When filing for disability of any type, you should consult with and consider retaining a disability lawyer.

There are many different types of disability programs as well as disability lawyers. Does it matter what type of disability lawyer you hire? Yes!

You want to choose a lawyer that exclusively works on cases that match the type of disability you are trying to receive.

In this article, we are going to break down the difference between ERISA Long-Term Disability lawyers and Social Security Disability lawyers.

ERISA Disability

Before we differentiate between ERISA & Social Security disability lawyers, we have to cover the differences in the laws they practice.

The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was enacted to protect employees’ employer-sponsored insurance benefit plans.  There are formal guidelines and deadlines that must be followed by the insurance company and the employer.  These timelines are codified and standard in the long-term disability insurance industry.  If your long-term disability policy is employer-sponsored, and if you do not work for the government, your policy is likely covered and governed by ERISA.

ERISA disability claims involve the claimant (you), your employer, and a private insurance company that provides your employer-sponsored benefits.  The insurance company is the one who determines if your claim is approved or denied.  They are also the one who will be paying you.  And if things go sour, they will be the ones you may have to sue to obtain your benefits.

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government-funded disability insurance program.  If your claim is denied at the initial claim level, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is the one that determines if your claim is approved or denied upon appeal.

Your eligibility is determined by three main requirements:

  1. Work credits: These are the credits you earn for the number of years you worked before you became disabled. How old you are when you become disabled determines the number of work credits you need to be eligible.
  2. Medical eligibility: You must be able to prove you meet the SSA’s definition of disabled.  You are only eligible if you have a severe, long-term, and/or total disability.
  3. Age requirement: You must be younger than the retirement age to receive disability.

Both ERISA and Social Security require that you submit medical evidence that supports your disability and proves that you are unable to perform certain work.

ERISA Disability Lawyers vs Social Security Disability Lawyers

Even though both types of disability lawyers are familiar with your state’s disability laws, each has its own set of laws, requirements, and deadlines he or she must follow.  It is important to hire a disability lawyer that works exclusively in the type of claim you will be filing.

ERISA disability lawyers must understand the strict guidelines and timelines within the ERISA laws.  Your ERISA disability lawyer needs to understand ERISA’s definition of disabled.  There is a specific appeals process with its own set of guidelines and deadlines that must be followed in these types of claims and appeals. For this reason, it is essential to have an ERISA disability lawyer if you get denied long-term disability benefits.

Social Security disability lawyers must understand the state and federal laws that govern Social Security disability.  It is also helpful if they are familiar with the local Administrative Law Judges.  If your SSDI claim gets denied, then the Social Security disability lawyers know the appeals process and what needs to be submitted to get you an approval.

Finding the right disability lawyers for your situation is important.  It can determine whether or not you win or lose your case.  If you have already been denied, then having a lawyer that specializes in your type of disability claim will help you to meet all deadline and requirements for the appeals process.