Unfortunately, we see it far too often: doctors who try to self-diagnose their own disability and manage their own claim for long-term disability insurance, often to their detriment. If you are a physician suffering from a long-term disability that has changed the way you practice medicine, keep these things in mind:
REDUCED HOURS OR PROCEDURES EQUALS DISABILITY
Many physicians believe simply because their hours have been reduced, or they have shifted their practice to less complicated procedures due to an illness or injury that limits their physical abilities, but they are still practicing, that they are not disabled. Not true. Reduced hours in the practice or reduced numbers or types of medical procedures performed as a result of illness or injury can equate to a long-term disability eligible for LTD benefits. If you have narrowed or changed your practice in any way due to an illness or injury that limits your ability to do the things you previously could at work, you may be entitled to LTD benefits under your policy. Contact a disability attorney who can review your situation and advise you on your entitlement to LTD benefits.
IF YOU WAIT TO FILE AN LTD CLAIM, YOUR NEW OCCUPATION MAY NOW BE YOUR “OWN OCCUPATION”
This is one of the common mistakes we often see doctors, who are suffering with a long-term injury or illness, make. They wait to file for LTD benefits until after they have changed their medical profession to a job their medical condition allows them to do. In doing so, your new occupation may now be considered your “own occupation.” Meaning, you will only be entitled to a portion of your current (perhaps reduced) income, even though you were earning more when your disability began. This is because you waited too long to protect your rights by failing to file a claim for LTD benefits as soon as your long-term illness or injury impacted your ability to practice medicine.
TREATMENT BY A FELLOW COLLEAGUE OR PARTNER CAN HINDER YOUR CLAIM FOR LTD BENEFITS
As a doctor, you often spend your days surrounded by other doctors either your fellow partners in the practice or other doctors in town who are colleagues, acquaintances or friends. It is also not uncommon for doctors to get off-the-cuff opinions and treatment recommendations from these fellow physicians without setting up a formal appointment or creating the necessary medical records, even though a condition is presented and treatment prescribed. Failing to go through the formal channels when seeking treatment can result in a lack of medical records that will give your LTD insurance company potential grounds to deny your claim for LTD benefits. It is better to go through the proper channels for treatment so the necessary medical records are generated to accurately reflect your illness, diagnosis, treatment options and physical or mental limitations.
If you are a physician or other medical professional and you believe you may be suffering from a disability, do not hesitate to seek help filing an insurance claim for your LTD benefits. The process is complicated with many more pitfalls than the three we have highlighted above. Our experienced insurance attorneys at Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock have seen dozens of physicians make unfortunate, costly mistakes with their LTD claim, and we know all too well how easily mistakes can be made. Avoid them from the outset by bringing an experienced LTD claim insurance attorney on board to help you with the process. At the very least, let us answer any questions you may have for no cost, fee, or obligation. Contact us.