Many large employers provide Group Long Term Disability insurance for their employees. Virtually all of these policies require persons seeking or receiving Group Long Term Disability Insurance to apply for Social Security Disability. The Group Long Term Disability Insurance Company can deduct from the benefit it pays the amount of Social Security Disability the claimant is receiving. To facilitate the applications for Social Security Disability, the group insurance companies regularly recommend the use of a Social Security Disability Law firm or non-lawyer advocate.
These same firms or groups are referred regularly. Although, the United State Constitution guarantees the right of an individual to hire his own attorney, it never occurs to most group disability insurance claimants to do so. This creates a serious conflict of interest for the insurance companies and organizations referred to disabled claimants to help them apply for Social Security Disability.
These problems arise because of the relationships between Social Security Disability and Group Long Term Disability. Firstly, if an individual is getting Social Security Disability it is very difficult for an insurance company to say that the claimants not disabled under the group insurance policy. After all, there has been a finding by the Social Security Administration that the claimant is not able to work.
Secondly, it is very difficult for a group disability carrier to terminate benefits for any existing group disability beneficiary for the same reasons. Courts reviewing denials of long term disability or termination of long term disability place great weight on whether or not the claimant is receiving Social Security Disability. Denial of Social Security Disability has a devastating effect on a long term disability insurance claim.
If the disabled claimant loses his Social Security Disability claim, the group disability carrier has an easier time either denying benefits or terminating benefits being paid to a disabled claimant. This is the essence of the conflict of interest.
Give the fact that the same Social Security Law firms or advocacy groups are referred regularly one must ask whether the firm or group is representing the disabled claimant or the insurance company. The regular referral of a firm or group is not made in vacuum. Is the referral being made because they do a great job for disabled claimant or because they do a great job for the insurance company?
A disabled claimant should not trust the future of his long term disability benefits and social security benefits to a firm or group that is, for unknown or undisclosed reasons, regularly used by the insurance company for social security disability advocacy. It is not clear who these firms or groups represent. Further it’s not clear whether they are acting in the best interest of the claimant or insurance company.
In summary, group long term disability claimants should hire their own experienced Social Security Disability Attorneys. It makes sense to soundly reject a referral from a group disability insurance carrier since the referred firm or group may have a greater allegiance to the insurance company than to the disabled claimant.