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WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO APPLY FOR LONG TERM DISABILITY (OR SHORT TERM DISABILITY)?

Preparing to request long-term disability can be difficult for you and your family .  When you suffer from a long standing or progressive disease, and you no longer feel that you can continue to work for much longet, you may have time to prepare.  When is the right time to request long-term disability benefits? How should I do it? What should I do to prepare?

These are complicated questions without easy answers.  But, here are a few things to consider if you are considering applying for short term disability or long term disability, whether under a private policy or an ERISA policy.

ARRANGE YOUR FINANCES AND PLAN AHEAD

Long term disability is usually only a partial income replacement. Your benefits may also be taxable. So, your income is going to be a lot less substantial than what you are accustomed to currently. Make budget decisions in advance and prepare for that loss of income.

OBTAIN A COPY OF YOUR POLICY (and understand it!)

If you do not have a copy, get one!  You may need to request one from someone in your Human Resources department.  Read the policy carefully.  Policies are full of little details and exceptions that you need to be aware of, and will provide important definitions, exclusions and set out what the maximum benefit claim is. Plans will typically pay until you reach 65, or when Social Security begins to pay to help with retirement.

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

If you feel as though your condition is progressing, ask your doctor if he or she believes you are still able to work. If your doctor believes you are no longer capable of working safely, he or she will likely be willing to provide documentation of this.

DOCUMENTS, DOCUMENTS AND DOCUMENTS

Do not wait to start getting copies of medical records, or a note from your doctor to submit with your claim.  Talk to friends and others who may be able to provide a letter or statement to help describe why it is you can no longer work.

KNOW WHEN TO MAKE THE CLAIM

There is no “good”  or “right” time.  But, don’t wait too long as you may lose your coverage if you are fired before submitting  a claim.  Don’t risk your financial future because you are too proud to make a claim when you needed to!

and last ……  GET HELP FROM AN EXPERIENCED ERISA ATTORNEY!

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