If your insurance company has denied your long-term disability claim, this can have a devastating impact on your entire life. Not only are you dealing with a chronic injury or illness, but now you’re left wondering how you’re going to support yourself with no disability insurance benefits.

The good news is you have the right to appeal your denied claim and help is available. When you’re faced with the daunting challenge of a denied disability claim, here’s what to do next.

What to do when your disability claim is denied

1. Determine your appeal due date – but do not file your appeal (yet)

Almost all disability claim denials allow an opportunity to file an appeal. In fact, if your insurance policy is governed by ERISA, then an appeal is mandatory. This means you cannot file a claim in court unless you first go through the appeal process.

Under an ERISA policy, you will only have 180 days to appeal after receiving your denial letter, so you must act fast. If you hire a disability lawyer to help you, they will need time to prepare as well.

Read more: How to navigate the ERISA appeal process

2. Look into reasons for denial

Following your denied claim, you should review your initial claim and look for every possible reason why it got denied in the first place. Be sure to read and understand the denial letter and request your claim file from your insurance company.

It could be as simple as a lack of medical evidence supporting your claim. That may or may not be an easy fix depending on your circumstances.

Of course, there are many possibilities for why your claim was denied such as:

  • Insufficient evidence to support your claim
  • Missed deadline
  • Pre-existing condition exclusion clause in your policy
  • Conflicting medical documentation
  • Doesn’t meet the definition of disability

Look into every possibility for a denied disability claim, and then go back over your application objectively and see if part of your application may fit one of those reasons.

3. Gather Evidence

One thing you might have to do is get more evidence that your disability claim is legitimate and necessary. The more evidence you can gather, the better.

It’s important to note that in the case of an ERISA appeal, this is almost certain to be your last chance to submit any new evidence to support your claim. If your case goes to court, the only evidence that is typically allowed must already be in your claim file.

The best way to support your claim is to have substantial medical records. These can be statements from doctor appointments, medical bills, private records, examinations, and even written doctor’s diagnoses.

You need to show without a doubt that you have a medical condition that qualifies you as disabled and absolutely need the benefits to have a sustained living income.

The more evidence you have, the stronger your case is. So, find those documents from every doctor you visited. If your medical problems have gone on for multiple years, get papers that go back as far as you can possibly find.

4. File your appeal

You should file an appeal only after you have gathered all relevant evidence.

You should file an appeal only after you have gathered all relevant evidence.

You might be surprised at how many people do not do this. Some request an appeal out of the gate without presenting new evidence, while others feel overwhelmed by the appeal process and simply give up without trying.

Giving up, however, is not a good option, especially when you can hire a specialist to help you with your claim.

5. Find a long-term disability lawyer

Legal representation greatly increases your odds of having a successful appeal. Especially if you hire a lawyer that specializes in long-term disability insurance and ERISA law.

An experienced disability lawyer will know what to prepare for during the appeal process and can take care of all the details for you so you can focus on taking care of yourself.

Most importantly, you want a lawyer that you feel like you can trust. That may not be easy to come by for some people. Listen to your gut and try to find a lawyer that is not afraid to be direct with you while being empathetic to your disability situation.

Having the right long-term disability lawyer and law firm by your side can make or break your ability to win a disability appeal.

Read more: What qualities to look for in a long-term disability lawyer

Now is not the time to give up

Has your insurance company denied your long-term disability claim? We fight insurance companies every day and know what it takes to overturn a denied claim.

Contact us for a free consultation on your appeal today.