Long-term Disability (LTD) benefits lawyers.
The New Jersey disability benefits lawyers Bross & Frankel, have represented many New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents in individual disability insurance claims and ERISA long-term disability claims offered through their employers. As a law firm focused on obtaining disability benefits for clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, we have developed the skill and knowledge necessary to help individuals in their claims and appeals of denied and terminated benefits from The Hartford, CIGNA, Liberty Mutual, Prudential, MetLife, and dozens of other private and ERISA disability insurance companies.
ERISA Long-term disability benefits.
LTD plans offered through your work are usually governed by a federal law known as ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act). While these plans are based on policies that can differ significantly from employer to employer, there are a few general features they often share. These plans, which are usually negotiated between an employer and an insurance company, will pay benefits (usually, 60% of gross earnings) to employees who are unable to work for a significant period of time. Typically, these benefits are available only after you have been out of work for six months, and many employers offer short-term disability (STD) benefits for employees who are out for fewer than six months.
Many ERISA plans also have two different definitions of disability you may have to meet in order to continue receiving LTD benefits. Specifically, plans will often pay benefits for a period of 24 months if you are unable to perform your usual occupation as it is generally performed, but will only continue to pay benefits beyond that if you can show that you would be unable to perform any job for which you are reasonably qualified.
While these benefits may sounds great, actually getting them can be extremely challenging.
Appealing denied LTD benefits.
ERISA benefits have strict deadlines that, when missed, can seriously limit or forever prevent a disabled worker from getting disability benefits. Many ERISA policies will only allow a single appeal with a limit of 180 days from the date of the initial denial to submit that appeal, and any additional evidence you may have to support your claim. If the LTD insurer again denies the claim, your only remaining recourse would be to file a federal lawsuit to try to obtain your benefits.
What ERISA insurers often won’t tell you is that, in most cases, if you wait until your only remaining option is to file a lawsuit, it may be too late for an attorney to help you. In most cases, a judge will limit his or her review to whether or not the insurance company abused its discretion in denying or terminating benefits. If that is the case, the judge will only look at the evidence that was in the insurer’s file at the time the claim was denied. This means that, if there was a vital piece of evidence you were unable to get in time, you won’t be able to submit it for the judge to review. Likewise, in most cases, you will not be permitted to testify, or ask your doctor to testify on your behalf.
This is why it is critical to consult with an experienced New Jersey long-term disability lawyer as soon as you find out your claim has been denied. While even 180 days is a short amount of time to address an insurer’s reasons for denying a claim, Bross & Frankel’s ERISA attorneys have the experience and knowledge to give your appeal the best chance of success.
If you have been denied long term-disability or your benefits have been terminated, or if you have questions about applying for benefits, contact our disability benefits attorneys today.