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Long Term Disability Topics for Doctors and Dentists

What Doctors and Dentists Need to Know About Their Long Term Disability Claim

If you are a health care provider (physician, surgeon, dentist, chiropractor, plastic surgeon, orthodontist), you have spent a lifetime on your education and training to get to where you are. You've probably also had a mentor along the way to guide you, too.

Because you are on BenGlassLaw.comwe are confident that something has happened to you that affects either your cognitive ability, your energy level, your vision, or your manual dexterity. Perhaps you can't stand as long as you once could in order to do your procedures. In some cases, not only is your enjoyment of your chosen profession going down but, the safety of your patients may be at risk.  

You cannot put the safety of your patients at risk. You know that. We know that. Your malpractice insurance carrier knows that. But, when you filed your long term disability claim you started hearing this from the long term disability insurance company. Your job is sedentary, you don't have to lift anything often, therefore you must be able to do your job. You were diagnosed a long time ago and have worked for a long time with this condition, nothing has changed.

You didn't tell the Board of Medicine about this, did you?

All of your complaints, including any cognitive complaints, are self-reported, there is no objective medical evidence that supports your claim.

Fatigue? Everyone's a little tired these days, what's the big deal? You learned to overcome fatigue in your residency. You are a doctor but your own doctors can't even agree on what your diagnosis is! You know you can't have a claim without a diagnosis.

If you are thinking you need to file for long term disability benefits and you are a typical health care provider, I know you think you can handle the claim yourself. Of course, this is what you think, you have always been a self-starter.

How hard could this be, my claim is obvious. You also may have thought there's no way I would trade my high income and work that I like doing for this small disability payment, so surely they will accept what my doctors and I are saying. Then the insurance adjuster started raising one or more of the points above. Your claim may even have already been denied. Maybe you came across our "Don't just say I APPEAL video." Maybe you landed on

You may even have started to look for a coach or mentor for this area of your life and came across my video where I rant against fake disability lawyers.

Know that you are in the right place at BenGlassLaw.

If you have doctor support for your claim, we can be your mentor. If you don't yet have clear support we can discuss a strategy for clarifying and providing the necessary objective medical evidence for your claim. Either way, we will walk with you through this part of your life's journey.

How the BenGlassLaw Long Term Disability Team Helps Doctors, Dentists, and Other Health Care Providers

If you have a letter from an insurance company, we’ll review it for free and let you know what we think. There’s no obligation and we do it for free. If you decide that’s all you need, just let us know and we’ll be here if you need us again in the future. 

If you have a question or want to discuss your claim, we offer a flat-fee initial consultation (currently $600). At a minimum, we will need to review a copy of your disability policy before getting on a call or video chat to discuss your case. If appropriate, we will also review any recent medical records you send us. If you hire us at any point to do additional work on your claim, we will credit the appeal fee to the fee for future work. Often, this is all our clients need to resolve their cases.

7 Ways Disability Claims for Doctors and Dentists Are Different

  1. Doctors (and Dentists) make the worst patients. You tend to diagnose yourself and put off seeing a doctor who’s not you as long as possible. (Almost as bad: you see your good friends who are specialists but who treat you for free and don’t set up a formal medical file for you.) Why does this matter? the insurance company will not consider you disabled until you’ve established medical care (and a proper record of that care) with someone who’s not you.
  2. Doctors and Dentists are devoted to their practices. A lot of people love their jobs, but in many cases, you are your job. You’ve built a practice that so many people rely on. You’ll try anything to keep it going, so applying for disability benefits is the last resort. Why does this matter? The insurance company wants to see “what changed” before they’ll approve a claim. They want to know why you could work Friday but not Monday. If you’ve worked with your disabling condition for a long time, they’ll argue that you could just keep on working.
  3. Doctors and Dentists are expensive. Your monthly salary is high enough that paying your claim is going to be significant for the insurance company. Why does this matter? The insurance company is going to invest resources in exhaustively examining every detail of your claim to try to find a reason not to pay.
  4. Your role is reversed. If you’ve dealt with disability insurance companies before, it was probably because they were coming to you for your opinion about whether your patient was disabled. Why does this matter?  You probably think that if the insurance company sought out your opinion about Patient X, they will value and respect your opinion about Patient You. You would be wrong. They want to hear it from your doctor, not from you, doctor (see pitfall #1).
  5. Your job is highly demanding. In most professions, a little tremor or a slight decline in cognitive function is barely noticeable, much less disabling. Why does this matter? Proving a slight decline in performance to the insurance company’s satisfaction is challenging. Convincing them that “normal” cognitive functioning is disabling in a profession that requires uber high cognitive functioning, or that a “slight tremor” for a dentist or surgeon is very dangerous, even deadly, can be even more challenging (especially if you try to “work through” your limitations without a strategy).
  6. Your policy language is different. Whether you are insured under a group disability policy through your employer or an individual disability policy you bought on your own, your policy language will be highly detailed and very specific about when you are/are not Disabled according to the terms of the policy. Why does this matter? A doctor or dentist with one medical condition may be Disabled according to the definitions used by one policy, but the exact same person with the exact same set of facts may be Not Disabled according to a policy with just slightly different wording. Understanding how your policy has been interpreted by the courts is critical to proving your claim.
  7. Doctors and Dentists can work part-time and often cut back their hours (and earnings) to avoid having to make any claim at all. (See pitfall #2). Why does this matter? Your benefit amount is normally based on what you were earning prior to stopping work, not prior to reducing your hours. If you were earning less, the insurance company will argue that your benefit amount should be less.

