I get this question all the time, and people just need to know, “When do I need to file my long-term disability insurance application in order to satisfy any time limits in my policy?”
Well, the simple answer is that every policy is different, and you have to know, based on your policy, when your deadlines are. It’s one of the very first things that you should do when you learn that you are disabled. You need to request a copy of your long-term disability insurance policy, and make sure that you know when those deadlines are. There is a period of time when you cannot file your long-term disability application. But then there’s a short window of time within which you have to file your long-term disability claim.
One of the most important things that you will need to know is what is the date of your disability. And based on that, you will calculate what the insurance company calls your elimination period. And your elimination period is that period of time within which benefits will not be paid. It’s that period of time within which short-term disability policies would apply, but the long-term disability does not apply until you are out of work for a period of time. It’s usually 180 days.
Proof of Claim
After that 180 days after your date of disability, a lot of insurance policies require that you file what they call proof of claim within 90 days of the end of your elimination period. So now you are looking at a three-month period, a nine-month period total, from the date of your disability. Some insurance policies will say something to the effect of, “Your claim won’t be denied solely because you filed late, as long as you filed as soon as reasonably practical.” What does that mean? And your guess is as good as mine, but don’t get caught in that period of time beyond the nine-month period where you have to file your long-term disability claim. Instead, make sure that you use that six months during your elimination period to gather all the documentation that you need, to make sure that your doctors put the right things in your medical records, to make sure that you get a physician statement that is robust and gives enough information for the insurance company to find in your favor. Use that time to build your case so that when the time comes, submitting your claim or your application is easy.
If you need more information or if you need help filing your long-term disability claim, I’d be happy to sit down and talk to you and make sure that you cross your T’s and dot your I’s.
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