After your doctor has told you that you are disabled and you shouldn’t work, the first thing you have to do is notify your employer. Most long term disability insurance policies have a notice provision that requires you to notify your employer within 20 – 30 days of the date of your disability. This is a pretty quick turn around. If you have a short-term disability policy, most of those policies require that you submit your claim within 30 days of the date of your disability. By sending the notice of your claim to your employer, the insurance company should then turn right around and send you all of the claims forms they require you fill out to submit your claim.
Many of these insurance companies will use this date of disability as a marker going forward to determine when several deadlines start and stop. If your doctor says you are disabled on June 15, then you should send your employer written notice within 30 days of that you are now disabled and are physically unable to do your job. This date of disability also determines when you will become eligible for long term disability.
A typical long term disability policy will include an “elimination period” which is a waiting period during which you are not entitled to benefits. This time period is usually 90-180 days. During that time period, your insurer expects you to file a short-term disability claim that will cover those 3-6 months. Your proof of claim documents is typically required to be filed within 90 days of the end of your elimination period. So if your elimination period is 180 days, and your policy requires proof of claim to be submitted within 90 days of that, then your proof of claim has to be submitted 270 days from the date of your disability.
This is why the date of your disability is such an important date. It is also why you cannot wait around to fill out these forms and submit supporting documentation.
Once you submit your claim forms to the insurance company, it has 45 days to decide your claim. If necessary, the insurance company can extend this time period by two 30 day periods by informing you of the circumstances surrounding the extension request.