Workers in Arizona who become disabled before they retire may have access to employer-sponsored long-term disability insurance. However, those who are self-employed should consider purchasing individual long-term disability (LTD) insurance.
At Disability Attorneys of Arizona, our practice is focused on helping disabled individuals obtain Social Security Disability benefits. While these vital benefits can replace a portion of your income if a medical condition prevents you from working, individual LTD insurance can help fill in the gaps.
What Is Individual Long-Term Disability Insurance?
Individual long-term disability insurance can be purchased directly from an insurance company – most of the major insurance carriers offer LTD policies. Individual LTD insurance offers more comprehensive coverage than other disability insurance options and replaces a portion of your income for extended periods of illness or injury when you are unable to work.
Individual long-term disability insurance covers disabilities that last 3 months or more and can replace up to 60 percent of your income. The policy will include a listing of illnesses and injuries that are “covered disabilities.” Common reasons to file a claim include:
- Back pain
- Diabetes (Types 1 and 2)
- Heart disease (e.g. heart attacks, coronary heart disease, congenital heart disease, and congestive heart failure)
- Mental health treatment (e.g. depression)
LTD policies allow you to choose whether you will receive benefits if your condition prevents you from doing your current job or a job in any field. Unlike workers’ compensation, individual LTD insurance pays benefits whether or not your injury or illness is work related.
How Does Long-Term Disability Insurance Work?
Like other types of insurance (e.g. life insurance, health insurance), you pay premiums for LTD coverage. If you become disabled due to an illness or injury, you file a claim with the insurance carrier. Once your claim is approved, you will receive payments; the amount that is paid out depends on the terms of your policy.
It is important to know that all disability insurance policies have an elimination period that specifies how long you need to be disabled before you start to receive benefits. LTD policies typically have elimination periods of 60 to 180 days. While you are disabled, you will receive a percentage of your gross income and payments can last from 2 to 10 years, or until retirement. Ultimately, shorter elimination periods, higher benefit payments, and longer benefit periods mean higher premiums.
Long-Term Disability Policy Riders
In addition to the basic terms of your LTD policy, you have the option of adding features known as riders. Common policy riders include:
- Guaranteed renewable rider that prevents your insurance company from canceling your LTD policy as long as you pay your premiums
- Non-cancelable rider that prevents the insurer from raising your premiums
- Waiver of premium rider that waives your premiums while you are disabled
Adding riders to your individual long-term disability insurance will increase your monthly premium.
How Do I Obtain LTD Benefits?
Filing a claim for LTD benefits can be complicated. Individual long-term insurance policies often include complicated language and provisions that favor the insurance company. In addition, insurers often attempt to delay and deny valid claims. In any event, your application for benefits must include medical evidence of your condition provided by your doctor, including:
- Records of doctors’ visits
- Lab work
- Radiological tests
- Surgical procedures
- Prescription medications
- Counseling and rehabilitative care
In short, the medical record must show that you are unable to perform:
- The work you did prior to becoming disabled
- Other work for which you may be reasonably qualified, or
- Any other work that pays a percentage of your earnings
Your doctor must attest to this determination and also provide a reasonable estimate of the duration of your disability.
Alternatives to LTD
Long-term disability insurance will cover some, but not all, of your lost income. There are other resources available, however, such as:
- Short-term disability (STD) insurance is designed to cover up to two-thirds of your wages for a specified amount of time – usually from 4 to 26 weeks
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are available to individuals who have paid into the Social Security system and acquired enough work credits
Why You Need A Disability Insurance Attorney
Although individual long-term disability insurance is designed to cover a portion of your wages if you cannot work due to illness or injury, obtaining benefits can be challenging. Our disability insurance attorneys have in-depth knowledge of LTD policies and applicable insurance laws.
Once you become our client, we can assist you with filing an initial claim and help you pursue an LTD appeal if your claim is denied. If necessary, we will obtain statements from medical and vocational experts to confirm that your disability prevents you from performing your current job or doing another type of work. We will also help you apply for Social Security Disability benefits to ensure that you have all the medical and financial resources you need and deserve.
Contact Disability Attorneys of Arizona Today
Whether you are seeking benefits under an individual long-term disability insurance policy or need assistance applying for SSDI, we can help. Contact our Phoenix office today to get started.