When you get hurt and you’re unable to work, you may be eligible to collect long-term disability benefits, provided that your employer has a plan under ERISA or another program. Getting this long-term benefit is not always easy, however. It can require a long and difficult process, and often, applicants find themselves denied the benefits they need.
It’s important, before you apply, to understand the laws and how they work so you know the right steps to take. It’s also important to understand when to seek help in getting the benefits you sorely need. Learn how if you’re applying for ERISA disability benefits, the steps you need to take, and when you might seek help from a qualified attorney.
What Is ERISA?
ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and it’s a federal law first enacted in 1974. It serves to regulate almost every element of employee welfare and benefits. Any time you apply for benefits which are denied, you can, under ERISA, pursue a federal lawsuit to challenge the denial.
Unfortunately, it’s tough to overturn such an ERISA denial. That’s why it’s vital to do everything right the first time around. If you end up challenging a denial, the burden of proof resides on you and the insurance company needs only a little evidence to back up its decision. Thus, the stronger your initial claim, the better off you are.
Making a Claim
There are a number of steps to take, to ensure that your claim is met. Taking things step by step is often the best way to ensure that you get the full benefits you deserve. First, read the policy thoroughly so you’re familiar with all of the requirements and coverage. Next, clearly note the date your disability began, and keep records that prove it. Be careful about when you choose your last date of work. This is a vital date (called the LDW) for your claim.
Understand your deadlines—there will be a number of them, and missing a single one can skew your claim. Get and keep records of all of your treatments and doctor’s visits. The more detail you have to back up your claim, the better off you’ll be. Finally, go over everything you do multiple times to be sure your facts are presented the same, and everything is covered.
Speak with an Attorney
It cannot be understated—any time you are applying for disability benefits, you are best off to speak with a qualified disability attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the very complex waters of long-term disability and ensure that you submit a strong initial application. They can help you avoid critical errors, missed deadlines, and other problems that can result in the denial of your ERISA disability benefits.
If your benefits are denied, having an attorney who has helped you from the beginning will also be useful when you build your case to challenge the denial. Your attorney will know all the details of the case and will be able to build an effective argument for your benefits. If you need help with ERISA disability benefits in California, contact the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour for a consultation today.