When employees sign up for disability benefits through their employer, they likely look at it as emergency protection that they will probably never need. Few people ever plan to collect on disability benefits.
Unfortunately, life has a way of completely altering people’s expectations. You may have gotten into a car crash that left you with a brain injury, meaning you can’t continue to perform your job. Maybe you have acquired or developed a severe and debilitating medical condition like Lou Gehrig’s disease.
When you are so sick or so severely injured that you can’t work or care for yourself, those disability benefits will make a difference between financial stability and ongoing financial hardship. How long will you typically have to wait if your employer-sponsor disability benefits fall under the rules of ERISA?
ERISA mandates a timely response to all claims
One of the many ways that businesses can try to shirk their responsibilities to employees is to deny them benefits that the employee has paid for or contributed to during their employment. Inappropriate refusals, as well as prolonged claims, are ways for companies to avoid paying out on valid insurance. ERISA exists in part to protect employees from this exact situation.
Employers that provide workers with long-term disability benefits subject to ERISA rules must return a decision about an employee claim in a timely manner. In most cases, applicants should receive a response within 45 days.
However, there are sometimes situations in which more investigation and review is necessary to make an appropriate determination. In this situation, you should receive a letter advising you of the need for additional review. The company will then have another 30 days to make a decision. If they ask you to provide documentation, you will have 45 days to do so, and they will then have 30 days to review those documents after you provide them.
ERISA claims often require professional help
Given that disability benefits can represent substantial sums of money, they often involve a lot of paperwork. Little mistakes in when you file the documents or how you fill them out can result in delays or even denied claims.
Having someone help you with your paperwork and advocate to get you the benefits that you need can make life easier while adjusting to a disability.