How do I receive disability insurance benefits?

Before you file a claim for disability insurance benefits, it helps to keep the following three things in mind:

You’ll need to meet your policy’s disability insurance definition.

Different policies define “disability” in different ways, and that will affect if you qualify for benefits. The two most common disability insurance definitions are “own occupation disability and “any occupation disability.” “Own occupation disability insurance” kicks in when you can no longer perform the job you had when you became disabled while “any occupation disability insurance” only kicks in if you can’t perform any job at all.


You may be subject to a waiting period.

This waiting period is known as the “elimination period” and you can think of it as a deductible measured in time instead of money. The disability insurance elimination period can last anywhere from a few days for short-term disability insurance to two years for long-term disability insurance.


It’s best to file your claim ASAP.

That’s because some policies have a deadline for initial claims. Filing in a timely manner also means your payments will start sooner.

If your disability insurance is through your employer, you’ll want to contact your company’s human resources department to file a claim. If you bought your policy on your own, you’ll want to contact your licensed insurance agent or the disability insurance company directly.

The process of filing a claim for disability insurance starts with submitting a claim packet. It typically includes a:

  • Claimant statement that asks you personal information as well as details about the disability you suffered.
  • Employer statement that asks your employer questions about the nature of your job, how your disability affects your ability to do your job and if you qualified for any other disability benefits.
  • Physician’s statement from the doctor treating you for your disability. Your doctor will be asked about your disability, how long you’ve had it, treatments you’ve undergone and their thoughts on when (or if) you can return to work.
  • Bank information form so you can receive your disability insurance payments via direct deposit.

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to hear back about your disability insurance claim. Common reasons for why disability insurance claims are rejected include:

  • You didn’t meet the disability definition as spelled out in your policy.
  • You misrepresented key information in your disability insurance application.
  • The injury or illness is excluded in the disability insurance policy. (A common exclusion is for pre-existing conditions.)
  • The illness or injury arose from an excluded cause such as drug use.

If your disability insurance claim is rejected, you may be able to file an appeal with the disability insurance company.

If it’s accepted, you will usually receive your first disability insurance payment the first day of the month after the elimination period ends. You will keep receiving payments until you can return to work or until your disability insurance benefit period ends.

The disability insurance income you receive, as well as when you receive it and for how long, all depend on your particular disability insurance policy. That’s why it is so important to thoroughly explore your options and to understand your policy before you need it.

The best way to learn more about disability insurance and to get a disability insurance quote is from a licensed insurance agent. Check out our agent locator to get started today.

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