ERISA Regulations for Claims & Appeals

Disability Attorneys Serving Clients Nationwide

ERISA regulations apply to claims for long-term disability benefits with disability insurance companies. The regulations are known as Claims Procedures, and they apply to any disability benefits claims that are governed by ERISA. Understanding these new regulations, with the help of a disability lawyer, is key to the success of your claim.

In December 2016, the ERISA regulations were updated by the Department of Labor. The new regulations will take effect on or after January 1, 2018. Any plan that provides for disability insurance benefits and falls under ERISA will be affected by these new regulations. These new ERISA regulations will be very beneficial to people applying for disability benefits from disability insurance companies, adding protections to the claims and appeals process.

What the New Regulations Look Like

To begin, the new ERISA regulations will require the disability insurance company to decide all claims and appeals independently and unbiased. There can be no motives (usually financial) for denying a claim. Medical experts and vocational experts hired by the disability insurance company must be nonbiased. Meaning, a medical expert or vocational expert cannot be used because they usually find in favor of the disability insurance company.

Next, the ERISA regulations will now require more information to be provided in the disability benefits denial letters. The disability insurance company must explain why they did not agree with the medical or vocational expert’s’ opinion that supported your disability. Additionally, they must explain why they did not agree with the Social Security Administration determination of disability (if applicable). The letter must also include any of the disability insurance company’s rules, policies, or regulations that were relied upon in making their determination. Lastly, the disability benefits denial letter must give you an explanation of your right to access to your claim file and other documentation.

The new ERISA regulations must give you an opportunity to “review and respond to new information.” For example, assume your appeal denial is based on a reason different from the initial reason given for the claim denial. You will now have a right to respond to the new reason. You may do this by providing additional information or documentation supporting your claim.

The last major point in the new regulations deals with a violation of ERISA law in the disability insurance plan or policy. If the plan or policy does not follow the law in terms of claims procedures, then you could sue under ERISA. Typically, you have to appeal, which is also known as exhausting all administrative remedies, under the plan before you can file a lawsuit. However, under the new regulations, if the plan does not meet ERISA requirements for claims procedures, you will have been considered to have met all requirements and can file a lawsuit right away.

Let Us Help You Today

The new ERISA regulations are a positive step for anyone filing a claim under their ERISA disability policy. Although the regulations will not take effect until January 2018, disability insurance companies are encouraged to start changing their policies and plans to meet the new requirements.

Even with these new regulations, filing for disability benefits claims or appealing a denial is a complicated process. Having an experienced disability insurance attorney help you through it can make a huge difference in the outcome. The experienced disability insurance attorneys at Dabdoub Law Firm are familiar with all stages of the claims process. Taking into consideration the new regulations, they can ensure you get the most out of your disability insurance policy.

Call us today at (800) 969-0488 to get started with a member of our team.

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