The 10 Biggest Legal Mistakes Physicians Make
When Filing a Disability Claim (Mistake #6)

If you are a physician, dentist, or other professional facing a disabling condition, you may be wondering when to tell your doctor that you’re thinking you may need to file a disability claim, and how to communicate it best. How and when you approach your doctor can have a significant impact on your claim, particularly if you have a slowly progressive condition, like an essential tremor or degenerative disc disease.

Ed Comitz’s article “The 10 Biggest Legal Mistakes Physicians Make When Filing a Claim for Disability,” published by SEAK, Inc. (2005), details ten of the most significant mistakes to avoid. The excerpt below discusses some important considerations to keep in mind when interacting with your doctors:

MISTAKE NO. 6:  Engaging in Inadequate Communication with Treating Physician

Physicians should not discuss their claim or that they are considering filing for disability insurance benefit with their treatment provider until after they have had several visits.  Physicians are often reluctant to support claims for benefits if they question the motivations behind the claims.  A physician who has treated, without success, the physician making the claim will likely be more willing to cooperate.  It is also important that the physician making the claim communicate his or her symptoms and limitations to the treating physician in an organized and detailed manner so that all relevant information is recorded in the medical records, which the insurer will ultimately request.  When finally speaking to the treating physician about the claim, the physician should ensure that the treating physician understands the definition of “disability” under the insurance policy, so that he or she can accurately opine as to the inability of the physicians making the claim to work.

Action Step:  Physicians should fully discuss their condition with their treating physician to ensure supportive medical records and, after several appointments, work with him or her on submitting the claim for “disability” as defined in the policy.

Your doctor plays significant role in documenting the health information your insurer will eventually obtain and review when investigating your claim. With that in mind, it is important to understand the relevant definitions in your disability policy, consider the nature of your symptoms and limitations, and carefully consider when to approach your treating physicians about your disability claim.

To learn more about the tactics insurers use to deny claims and other mistakes to avoid, click here.

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