Long term disability carriers don’t make it easy for those who have disability policies get the benefits that they deserve. There are many important provisions in your disability policy including the definition of disability, duties and regular occupation. You should read your policy closely before you apply for disability benefits so you understand these crucial terms.
The definition of disability
The definition of disability will determine the scope of the coverage provided by your disability carrier. Normally, the policy provides for disability payments if you’re unable to engage in your “own occupation” which is usually the first 24 months of disability. After 24 months, the definition of disability will change to “any occupation.” You should note that your disability policy does not ensure your job but rather, ensures your occupation.
Variations in the definition of disability
Many disability policies will define disability on the actions or skills required of your regular occupation. The variations include:
• The ability to perform each of the material duties of the regular occupation;
• The ability to perform the important duties of the occupation; or
• The ability to perform the substantial material duties of the occupation.
That’s why it’s so very important for you to obtain a description of your occupational duties from your employer and compare that to the duties that you know you actually perform. Many times long term disability carriers will use the wrong definition of occupation and/or the duties of the occupation in wrongfully denying claims.
THE DEFINITION OF REGULAR OCCUPATION
Unfortunately, many long term disability policy holders believe that they have insured their occupation as performed by their employer. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. Many long term disability policies will define material and substantial duties based on the regular occupation as performed in the national economy and as defined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Rarely, does a policy provide that the definition of a regular occupation is that occupation performed by the policy holder for a specific employer at a specific location.
What you need to do before you file a claim for benefits
It’s crucial that you understand the definition of the regular occupation and disability before you apply for disability benefits. Crucial mistakes can be made in the application and in your medical records if your physician doesn’t understand what your occupation involves and document how you are able to perform duties of your regular occupation. It requires teamwork to submit a winning disability application.
You can learn more about your rights to long term disability benefits and how to complete a winning disability application by contacting long term disability attorney, Nancy Cavey, who can help you regardless of where you live in the United States.