“How long does it take to get disability?”

  This is a hard question to answer because there is not the same answer for every person.

Many different factors affect the amount of time it takes for you to receive long-term disability.

Elimination Periods

All long-term disability policies have some sort of elimination period.  The elimination period is the time between when you become disabled (either by injury or illness) and the time when you can start collecting long-term disability benefits.
Each policy varies based on whether or not your policy offers short-term disability as well.  If it does, then you will have to use up your short-term disability (usually around 26 weeks) before you can receive long-term disability benefits.  If your policy does not have short-term disability benefits, then you are looking at from as little as 16 weeks to as long as one year before you will be able to receive benefits.

Your Health

The more health issues you have, the more medical records you will need to provide to the insurance company.  Each of these could take several weeks to get.
Your long-term disability insurance company can also request a functional capacity examination (FCE) or additional testing such as lab work or imaging to evaluate your medical conditions.  If your insurance company requests you to do any of these, you need to contact a disability lawyer immediately.  These tests will not prove your claim, and could even put your entire claim at risk.  

Request Follow-ups

The insurance company may ask you for additional medical evidence or to fill out more paperwork. If you take your time and do not follow through promptly, your claim will take longer, and you may be denied your initial claim, or even your appeal if you miss a deadline.

Your Doctor

Your doctor can play a big part in how quickly your claim is processed.  The quicker your doctor fills out the paperwork from the insurance company and writes a statement for you, the faster your claim will be reviewed.

Your Initial Clain is Denied

If your initial claim gets denied, you want to appeal the decision.  You have up to 180 days to ask for a reconsideration.  In that time, you need to collect more medical evidence, and at this time, it is highly advised to hire a disability lawyer to help with your case.
Once you appeal, the insurance company has 45 days to make a decision.  They can request an additional 45 days if they do not feel they can make a decision.
Here is the timeline your insurance company must follow in your long-term disability claim. 

So How Long Does it Take to get Long-term Disability?

With all of the different pieces and scenarios, there is no one answer fits all.  The initial application can take up to one year for a decision, and the appeal process can take up to 9 months.  Some policies allow for a second appeal, but not all so check your policy and count on it adding more time if you need to use this extra appeal.
You can also see our article The Timelines of Disability Approval and Denial Letters to give you a better idea of how long it takes to receive an approval or denial.
If you need help at any step in your long-term disability claim process, feel free to contact us.


How Long Does It Take to Get a Disability Approval Letter?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Disability Approval Letter?

How long does it take to get a long-term disability approval letter?

You have sent in your initial application and are not so patiently waiting to hear if you got approved.

In this article we are going to look at the average time it takes to get an approval and what affects the time frame.

Amount of Time From Applying to Getting Your Approval Letter

Typically it takes 2-3 months to get a response after sending in your initial application for long-term disability.  However, this is a best-case scenario.  Many things can delay your insurance company from approving you.  Some of those are in your control, and others are in their control.  Here is an article about timelines involved in ERISA governed long-term disability policies.  

What You Can Do to Make the Approval Process Faster

Make sure your initial long-term disability application is filled out completely and all questions answered to the best of your knowledge.  Include all of your medical records that have to do with your injury or illness that you are claiming for long-term disability.  Adhere to the insurance companies deadlines.  Send them any other medical records or reports they may request after you have sent in your initial application.

What Your Insurance Company Does That May Delay an Approval

The insurance company will try to determine if you are disabled and unable to work.  They will sometimes even go as far as hiring a private investigator to follow you around to try to catch you doing something that you claim you are unable to do!
Insurance companies have also been known to delay to avoid having to pay you. They may not return your phone calls promptly or somehow not receive your faxes or emails.  Honestly, there is a long list of ways that insurance companies can work you over during this process.  Give us a call, and we can give you some more advice.  
Also note, your insurance company may send you to an independent medical examination or a functional capacity evaluation even though your doctors may have provided them with detailed information about your condition.  If they request this of you, it is critical you reach out to a long-term disability lawyer and get briefed on your rights as well as what to expect.   Afterall, they are not sending you to this exam for YOUR benefit! 

Elimination Periods = Built in Delays

Elimination Period
Your long-term disability insurance policy will have an elimination period built in.  An elimination period is the time between when you become disabled and the time when you can receive long-term disability benefits.  The period can range from as little as 17 weeks to as long as one year.  You are required by most insurance companies to use up all of your sick leave and short-term disability benefits before receiving long-term disability. 

What You Should do While You Wait

While you are waiting to hear from the insurance company, you should continue to get medical care as needed and scheduled, tell your doctor about your symptoms and how they limit your ability to function every day and tell your doctors about any side effects you may be having with your medications.  Take all your medications as directed and follow your doctors’ orders to excruciating detail.  Remember, you might have someone watching (spying on) you to see if your conditions are what you claim. 
And, of course, start considering who you may want to work with should your claim for benefits be denied. 


How Long Does a Long Term Disability Claim Last?

How Long Does a Long Term Disability Claim Last?

When you are unable to work for a long period of time, bills and other expenses add up, and quickly.

Long-term disability helps to cover some of those expenses when you are unable to perform at a job for months or even years.

Think of your long-term disability benefits as protection for your income as well as all of your assets.

But how long does long-term disability last?

It all depends on your insurance policy, and your disability.

Elimination Period

The eliminations period of your long-term disability policy can also be known as the waiting period. This is the time you have to wait between applying for your benefits and receiving the benefits. Typically, this will take between thirty and ninety days. There are times however that the elimination period may last up to six months or a year. Most insurance policies have an elimination period. 

