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Long-Term Disability Benefits Not a Given, Study Shows

When it comes to long-term disability coverage, fewer people have it and those who do end up fighting extra hard to receive it.
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That’s according to a new study published in the ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law. Our Social Security Disability Insurance lawyers in Boston know that those who have long-term coverage assume that having private benefits means they won’t need to seek federal benefits, if they should become disabled.

The reality is that you could be entitled to both. But neither is likely to come easy, even for those whose conditions appear on the surface to be fairly straightforward.

The recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, analyzed employee benefit lawsuits between 2006 and 2010. What they found was that claims for long-term disability benefits accounted for 60 percent of all cases among the top five categories of employee benefits, which included accidental death, health care and pension cases.

The high number of long-term disability benefit claims was noteworthy to researchers because fewer and fewer people have plans that even offer long-term disability as an option. Those who do have it pay exorbitantly high premiums – and it seems they still are having to fight for it.

The Department of Labor released figures in 2009 revealing that less than 40 percent of private-industry workers had short-term disability plans and only about 30 percent had long-term disability plans. Compare that to more than half who had medical benefit and pension plans and nearly 60 percent who had life insurance plans.

The fact that 60 percent of employee benefit lawsuits stem from long-term disability claims means that insurance companies are loathe to pay these out unless their hand is forced.

That’s not to say it isn’t wise to purchase a long-term plan if it is available through your work. The reality is that with people working longer and employee safety protections dwindling, the chances of suffering a debilitating condition at some point in your career have increased over the last few decades.

Although the study did not specifically address why these claims were denied more frequently than others. However, researchers did theorize that part of the problem was the prominent role that insurance companies play in deciding claims of disability. That is, the insurance company administers the plan. Then it’s the insurance company that decides whether the claim is legitimate and then ultimately will have to pay if the claims is granted. This is very obviously a clear conflict of interest, and yet, that’s the norm.

The same is essentially true of SSDI benefits as well. It’s the Social Security Administration that decides the claim and it’s the administration that ultimately pays out the claim if it’s granted.

This is why it’s so beneficial to have an experienced attorney on your side in both instances. It’s true that it may cost more in the short-term. But other research has definitively shown that having legal representation in these proceedings can significantly boost the likelihood that your claim will be approved.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Long-term disability claims dominate benefits litigation, study says, Sept. 17, 2013, By Phil Ciciora, Phys.org
More Blog Entries:
Limiting Cancer Diagnoses Could Impact SSDI Eligibility, July 31, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog