggest what your next steps should be.