Benjamin W. Glass’ book Robbery Without a Gun, is a thin book as books go. Even though modest in length the message speaks volumes—and one that you should seriously consider getting your hands on if you have a long-term disability (LTD) policy or have recently become disabled.
If you are someone who has never been denied a long-term disability claim or know someone who has had the unpleasant experience, then you might think that the book is sheer fantasy. Coming from the perspective of having someone close to me who has gone through the LTD grinder this book reads more like a Shakespearean tragedy that leaves you with a heavy heart. Just knowing that people across the U.S. are being denied LTD simply because someone in a nondescript office ‘feels’ that the person filing a disability claim ‘should’ be able to work is both disturbing and unconscionable.
Glass lists 15 common mistakes that LTD claimants make when filing a claim and 7 nasty things that LTD insurance providers plant in contracts to be used later to deny you benefits. The contract provisions mentioned are not required by any state or Federal law. Most employers are unaware of their existence or how they will be used against disabled employees who attempt to file a LTD claim.
The author advises you to get a copy of your disability contract (it must be furnished to you within 30 days of a written request to an employer) to see if any of these provisions are mentioned:
- The insurance company has the “discretion” to determine your benefits.
- You only get paid benefits if you can’t perform “each and every” important duty of your job.
- Your benefits are limited to 24 months if your disability is caused or contributed to in any fashion by mental illness, depression, or anxiety.
- You benefits are not payable, or are limited, if your illness is fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, or any illness where the symptoms are “self reported” and thus not “verifiable” by a blood test or other diagnostic study.
- Your benefits will be terminated if the insurance company says you could work part time in any job, but don’t.
If you find any of those provisions in your contract seriously consider purchasing your own LTD insurance policy. Tip: don’t go through an employer and if you have your own company do not use any company funds to purchase the policy. If your employer or company becomes involved, in any way, when you acquire a LTD policy, the plan may fall under the ERISA guidelines. This even means if you found an advertisement for a LTD plan stapled to a bulletin board at work.
If your LTD benefits fall under ERISA you should be aware that any money paid to you is taxable income. On the other hand, if the LTD policy falls outside of ERISA’s oversight, then the benefit paid to you will be tax free. That is something to consider when most disability policies provide coverage that ranges from 60%-66% of your income.
It is worth mentioning that 99.9% of all LTD claims that are denied fall under the Federal ERISA guidelines. If your policy does fall under ERISA, then see ONLY an attorney that specializes in ERISA. These attorneys are extremely difficult to find, but do not give up until you do find one.
One thing that Glass dispels is the false belief which most of us have—that what an employer (or Human Resources employee) says means something to the insurance company. However well meaning your employer or HR person is, it means absolutely nothing to the insurance company. Insurance companies do not care if the owner of the company ‘knows’ that you are disabled, much less what someone from HR ‘thinks’. [In Robbery Without a Gun you’ll learn that insurance companies care even less about what your doctor has to say about your condition—and the courts support this thinking.]
He also advises you to be cautious when the insurance company provides a ‘free’ consult to help you with your Social Security Disability claim. It only helps the insurance company to move you into a position where they can later deny your claim. Another important point is that some insurance companies will deduct the legal fees for the services they provided you in obtaining your SSDI benefits from future payments.
As mentioned previously, this is not a thick book, although I’d suggest that you read it with a pad and pencil by your side because you will want to take notes. There are a lot of nuggets of knowledge to mine and any one of them you might find priceless.