The best time to consult a lawyer is before you make a claim. There is a way to strategize through these problems, but it involves thinking about the issues early and working with someone who understands the “founder’s mentality” when it comes to your business.

BenGlassLaw offers a flat-fee consultation for $600. We’ll review any records you want to send us in advance (which should be your disability policy plus any recent medical or other records relevant to your claim) and schedule a meeting with Ben to discuss everything with you. Our goal is to help you “bulletproof” your claim so that your claim is approved, and you never need us again. If we do handle an appeal for you in the future, we’ll credit the $600 consultation fee to the cost of the appeal.

3 Questions Every Health Care Provider Should Ask a Long Term Disability Attorney BEFORE Filing a Claim

  1. How many long term disability lawsuits have you ever filed for people like me? A lawyer who handles only one to five ERISA disability lawsuits a year is a low experience lawyer. BenGlassLaw files more than 80% of all long term disability cases filed in our home state, Virginia. We can file cases all over the country, using local counsel, at no additional cost to you. You do not want a generalist for this highly niched, specialized area of the law. You didn't train under just any mentor to get you where you are today. When your patient needs particular expertise, you tell them to see a specialist. Most of our health care clients tell us they did not want a lawyer who was not a successful, high performer like they are. You can go on Pacer to verify any lawyer's claim about federal litigation experience, but you have to do a Google search to figure out the high-performance part. 
  2. I'm a health care provider thinking about making a claim, can I have a one-on-one coaching session with you? If you haven't yet filed a long term disability claim, spending one hour with Ben Glass will open your eyes to the issues. We promise this. When you find an experienced long term disability attorney, pay for that expertise. You didn't get to a high station in life by choosing the lowest cost alternative, did you? 
  3. What does a pre-application coaching session for a health care provider include? For most claims, you want the lawyer to review your policy and your recent medical records, and then strategize with you about the best path forward. You also want a lawyer who is going to go deep about you. Wait for them to ask this question: "if I were to follow you around for a day and watch you with your patients, (before your medical issues slowed you down) what would I have seen?"

4 Questions An Established Health Care Provider Should Ask a Long Term Disability Attorney AFTER Receiving a Claim Denial

  1. What Happened? An experienced attorney’s office should be able to answer this for you in some detail based only on your denial letter. We have a ton of experience with all the major disability insurance companies (and some you never heard of. We do that for free.)
  2. What’s Next? You are always entitled to at least one appeal of your claim after a denial, but "appealing" won't get you anywhere unless there is a battle-tested plan in place.
  3. Will You Handle My Case All the Way Through to a Lawsuit If Necessary? The only acceptable answer to this is Yes. Here’s why: the same insurance company that just incorrectly decided your claim may also incorrectly decide your appeal. They hate having doctors as claimants because you are a very expensive proposition for them. You WILL be treated differently because of your high income.  
  4. Why does all this matter? Because the law says that in general, no new information can be added to your claim if you have to file a lawsuit after your appeal is denied. If there is evidence you want the judge to consider, you must add it to your appeal. If there are things the insurance company missed in evaluating your claim, you have to present your evidence in the appeal. There’s no such thing as saving your best arguments for the judge in these cases. Your appeal is your one and only chance to add everything a judge might later need to decide your case. DON’T WASTE IT!

The Best $600 Ever Spent by a Doctor

Our best consultation outcome to date was for a physician who drove over a hundred miles from a major medical center here in Virginia to talk with us. He was on claim but had a routine question about his disability policy. When reviewing his folder of documents, we noticed he was not being paid under a policy provision we thought was designed for a physician in his situation. As part of his $600 consultation fee, we wrote a letter to his insurance company raising a question about it. A few weeks later, the insurance company agreed that he had been underpaid and sent him a check for nearly $500,000 for past-due benefits. Best $600 he ever spent (and best “thank you” lunch our team was ever treated to…)!

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