DISABILITY TIP OF THE WEEK: How long do I have to appeal?

Tucker Law Group
September 16, 2008
ERISA PLANS
Every disability insurance plan is different, but disability claims that are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) must allow you an opportunity to appeal if your claim is denied. The letter denying your benefits must tell you how long you have to appeal. Usually you will have 180 days from the date of the denial letter to appeal. Once your plan administrator has received your appeal, it will have 45 days to render a decision. If necessary, your plan administrator can take an additional 45 days. If they take longer than 90 days, your attorney can advise you whether filing a lawsuit is advisable. In some instances, your insurance provider will pay you a lump sum “by exception” while they continue to review your claim beyond the 90 day deadline.Most plans have a provision that requires a second appeal before filing a lawsuit. The deadline to appeal varies, but is often another 180 days. Again, the plan administrator can take 45 to 90 days to render a decision.INDIVIDUAL POLICIES
Every individual policy has different deadlines. The letter denying your claim should tell you how long you have to appeal. Your policy will also have a provision that explains the appeal process and any deadlines.

SOCIAL SECURITY
If your claim for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, you are allowed 60 days to file an appeal from the date of the denial, plus 5 days for mailing. If you miss the deadline, you will be required to start the process over from the beginning. At the initial application phase, as well as after you have filed a Request for Reconsideration, the Social Security Administration can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to make a decision. If your claim is denied after your Request for Reconsideration you again have 60 days plus 5 days for mailing to appeal.

REMEMBER: Every plan is different, whether governed by ERISA or not, so be sure to request a copy from your insurance carrier or employer. Pay close attention to the deadlines stated, or you could lose your chance to appeal or file a lawsuit.