Benefit Period

Your benefit period is the time when your benefits are being cashed out to you. This period also depends on the policy you have through your employer and/or agreed upon with your insurance company. Common benefits periods are two years, five years, ten years, or even up to retirement if needed.
It seems crazy to think that you would be able to choose the right kind of policy for you before you even have an issue.  How are you supposed to know what the right choice is for a benefit period until you know what kind of disability you will be dealing with if any? Typically, opt for a five-year coverage plan, and it is enough. Keep in mind that you will pay more into those plans that last longer. You may also potentially choose to pay a little more monthly for a longer benefit period.  Ultimately, you want to have some peace of mind in case you ever do need assistance for a longer period of time – that’s the purpose of long-term disability!

What You May Not Know

Finally, almost all insurers require that you must file for Social Security benefits along with your long-term disability benefits if you have been approved. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The most you will receive with your long-term disability is around sixty percent of your normal income when you were employed. If you are also receiving social security, your rate might get lowered, but it will still help to balance your benefits. Many times your insurance company can also help you with your social security and hire a disability attorney to represent your case.
If you had to file for long-term disability because of an injury that occurred on the job, you may also be required to file for workers compensation. This will also offset the benefits you receive from your insurance company. You could be in danger of losing your long-term disability benefits if you do not comply with filing social security and workers compensation if needed.
We are here to help you with your long-term disability questions.  Contact us today for help!


The Timelines of Disability Approval and Denial Letters

The Timelines of Disability Approval and Denial Letters

Have you applied for long-term disability and still have not heard anything about approval or denial?

Are you worried that you missed something and concerned that your case is in limbo because of this?

Below we will provide you with some timelines that will be helpful to you.

Receiving Approval or Denial

How long does it take to get a disability approval letter or an adverse benefits determination (denial)? It is hard to say; it is heavily depended upon if your policy is covered by ERISA.  If so, your insurer has up to 45 days to decide on your claim.  They can delay this by requesting an extension of 30 days (they are required to provide you with a reason and tell you exactly what they need to make a decision).  Initially, you’re looking at as short as one month to as long as three months.
Here’s an article that covers this timeline in more detail.

After Approval

Each long-term disability insurance policy has an elimination period that must be followed before you can receive benefits.  In this, all policies differ a little,  but typically you will have to use your short-term disability first if you have it, which is commonly around 26 weeks. 
If you do not have short-term disability, then the elimination period can be anywhere from 16 weeks to one year.

After Denial

If you applied for long-term disability and received a denial letter, do not worry.  You can appeal this decision as long as you do so within 180 days of receiving your denial letter. 
Your denial letter will include the reason why the insurance company is not approving your claim.  Be sure to include specific reasons why you disagree with the denial and have medical evidence to back it up.  You can learn more about long-term disability appeals by clicking here.
Once you have filed your formal appeal, the insurance company has up to 45 days to review it and make a decision.  If they are unable to make a final decision, then they can request up to another 45 days as long as they determine that exceptional circumstances exist and an extension is needed.  They must send you a letter explaining to you the extension request and the reasons for it.
Some insurance companies will only let you appeal one time (others will allow you to appeal twice).  Regardless of the final appeal (being first or second), you can file a lawsuit to get the benefits you have paid for.  This is something you should strategize with a good long-term disability benefits attorney.  And it is something that we specialize in!

Ways to Increase Your Chance of Approval

There are a few ways to help increase your chances of approval whether that be during the application process or the appeal process.

  • Make sure your doctor is aware and supportive of your disability application
  • Collect evidence along with a doctor’s note
  • Make sure your records are up to date
  • Fill out an RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) form
  • Never give up!
  • Don’t “bear your soul” to someone at the insurance company; they are not your friend.  
  • Hire a disability lawyer!

If you need help, please feel free to contact our office, or review other great articles about long-term disability in our blog


Will I Need to Pay Taxes on My Long-Term Disability?

The Timelines of Disability Approval and Denial Letters

If you are in the process of seeking long-term disability insurance or are getting ready to collect long-term disability insurance after a challenging appeal, you may be wondering “Is long-term disability taxable?”.

When figuring out the taxability on your long-term disability, it all depends on the type of benefits you are receiving.

You will also take into consideration whether your premiums were paid with pre-tax or after-tax money and whether you or your employer paid the premiums.

 Let’s briefly look at each type of insurance and whether they can be taxed or not.

(note – make sure to go over all this with a tax professional – they can better advise you in this area)

Individual Long-term Disability Insurance

Individual long-term disability insurance differs from group insurance you may receive through your employer. Individual insurance does not have the same regulations, ERISA for instance, and there are a lot of different policy types and coverage.  Some policies may be paid for through pre-tax $ and while others might “after-tax” $.  Again, work with a tax planning professional on this to ensure you don’t make an accidental mistake. 

Employer-Provided Insurance

If your premiums are paid by your employer with before-tax dollars, your benefits then become taxable. If your premiums are paid with after-tax dollars, either by your or your employer, then your benefits are not taxable.  To have your premiums paid with after-tax dollars, you may have to request that from your employer before your policy begins.  If your premiums are paid partially by your employer with before-tax dollars and partially by you with after-tax dollars, then you will be taxed for the portion paid by your employer.

Group Association Insurance

Group association, long-term disability insurance, is called a group policy.  Employees are offered special terms, conditions, and rates due to the characteristics of that group.  Group policies are similar to individual policies and are taxed similarly.  If you pay the premiums, then you will receive the benefits tax-free.

Should You Use Pre-tax or After-Tax Dollars

Deciding how to pay your premiums is going to be a difficult decision.  If you choose to pay with pre-tax dollars, it will decrease the amount of income tax you will be paying from your paycheck.  However, if you need to collect long-term disability benefits, you will be taxed on them.
If you choose to pay with after-tax dollars, it will decrease your take-home pay, but if you have to collect long-term disability benefits, then you will not be taxed on them.
For more information Is Long-term Disability Taxable you can visit here.