If you’ve been following the guidance offered in this blog, you have avoided the mistakes many physicians make in selecting the right type of disability policy; and you can be assured of having the maximum coverage provided by a specialized disability carrier. Job well done. But, your job isn’t really done. You now need to fully understand how and when your policy will actually pay you benefits should you need to file a claim. The most costly mistake you can make is to file your claim incorrectly. It could mean the difference between receiving the benefits you expect and not receiving any benefits (depending on the type of mistake). Study this now because some of the biggest mistakes physicians make filing disability claims are made well before the claim has been filed.
Mistake #1-Reporting the wrong date of disability
The date of your disability, as you report it on your disability, income claim is important because that the date that determines everything else, such as when your proof of claim is required and when you benefits start. More critically, your date of disability must be the right date in terms of how the insurer will apply the definition of disability. For instance, if you have had to reduce your work load due to a disability but you are still receiving full pay through your practice or your employer, the insurer might consider you not to be disabled. Be sure to check with a disability attorney or specialist before reporting the date of your disability.
Mistake #2: Learning what’s in your physician’s record at the same time as the insurer.
After you file your claim, the insurer will require all of your medical records from which the insurer wants to obtain objective proof of your disability. It is absolutely essential for you to obtain them prior to filing the claim so that you can check for accuracy and completeness. You should review them with a disability lawyer before providing them to the insurer.
Mistake #3: Becoming “disabled” at the wrong time.
In its determination of disability, the insurer looks at the “last day worked” (LDW) as part of its investigation. All of the factors it considers, including your medical condition, your job duties, and your earnings, are taken as a snapshot on your LDW. So, if you stop working at the wrong time, you could very well jeopardize your benefits. For instance, if you developed a chronic back ache but still continued to work up until the day you finally had to stop, you will bring into question how you were able to work right up to that point. The insurer may question your decision to work past the time you developed the disability. It’s important to have it recorded in your medical records when your doctor deemed you to be unable to work before you file a claim along with as much evidence as he can provide.
We have stated throughout this post and we’ll state it again here, and then we’ll state it again in Part II – Do not try to understand your disability policy or file a claim without the assistance of a disability specialist or a disability lawyer. There is just too much at stake to allow a seemingly small mistake to erase a lifetime of income. Yes, there is a cost to hiring a disability attorney, but it can priceless if it means ensuring you receive the benefits you expect. When you buy your disability insurance policy through a competent disability specialist, they will take the time, now and in the future, to ensure you understand the critical elements of your policy.