The Wall Street Journal reports that the unexpected and vast number of workers who applied for and received Social Security disability in recent years poses a threat to the national economy in lost wages and taxes. What we found more interesting was a sidebar article, Fewer Out for Good in Private Plan.
An insurance industry association spokesperson notes that 20% of claimants with private disability insurance policies return to work in part because private insurance companies make getting these individuals back to work a priority.
Maybe it is our years of representing claimants who are unjustly denied benefits or whose benefits are improperly terminated, but we hear a distinctive pro-industry sense to this article, particularly the description of private disability insurance companies as “aggressive about sorting malady from malingering.” And we really take issue with the idea that “hundreds of policy owners” file lawsuits challenging termination of benefits.
That doesn’t begin to show the complete picture of claimants who file appeals, exhaust the appeals process and then file lawsuits when their benefits are denied from the start, terminated while on claim, or, perhaps even more unpleasant to contemplate, the claimants who do not file lawsuits or appeals because they are so overwhelmed by a system deliberately designed to keep them from benefits.
At Frankel & Newfield, we think this article misses an important point. Whether the disability insurance policy is private, ERISA or Social Security, Americans would much rather be healthy, well and working, than collecting benefits.