Obtaining long-term disability benefits often is an uphill battle with your insurance company. An experienced St. Louis long-term disability lawyer can help guide you through the claims process and, importantly, through the appeal process if your claim is denied. You want to make sure, though, that the lawyer you choose is the right lawyer for you, given the particulars of your claim and personal circumstances.
In this post, we’ll review what you can expect at your initial meeting with a St. Louis long-term disability lawyer and offer some suggestions to help you make the most of this time.
Expect a Detailed Interview
A long-term disability insurance claim involves a great deal of information. You must prove that your medical conditions prevent you from working. While this sounds simple, a disability claim requires a detailed analysis of medical and vocational factors. Accordingly, at the initial meeting, your lawyer will ask you a series of questions about:
- Your medical conditions and symptoms;
- Your treatment and medications;
- Side-effects from treatment and medications;
- The names of your doctors and other medical providers;
- Your education and work background;
- The physical and mental requirements of your job;
- Your daily activities (such as chores and hobbies);
- Work restrictions; and
- Whether you have applied for Social Security disability benefits.
While these questions may seem invasive, your lawyer needs this information to evaluate your claim.
It is important to be open and honest with your long-term disability insurance lawyer. The information you share during the appointment is confidential, and your lawyer needs to understand the strengths and weakness of your claim. If you have a hard time remembering details or communicating ideas, consider bringing a friend or family member with you. This person can help explain your disability to the lawyer.
Bring Your Claim Information and Summary Plan Description
Every ERISA insurance plan has a Summary Plan Description (SPD). The SPD explains the terms and conditions of your disability insurance policy. It typically includes the plan’s definition of disability, rules for appealing and strict filing deadlines.
If you have a copy of your SPD or other plan documents, bring them to your appointment. Your lawyer will also want to see all of the correspondence the insurance company has sent you, so bring any letters and forms that you have. All of these documents will help your lawyer understand your claim and advise you of your rights and responsibilities under your disability plan.
Bring Your Medical Records
Every disability insurance claim requires a thorough analysis of your medical records. To get disability benefits, you must show that your medical conditions prevent you from working. Your statements alone cannot prove a disability; you also must have medical evidence supporting your claim.
If you have copies of your medical records, bring them to the appointment. Additionally, bring copies of work restriction slips your doctors have issued.
If you do not have copies of your medical records, don’t panic. Your lawyer will have you sign a medical release that allows him access to your records.
Ask questions to ensure that you are comfortable with the lawyer on a professional and personal level. Here are some good questions to ask:
- How many ERISA claims have you handled?
- How often do you appeal ERISA claims to the federal courts?
- Have you handled ERISA cases against my insurance company?
- Are you familiar with my medical conditions and treatment protocols?
- How often do you communicate with your clients?
- How quickly do you return phone calls?
- Based on your first assessment, how strong is my case?
- What can I do to strengthen my disability claim?
- How do you charge for your services? Am I responsible for legal costs?
Trust and communication are important parts of an attorney-client relationship. Your lawyer should be able to answer these questions quickly and easily.
Additionally, ask yourself some questions.
- Do you feel comfortable with this lawyer?
- Does he seem knowledgeable and confident?
- Is this someone you want to work with?
Remember that you are contemplating entering an attorney-client relationship – one that may last for some time, depending on the complexity of your claim. If you are uncomfortable for any reason, do not sign a fee agreement, and seek a second opinion.
A skilled St. Louis long-term disability lawyer can help you navigate the (often frustrating) claims process and give you the best chance for a quick and successful resolution of your claim. If you would like to meet with us to discuss your situation, please call us or use the Free Claim Evaluation form on this page to send us an email.