How to Go About Filing a Claim for Disability Benefits
No one wants to be injured just because they were doing their job. But not all careers involve sitting safely in an office cubicle for eight hours a day. Many jobs carry some amount of danger, and the risk of injury is always lingering in the background, ready to strike if you or a co-worker aren’t playing close enough attention. Luckily, companies that deal in dangerous activities must carry some type of disability insurance to protect their staff. Also known as workers’ compensation, the goal is to replace your salary, and even provide a cash settlement for your pain and suffering if you are injured while performing your work, and either lose your job or cannot perform your job because of that injury. Hopefully you never have to experience this firsthand, but it is a reality for millions of Americans each year. If you find yourself in this sort of situation, here is how you go about filing a claim for disability benefits.
First off, you’ll have to go to your doctor and have a complete examination. Ideally you’ll be able to go to your general practitioner, so he or she already has your records and medical history on file. If you’re going to a new doctor, that person will need to look over your history to compare it to your present state. The doctor will need to fill out a report backing up your claim, with copies of any tests or X-rays that provide the hard data.
At this point, you must remember to be patient and to follow the rules step by step. While insurance policies are there to protect you, the insurance companies will look for any reason not to provide benefits. They are for-profit businesses, after all. So ask your supervisor for the paperwork required to submit a claim. You may receive paper documents, but you could also file the needed information online if your company works this way. Once you receive the paperwork, make sure you read it cover to cover. There will be a ton of fine print, and you may not understand it all on first pass. Don’t be afraid to make a list of questions and ask someone in your HR department for clarification.
When filling out the paperwork, make sure you answer every question fully and truthfully. If you glaze over any facts or make something up they will find out, and it could cost you your claim. Once you’ve filled out the paperwork, consult your disability insurance policy information. This is another document that could be confusing, so call your insurance agent if you need a bit of clarification. You must understand the benefits you are due, so you can plan for the new reality of your life on disability.
With all of this material, you’re ready to submit your claim. Keep notes of all of the timing for your records. You’ll want to have the details of when the accident happened, when you went to the doctor and when you filed your claim all on hand for discussion with your insurance agent. Once they have all the paperwork you might be called in for an interview. The goal isn’t to put you through the ringer, just to make sure that all of the information is complete.
After that you’ll move into probably the worst part of the process, the waiting. There’s no way around this, and you’ll regrettably have no control over the situation. Follow up with the insurance adjuster over the phone or through an online system, just so you stay in the loop. But at some point the word will come down that your request for disability benefits was either approved or denied. If it was denied you can file a disability appeal, which will often require filing additional information. You might want to bring a lawyer on the case at this point, just to make sure you get what’s coming to you. But as long as you are thorough and honest, you should have no problems.