Long-Term Disability Attorney
Long-term disability (LTD) benefits are an important financial safety net for many employees and their families in Florida. Unfortunately, insurance companies and the Florida Retirement System (FRS) deny too many of these claims. At Liebenhaut Law, we understand how overwhelming an LTD denial or termination can feel when you’re unable to work and dealing with a chronic medical condition. Learn more about LTD claims and your legal rights below.
What Is Long-Term Disability Insurance?
Long-term disability insurance is different from Social Security. While Social Security Disability and SSI are federal programs, most LTD claims involve a private insurance company. Many employers offer LTD coverage to their employees, while some employees purchase their own private LTD policies.
While long-term disability policies vary dramatically, there are some common elements to most LTD policies. To receive benefits, you typically must prove you:
- Have serious medical conditions
- Cannot perform your job or any other type of work, depending on the language of your policy
- Meet the eligibility criteria of your plan (many plans include waiting periods and complicated exclusions)
If the insurance company accepts your claim, you will start receiving benefit payments. If it’s denied, you should immediately contact a Florida long-term disability lawyer.
How Do I Appeal an LTD Denial?
If your LTD claim was denied, don’t give up. Most long-term disability insurance providers are for-profit companies that focus on their financial bottom line (rather than people’s struggles). Insurance adjusters, even the seemingly nice ones, will look for any reason to deny a claim. Thankfully, you can appeal your long-term disability insurance denial.
The appeal process will vary, depending on whether your LTD plan is employer or self-funded. If the LTD plan is one of your employee benefits, you must follow a strict appeal process set out in the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). First, you must file an internal appeal with the long-term disability insurance company. If it denies this appeal, you can file a lawsuit in federal court. Remember to read your denial carefully and be aware of any pending deadlines you must meet in order to file your appeal or lawsuit.
If you have a private LTD policy, ERISA doesn’t apply to your claim. Instead, Florida’s contract and insurance laws apply. You can file a lawsuit in a Florida state court without bothering with an internal appeal.
Long-term disability appeals, especially ones involving ERISA, are highly complicated. You must meet strict filing deadlines, analyze insurance company documents, and interpret medical and vocational evidence. One small mistake, such as a late filing, can doom your claim. Rather than take this risk, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced LTD attorney at Liebenhaut Law.
What Is the Florida Retirement System?
The Florida Retirement System (FRS) issues disability payments to disabled state, county, and municipal government employees. There are two types of FRS long term disability benefits:
- Regular disability retirement: benefits paid to disabled government workers who have a serious illness, medical condition, or injury. You must have eight years of service to qualify for regular disability retirement benefits.
- Line of duty disability: benefits paid to government employees who are injured at work. You are eligible for line of duty disability on your first day of work.
While most people associate line of duty disability with first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, it’s actually available to all government employees.
The process of filing an FRS claim is different than a LTD insurance policy. First, you’ll have to complete a series of forms, which might include a Notice of Injury, an Application for Disability Retirement, and a series of statements from your employer and doctors. Once the state receives your completed forms, FRS will investigate your claim. Don’t be surprised if they want to interview you, demand more information, or send you additional forms. Once its investigation is complete, FRS will send you a notice that either accepts or denies your claim.
If your claim is denied, you have the right to either appeal the decision or reapply. Because FRS appeals are very complicated, it’s in your best interest to consult with a long term disability lawyer before responding to FRS’ denial.
Do I Really Need a Long Term Disability Lawyer?
Long-term disability claims aren’t simple matters. Most successful claims require extensive medical evidence and a careful analysis of your plan documents and the applicable disability laws. Most disabled employees can’t do this on their own. At Liebenhaut Law, we offer our clients personalized claims strategies, compassionate advice, and aggressive legal representation. Contact us to schedule a no-risk consultation today.