Every denial of disability benefits includes the language “your medical records do not support a claim for disability as defined in the Plan.” What does that mean and what can you do about it? Plenty. First you must understand that there are two issues presented in that often used excuse to deny benefits. The definition of disability in the Plan and your medical records. (The issues are the same in an ERISA Plan, Governmental Plan and Individual Plan).

How Does Your Policy Define “Disability”

How is “disability” defined in your Plan? You must read it to know. For example is it “the inability to perform the material duties of your own occupation” or “the inability to perform the material duties of any occupation“? If it is “your own occupation” then get a copy of the job description from your employer. If it is incorrect or incomplete then tell the insurer. Once the job duties are defined then determine how your illness/injury prevents you from performing those duties. If your job requires you to sit at a computer terminal 7 hours a day and you can only sit 2 hours a day then make sure your medical records reflect that fact.

Help Your Doctor Document Your Functional Limitations

How do you control what is in your medical records? The doctor performs the examination orders the diagnostic tests and makes the diagnosis. But the diagnosis alone does not necessarily define what your limitations are in a work setting. One person with a bulging disc may not even know he has a problem while another with the same diagnosis may be totally disabled. Each person is unique and each person reacts differently. To determine how an injury/illness affects you the doctor has to rely on what you tell him.

Do not just tell the doctor that your back hurts and you cannot work. Tell the doctor that your job requires you to sit at a computer 7 hours a day and you can only sit for 30 minutes before the pain gets so bad that you need to lay down for 20 minutes to lessen the pain. Every time you see the doctor and he asks “how are you doing” give him something interesting to write in the medical record so that it supports your inability to perform the material duties of your occupation. Tell him that you really want to return to work but at work you have to get on your knees all the time and you cannot do that yet. Tell him it bothers you that you cannot invite friends over for dinner because you cannot sit at the dinner table long enough to be social. Tell the doctor how your injury/illness affects your life. Let the medical record support your disability

There are many other methods to fully document your disability as well as many other excuses insurers like Unum, Prudential, Hartford, Met Life, Reliance Standard and others use to deny disability claims.