You were smart: You invested in your employer’s long-term disability insurance option when you first started working, even though you were young and healthy at the time. You’re still young — but not quite so healthy. You think it may be time to file for disability benefits.

Most employer-provided disability plans fall under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and claims can be complicated. That’s why it pays to consider a few things before you take this step. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How does your plan define what it means to be disabled? Some plans generously provide benefits when a policyholder is unable to continue working in their profession. Some are much more restrictive and require an applicant to unable to work at all before they’ll pay out.
  2. Do you have enough medical evidence to support your claim? You may have been seeing your doctor for a chronic condition for years, but your stiff upper lip and stoic approach to your pain could work against you when you file for disability. There needs to be plenty of evidence in your medical records that your condition is deteriorating — and it won’t be there unless you speak up.
  3. Are you complying with your doctor’s treatment plan? If your condition could improve with lifestyle changes or different treatment but you’re reluctant to commit to either, you’re going to have an uphill battle for benefits. Plans generally only pay out when an applicant has tried everything and still failed to improve.

You don’t need an attorney’s assistance to file an ERISA claim — but having one can definitely help. Insurance companies are great about taking premiums for these plans, but not so great about paying them without a fight.