This should go without saying, but unfortunately, it bears repeating — KNOW YOUR POLICY.
Your long-term disability policy controls how your claim is handled and your disability evaluated. Get a copy of your long-term disability benefits policy and a copy of the summary plan description as soon as possible. Do this before filing your claim.
If your long-term disability benefits are provided through your employer, you can usually request a copy of the summary plan description and the policy through your human resources office. Do this in writing. When you make a request for these documents in writing to your benefits plan administrator, they have 30-days to provide you with the documents or face penalties under ERISA.
If you have a private disability benefits plan (i.e. you purchased on your own through an agent), ask your agent for help in getting the policy. Usually the policy is given to you a short while after you first begin coverage. If you have lost the policy, the agent or insurer can provide you with a copy (usually for a small fee).
Your policy will contain unique terms and conditions that you must meet in order to get the benefits provided. The policy controls everything. Do not rely on assurances your employer gives you. The only thing promised to you under the long-term disability benefits is covered in the policy.
How much of your earnings will you receive if you get benefits? The policy tells you. How does the provider determine if you are disabled? Look at the policy. How long do you have to be disabled before you actually get benefits? It’s in the policy. What is the maximum length of time you will receive benefits? You guessed it—check the policy!
Your policy will likely be different from your neighbor’s or your friend who is receiving benefits. So, we’ll say this one more time — BEFORE you even think about filing for long-term disability benefits — KNOW YOUR POLICY!