Sometimes, it happens in an instant. Sometimes, it has been building for months or even years. Either way, the result is the same: you can no longer do your job. Now what?

With the disclaimer that every case is unique, here are some steps in common to nearly all claims for disability benefits:

  1. Does your employer offer disability benefits? Some do, some don’t. Employers are not required to offer disability insurance, but many do, especially larger employers. Call Human Resources to find out.
  2. If the answer is No, your other option may be to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. That will be the topic of another article!
  3. If the answer is Yes, your employer does offer disability benefits, ask for a copy of the Policy and the Summary Plan Description.
  4. Read the Policy documents carefully. They should tell you the specific steps you’ll need to take to apply for disability benefits. Sometimes you work through Human Resources, but often there is an outside insurance company to administer claims. You’ll work with them directly.
  5. Policy documents will tell you very important information, such as: 
  • What makes you disabled (there will be a specific definition of Disabled and Disability)
  • How long you need to be disabled before benefit payments start (this is usually called the Elimination Period).
  • How much your disability benefit is (it’s normally a percentage of your salary. 60-80% is common).
  • What you need to provide to get benefits (called Proof of Claim).
  • How to get started on your claim (often a phone call is all it takes, and then the insurance company will send you some forms to fill out as they determine whether or not to approve your claim).
  1. The Most Important Things to keep in mind:
  • YOU have to provide Proof of Claim. The insurance company may help by requesting medical records for you, but ultimately it is YOUR responsibility to get them the forms they need from you and your doctor as well as your medical records.
  • Talk to your doctor about your disability claim. There is no way around it: you have to have medical support to make a disability claim.

How BenGlassLaw Can Help

You do not need a lawyer to apply for disability benefits (you do need to talk to a lawyer if your disability claim is denied, which is why we review insurance company denial letters for free). But if you have specific questions about your policy, or are concerned about whether you’ll be able to provide Proof of Claim, call us. We offer a flat-fee consultation with Ben – he’ll review your policy and your recent medical records and discuss the best path forward for YOU as you chart this new and often confusing course.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.