There is every reason in the world to reach out and get some help from a lawyer.
Attorney Kristen Gyolia is a ‘master of the paper chase’ and has seen literally thousands of letters, forms and statements of claim in her practice as a disability benefits lawyer at the Fields Law Firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“This is a very, very stressful time for people,” says Gyolia, who first started helping people with disability claims while she was in law school. “I would say one hundred percent of our clients are stressed out by this process. They are looking for someone to guide them through the process and help them find answers to questions that they just never anticipated they would have to answer.”
They have a lot on the line. Their health is compromised in some way and they are very likely facing financial worries because of a new diagnosis or disability.
“These are forms they have very likely never seen before,” says Gyolia. “This can be really, really intimidating for people. Then add the fact that their livelihood, their future income depends on them filling out this form properly. They are concerned about getting everything right. They are worried that their benefits may be denied or discontinued if they don’t get this right.”
Fortunately for her clients Gyolia can look at those forms and easily translate what they mean.
“I think the most important part is that we walk our clients through these forms line by line,” says Gyolia. “The form may ask how many hours a day do you sit, stand or walk? Someone might write down that they sit for 12 hours a day. But their medical records may say they can only sit for thirty minutes at a time.”
It is important to make sure the insurance company gets a complete understanding of the claim together with all the supporting information possible.
"They are worried that their benefits may be denied or discontinued if they don’t get this right.”
“We try to get individuals to realize these forms shouldn’t limit you if you need to explain something further,” she adds. “The most important thing is to “over-explain” and fill in all the blanks. If the question on the form doesn’t pertain to your situation or circumstances then you need to find another way to explain it.”
“If you have to put more information on another page then that’s what they should do,” says Gyolai.
It is very likely that the Proof of Disability letter that is being prepared for the insurance company in support of an individual’s claim will also need to be accompanied by a handful of other letters and forms.
Clients may start to feel like they are getting lost in a blizzard of forms.
“There are usually a couple of other forms that the insurer is requesting that we fill out at the same time,” says Gyolia. “We will start putting everything together in a package to send off to the insurance company. Then they can make a determination on whether to start paying benefits.”
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“When people use an attorney in the application phase we are able to go beyond the form, we are able to give the insurer a lot more evidence in terms of what they are asking for and it goes without saying that the insurance company might be inclined to take an individual’s claim more seriously if you have an attorney working on it,” says Gyolai. “And, when they know a lawyer is working on your claim the insurance company knows that you will appeal if that claim is denied.”
And when it comes to working through that appeal process – well Kristen Gyolai has done that before too – line by line.