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What employees should know about filing a claim for disability benefits

Your source for the latest health, disability and insurance news and tips.

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As we've discussed all week, employees across the nation are currently in the middle of their annual enrollment periods, such that in the coming days they'll not only have to make important determinations concerning their health insurance and contributions to health savings accounts, but also life insurance and disability insurance.

Those employees who have made -- or are planning to make -- the wise decision to secure disability coverage after carefully considering their employer-sponsored options are to be commended for their foresight. Indeed, as we stated earlier, even though group disability insurance is typically less exhaustive than private disability plans, some coverage is better than none.

While you certainly hope the day will never come when you have to file a claim for benefits under this newly acquired coverage, statistics suggest that it may happen.

In case you have a hard time believing it, consider that the Social Security Administration has found that a 20-year-old worker has a 25 percent chance of suffering a disability, while a recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor found that private industry employers reported 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015 alone.

Employees who do someday find themselves in this unenviable position should not only take comfort from the fact that they are covered, but also from the fact that their group disability plan is covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, otherwise known as ERISA.

For those unfamiliar with this landmark federal law, ERISA essentially safeguards disability benefits and establishes standards for plan administrators. Specifically, the DOL, acting under the auspices of ERISA, has created various rules and regulations covering benefit claims processing, timelines for decisions and options if a disability claim is denied.

In our next few posts, we'll explore some of these rules and regulations promulgated the DOL.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Filing a claim for your health or disability benefits," November 2016

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