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The Hartford Long-Term Disability Denial: How to Appeal

Hartford Long Term Disability Denial: How to Appeal

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., more commonly known as The Hartford, is a prominent United States investment and insurance company.  Founded in 1810 as a fire insurance company, The Hartford helped insure customers through major tragedies such as the Chicago fire of 1871 and the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.

Over the centuries, The Hartford grew to take on a range of additional services, such as auto insurance and employee benefits.  In 1920, legendary baseball player Babe Ruth even purchased a disability plan through The Hartford.  Today, if you purchase a long-term disability (LTD) plan through The Harford, you can be covered for 50-70 percent of your pre-disability earnings, depending on your policy.

However, filing a disability claim with The Hartford is not always smooth, and while we cannot speak for Babe Ruth’s experience, it is not uncommon for claimants to be wrongfully denied benefits.  Often, insurance companies will prioritize their own business over the needs of their claimants or terminate benefits after an initial approval.  Dealing with an appeal for long-term disability benefits can be stressful, especially after the work of filing an initial claim.  However, this is not a process that you must take on alone.

The long-term disability attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick are ready to assist you with your appeal against The Hartford.  Our attorneys have 33 years of collective experience handling these types of cases against insurance companies.  We can help you build an appeal to get you the benefits you deserve.  You can call 800-544-9144 for a free consultation with a member of our team.

Why Did The Hartford Deny My Claim?

When your long-term disability claim is denied, or your benefits are terminated, you will likely receive a letter from The Hartford notifying you of the change.  This letter should contain the reasons your long-term disability insurance claim has been denied or your benefits terminated.  You will want to thoroughly read and understand this letter so you can begin to prepare for your appeal.  By understanding the reasons The Hartford issued your denial, you can build a case that strengthens the areas of weakness in your initial claim.

Long-Term Disability (LTD) 101

The Hartford may try to find any reason to deny your claim.  The Hartford may make a visit to your home to interview you in person, hire a private investigator to keep surveillance on you, or investigate your social media.  Because of this, you will want to be as thorough in your disability evidence as possible so that The Hartford cannot pinpoint anything that might conflict with your claim.

Reasons The Hartford might deny your claim can include:

  • You did not satisfy the policy’s definition of disability: In order to be approved for long-term disability benefits, your evidence must satisfy the definition of disability in your policy. This can sometimes be difficult, especially when companies like The Hartford include specific or confusing policy requirements.  When filing your appeal, you want to make sure that you closely evaluate your policy’s definition of disability and gather strong evidence that will leave no room for The Hartford to find fault.
  • Insufficient evidence: Sometimes, claimants simply do not submit enough evidence to prove their disability. Medical records alone are often not enough to fully satisfy your policy’s requirements or convince an insurance company of your disability.  The more evidence you provide, the stronger your appeal will be.  You can get additional forms of evidence by seeking further medical evaluations or by consulting a vocational expert.  A vocational expert can assess your ability to work in your own occupation, or any occupation, while impaired.
  • Video Surveillance: The Hartford may hire a private investigator to keep surveillance on you. It is, unfortunately, within the rights of insurance companies to watch and record you in your personal life.  The Hartford may use this surveillance to catch you at something, such as an activity or an action, that may disprove your disability.  For this reason, you will want to be as thorough and accurate with your evidence as possible to make sure The Hartford cannot find any loopholes in your appeal.
  • Social media investigation: The Hartford may also investigate your activity on social media.  Social media tends to be where we put the “best” versions of ourselves on display, but that can cause problems for an LTD claim.  We are more likely to post our vacation pictures than we are to post about the hardships of a disability.  However, vacation pictures may signal a red flag to The Hartford that your disability is not as impairing as it seems, even if that is not actually true.  If you are appealing for benefits, you may want to exercise discretion with what you post online and make sure that the evidence you submit for your claim is strong enough to dispute any arguments The Hartford may devise.
  • The Hartford hires their own experts to evaluate you: The Hartford may hire their own medical experts to assess you for additional evaluations. This can be damaging to your claim, as experts hired by insurance companies are often biased and may conduct unfair evaluations.  To combat this, you may want to seek additional assessments from medical and vocational experts you trust.

The Tools You Need to Appeal a Denied Long-Term Disability Claim from The Hartford

In your appeal for long-term disability benefits, you will want to build a case that combats any of the potential reasons for denial listed above.  The evidence you submit for your appeal can be crucial.  If your long-term disability plan is governed by ERISA, the appeal is generally your last chance to introduce new evidence.  If your case is taken to court, you will not be able to submit anything further.

How ERISA Impacts Long-Term Disability Claims

It is important to carefully consult your denial letter and build your appeal based on the reasons your claim was denied.  Steps that can be taken in your appeal for a denied long-term disability claim from The Hartford include:

  • Reevaluating your initial claim: If there are any errors in your initial claim, now is the time to fix them. Evaluate the language you use in describing your disabling condition.  Terms like “never” or “always” may be too broad or generalizing, and The Hartford may take these statements literally.  For example, if you say you are “never” able to lift more than five pounds, but The Hartford catches you on camera lifting a bag of groceries, they may use that as evidence to deny your claim or terminate your benefits.  You may want to avoid using such generalizations in your appeal and correct any such errors.
  • Obtaining additional evidence from experts: It can be very beneficial to your claim to seek additional evaluations, especially if The Hartford employs their own experts to assess you. A claim with multiple medical opinions is stronger than a claim subsisting on medical records alone.  Such evidence can include physical, cognitive, and vocational assessments.
  • Treating physician reports: A written report from your treating physician may be able to highlight aspects of your condition that may be overlooked in official medical documentation. Your physician can point out details of your health in a personal and detailed way that can be very beneficial to your claim.
  • Statements from family, friends, and coworkers: Personal acquaintances have likely seen the intimate ways your condition affects you. Family and friends may be able to indicate how your condition impairs you in your personal life or at home, while coworkers can attest to how your condition affects you at work.  These kinds of testimonies can be a very valuable supplement to your medical evidence.

How Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick Can Help You with Your Appeal

Perhaps one of the best things you can do when filing an appeal is seek legal counsel.  While you can handle your appeal on your own, a long-term disability lawyer may be able to advise you on the steps you can take to ensure that your appeal is strong.  The appeal stage is critical, and you likely want your long-term disability journey to end with an approval of benefits instead of another denial and a court case.  The legal team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD has experience handling appeals against The Hartford and will work to ensure your claim is approved without any additional court proceedings.  However, if you must file a lawsuit against The Hartford, we have experience to hold them accountable in court.

Definition of Disability in Long-Term Disability Policies Explained

Our long-term disability attorneys will evaluate your policy and help you obtain the evidence necessary to meet your definition of disability.  We can take care of the communication between you and The Harford, as well as communication with your doctors.  CCK understands that simultaneously managing a health condition while filing an appeal for benefits can be difficult and stressful, and our legal team wants to take that burden from you.

We understand how companies like The Hartford may prioritize their business over the needs of the insured.  If you suspect your case has been wrongfully denied or terminated, or The Hartford is acting in bad faith, it can be especially helpful to seek an attorney.  We want you to receive the benefits you deserve and will help you overcome any obstacles The Hartford may put in front of you.

Contact the Attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD for a Free Consultation

The long-term disability attorneys at CCK are prepared to help you with your Hartford long-term disability claim.  With our knowledge of long-term disability practices and ERISA laws, we are prepared to fight for your claim.  If you have a disabling condition and are unable to work, you can speak with a member of our team at 800-544-9144 or contact us online for a free consultation.