The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) also includes provisions for securing your disability benefits and sets guidelines as to how plan administrators must process your disability claims. While it undoubtedly is important for you to get your benefits immediately, there could be unanticipated delays.

Here’s how the process should go:

  • Once you’ve filed your claim, you are required – under most circumstances – to receive a decision within 45 days. This is for your protection so that benefits aren’t unnecessarily delayed.
  • If your claim is denied, you’ll receive a notice in writing that will include the reason for the denial and how to appeal it. The denial could be because a medical professional and an expert in your job field disagreed with the filing; the Social Security Administration ruled you aren’t disabled; or because of a provision in your plan that upholds the denial.
  • If denied, you’ll have up to 180 days to request the case be reviewed. As you put together your appeal, refer back to the denial notice to make sure you include the information and evidence that is needed to support your claim.
  • The plan administrator then will have 45 days to get back to you with a decision or to tell you in needs an extension. That could last up to 45 days. This timeline applies to most ERISA cases, though specifics of your plan could alter that.

If your claim is denied again upon appeal, it would be wise to consult with an attorney to learn how you can challenge the decision. The attorney can explain your options, and one of those could include filing a lawsuit.