What Decades Practicing ERISA and Disability Income LTD Insurance and Social Security Disability Law has Taught Me, and What Clients and Potential Clients Need to Know
1) DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE.
Withholding information from your disability attorney might cost you dearly. Quite simply, an attorney is your mouthpiece. If you fail to disclose information to your disability attorney or, worse, lie about your situation, you will, at the very least, prevent your attorney from giving you the best legal guidance, or worse, destroy trust between you both which will likely result in the breakdown of the attorney/client relationship. For example, if you have an ongoing employment case against your employer or former employer but fail to disclose that case to your disability lawyer, or otherwise hide crucial facts, there is a strong likelihood that there may be factual discrepancies that can undermine either or both claims. It is best to disclose the information as you become aware of it or right at the start so the disability attorney can provide an honest evaluation of the merits of the case, and whether their continued legal representation is practical or possible.
And please remember, the best disability attorneys want to know the truth. If the case cannot be won under the facts of the case, then it should not be taken. And remember, if an attorney is willing to lie FOR YOU to try to win a case, that same attorney will have no issue lying TO YOU.
Many of our cases are complex, and sometimes difficult to prove, but we do not shy away from a legitimate fight. But there is a difference between a challenging case, and one without merit. So please help your attorney explain to you which yours is.
2) REMOVE YOUR PUBLIC SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
We all know that what is posted on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media often do not reflect reality. I am always at a loss when I receive LinkedIn requests from individuals who are disabled and whom I know are not working; and are incapable of working, but who make it appear they are. That phenomenon is something I often discuss in disability seminars I present to lawyers. In a capitalist society we all want to feel we are capable of working, and we feel judged if we stop working as a result of a disability. As a result, people risk entitlement to disability benefits, which their medical records document they deserve, so that they are not viewed in an unfavorable light by their friends and family. If someone has retained my law firm to represent them in a disability case, I tell them they must remove their public presence on social media. The government, and insurance companies routinely investigate claimants’ social media. And, as I have seen too many times, such investigations often manage to view private postings as well. Depicting yourself in a false light on social media may give you a temporary psychological boost, but it can destroy a valid disability claim.
3) OBTAIN THE MEDICAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT FOR YOUR CLAIM
As we always explain to our clients, we are lawyers, not doctors. We can only argue the medical evidence we have. If you fail to undergo medical, or psychological treatment, there is no case. As a result, you must obtain treatment from a provider. If you cannot afford treatment, there are free clinics where you can undergo treatment. And if, for example, you are agoraphobic, but you have health insurance, there are some states where telephone sessions with your therapist are acknowledged as valid treatment. We will provide you with guidance on all these issues, but our recommendations are only as helpful as your follow through. If you fail to obtain treatment, you will undermine what might well be a valid disability claim.
4) ASK YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR THEIR INPUT ON CHANGES THEY HAVE OBSERVED SINCE YOU BECAME DISABLED
We often ask our clients for permission to speak to their close family and friends because they often notice changes in you before you notice them, or more likely before you are willing to admit those changes are present or have occurred. This is especially true when someone is suffering cognitive changes, or persistent pain or personality changes. So always ask a trusted family member or friend to accompany you to the disability lawyer’s office to offer insight into your disability.
5) CALL AN EXPERIENCED DISABILITY LAWYER WHEN YOU THINK A DISABILITY CLAIM MAY BE IN YOUR FUTURE
Often people with chronic medical conditions experience significant deterioration in their health before they begin the process of filing for disability. Whether you are considering filing a disability insurance claim through an insurance policy provided by your employer, or one you have purchased through an insurance broker, and/or if you are filing a Social Security Disability claim, you should consult with an experienced disability lawyer to get an understanding of what the process will involve and what medical proofs will likely be required in your case. If you have the long-term disability plan or policy, be prepared to produce it for the attorney to review. Unless the attorney knows what the policy or plan requirements are, they cannot give you an informed decision.
We are here to help you. Please call us for a free initial consultation at 1-201-444-4493.