Applying for long term disability insurance benefits through Sun Life can seem like an uphill battle, especially when it comes time to ask your busy doctor to fill out a long, complicated claim form. What should claimants do if their doctor won’t support their disability by filling out an attending physician statement or contacting Sun Life? When should this conversation between you and your doctor even happen? Learn more about applying for Sun Life long term disability benefits and what claimants can expect from the process.
How Your Sun Life Claim Will Be Handled
Most Sun Life policies are group disability policies that are governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA policies are subject to federal law and ERISA claims that enter the lawsuit stage are decided by a federal judge under a lifetime appointment. The majority of ERISA claims wind up settling before a judge can issue a ruling, as this process can take up to two years.
The single most important part of a long term disability claim, particularly an ERISA claim, is the claim file itself. Because Sun Life doesn’t make money by approving claims, it has a vested interest in denying claims, and claims for disability insurance benefits that don’t include adequate documentation or support can present an easy decision. Disability insurance claimants need to hand the rationale for approval to Sun Life on a silver platter. It’s important to seek legal advice early in the long term disability claim process so that your disability insurance claim file can be as complete and thorough as possible.
Claimants Need Support from a Treating Physician
In an ERISA long term disability claim, a claimant’s request for disability benefits is only ever as good as it looks on paper. Most of this “paper” consists of the claimant’s medical records and attending physician statements from the claimant’s physicians. Without this support, claimants can find it difficult or even impossible to prove they’re entitled to disability benefits under the terms of their Sun Life policy.
If you think your primary doctor may refuse to answer a request for information or is likely to be wishy-washy in their responses, you may not want to include this doctor on the list of physicians you or your attorney provides to Sun Life. It’s better to have just one physician who issues a strong statement supporting your claim than several physicians who are equivocal in their statements or who Sun Life can’t ever get into touch with.
When to Raise the Long Term Disability Issue With Your Physician
One question disability claimants often have is when they should first ask their doctor about supporting their claim for long term disability benefits. Claimants can start having this conversation with their doctor a year before they stop working or even on their last day at work.
Because it’s common to want to power through the pain and continue working even after a disability makes it all but impossible, doctors may sometimes be taken by surprise when a claimant appears to “suddenly” stop working. Instead, you may want to broach this issue while you’re still working but after you’ve started to consider the when and how of leaving your job and seeking long term disability benefits.
Navigating a Sun Life long term disability claim can be overwhelming and discouraging at times. Don’t go through this process alone – let the team of long term disability insurance attorneys at Dell & Schaefer help. Get in touch with a member of our legal team today to schedule a FREE consultation.