The year 2020 will be remembered as a time when working from home became the norm for many in the United States. Some employers have notified the workforce they will not return to their offices until the summer of 2021. Well, unsurprisingly, disability claims examiners are working from home, too.
Many long-term disability claimants may suddenly find themselves receiving increased communications from their long-term disability insurance plans. There is no clear evidence of a correlation between an uptake in claim reviews and this new work from home status. There are certainly claims personnel who are now working from home and moving through their claimant dockets with greater efficiency, and thus, conducting more periodic reviews.
This coincides with a current working world that would give the appearance that many more jobs can now be successfully and productively performed at home. We expect that the next battle in LTD claims will be finding ‘sedentary’ work jobs that can be performed with restrictions from one’s home.
This is another part of this new reality in which we live, and claimants must learn to deal with it. Given this new reality, a few suggestions of what you can do to keep an LTD claim in approved status:
- Keep regular treatment appointments using telemedicine. More claimants and physicians are meeting in a telemedicine setting. A patient sets up an appointment to have a videoconference consultation. If diagnostic tests are required, they are scheduled in advance. Then, the doctor and patient go over the results. Anecdotally, both doctors and patients have enjoyed this process. It is more conversational and, perhaps, lead to better treatment insights for doctors and their patients.
- Keep regular logs or journal entries of especially challenging days. Keep a journal. Document everything. Believe it or not, this will help during the claims review process. It will also help to have those records available when it comes time to update your health providers concerning the physical or mental limitations that you have experienced in between appointments.
- Try to visit (or see) your treating physicians at least twice during the year. Many insurance policies require that a disability claimant be ‘under the regular care of a physician.’ With that requirement built into the contract, a claimant knows in advance that there should be evidence of regular treatment. Even though other contracts may not make this an express requirement, it might be worthwhile to treat it as an implied contractual requirement.
- Establish a working relationship with the attending physician’s office administrative staff. Keeping a disability claim approved means keeping LTD forms up to date and accurately filled out. No one likes to complete forms – especially those who have already battled with an insurer in an appeal or lawsuit – but they are contractual requirements. The most effective way to facilitate the processing of forms is by getting to know the staff member who handles such matters and working closely with that individual to get the forms to the treater and back.
- Do not seek to save on the administrative charges of health providers. Please remember that physicians are professionals and completing forms is not among their usual job duties. Offer to pay. A charge of $100 to $300 to pay for the physician’s time to complete the paperwork is always money well spent.