If you become disabled and unable to work, check your employer-provided benefits package; it may include disability benefits. Generally, they’re referred to as ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) short term disability, (STD) or ERISA long term disability (LTD) plans. STD and LTD benefits are usually provided through either a policy, or a self-funded plan administered by an insurance company. Some of the major players in the field of STD and LTD insurance are: CIGNA, The Hartford, MetLife, Sun Life, Unum, Liberty Mutual, Prudential, The Standard and Aetna. In addition to representing hundreds of claimants in Social Security Disability cases, RamosLaw also counsels individuals who are either seeking ERISA STD/LTD benefits, or who have had their claims denied.
Recently, a prospective client asked RamosLaw as to whether it was wise for LTD claimants to allow a disability insurance company to handle their Social Security Disability (SSD) case, too. Here are our firm’s views on the subject:
Most ERISA LTD plans include provisions which allow insurance companies to offset the money they pay a beneficiary by the amount he or she receives in SSD benefits.
Furthermore, most plans require beneficiaries to apply for SSD in order to receive LTD benefits. While these provisions are legal, LTD beneficiaries are entirely free to choose whoever they want to handle their SSD claims. Insurance companies do not have the right to either select or assign an attorney/representative to a claimant. Unfortunately, it has become clear that in numerous instances insurers simply don’t respect the claimant’s right to enlist his or her own SSD attorney.
Instead they attempt to steer, or even strong-arm, beneficiaries into hiring companies like Allsup, Advantage 2000, Ocudanta and Disability Services, Inc. to handle their SSD claims. Of course, these corporations are agents of the insurer; and ones whose loyalties are not with the claimants. Their objective isn’t to help you, it’s to help the insurance company.
For this reason, RamosLaw urges all LTD claimants who are also applying for SSDI to obtain their own attorneys. SSD lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that they won’t charge you money unless they’re able to secure you your benefits. Moreover, the insurance company is required to credit you for the lawyer’s contingency fee. Consequently, you lose absolutely nothing by hiring your own Social Security Disability Lawyer.
There’s no question that it’s in your best interests to hire a law firm like ours; one with extensive experience in handling SSD, ERISA STD and LTD claims.
Once you retain such a law firm, it can begin the process of gathering the proper evidence and develop the arguments that will help you win both LTD and SSD benefits. A competent attorney who is experienced and skilled in disability law will also advise you on-and prepare you for-which strategies the insurance company will likely use against you.