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Disability Income Insurance: While On Disability

How To Handle Telephone Calls

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If you receive a call from a representative of the insurer:

If the timing is not convenient, say so -- and request a call at a more convenient time.

Just because the timing is convenient for the caller, doesn't mean it's convenient for you. Even if it is convenient, you may want to take time to gather your thoughts and review the facts that could be relevant to the situation. You may even want to be able to

Assume that the call is being recorded.

The caller should tell you if the call is being recorded. Even if the caller assures you there is no recording, assume that you are indeed being recorded. The assumption will help keep you from saying things that you will later regret. 

Assume you are not talking with a friend. It is safer to assume that::

  • The insurer is seeking to cut its losses with respect to your claim.
  • That while the person may seem friendly and sympathetic, that his or her job is to find cause for stopping payments.

Of course, there are well meaning people who work for insurance companies, and there are companies that really do care about providing a service rather than just focusing on the bottom line - but if you make more cynical assumption you will be more likely to protect your ongoing income.

Don't downplay your symptoms - including to the general greeting: "How are you?"

As a general matter, when asked how we are, people tend to say something like: "I'm fine."  Instead, this is the phone call to unload your complaints.

Don't lose sight of the reason for the call.

Keep in mind that while an investigator will ask about your daily routine on disability, his or her real focus is on your ability to perform job related duties. Particularly keep this in mind when answering questions about how long you can stand, walk, sit, concentrate, or remember things.

It doesn't hurt to periodically relate a symptom to work, as in: "I can't even watch a movie on television without losing track of what's going on. No wonder, I had such trouble keeping track of inventory at work." Just be sure not to overdo it.

If you're asked about a "typical day:" Give the details. Keep in mind the bad days as well as the good ones. If a symptom impacts your daily life, be sure to tell the investigator how it impacts your life. For example:

  • If you eat cold cereal for breakfast because you don't have the energy to cook, don't just say you have cereal for breakfast. Say that you have cold cereal for breakfast and why.
  • If you take a lot of naps during the day because of fatigue which means that you can't do any projects that require long periods of concentration, or you're too depressed to read or focus on a movie, let the investigator know.

Occasionally investigators may try to rattle you with a contradiction between one of your statements and that of your doctor or employer. Don't fall for it. Information from three different people is not going to be identical. Differences happen, so don't be embarrassed about them or get defensive. If you do get defensive, an investigator may think you're hiding something.

Interviews with an investigator can be difficult. If you don't answer, or if you hesitate to answer a question, he or she might think you're hiding something.

Take notes or record the interview (with the investigator's consent).

Have a pad and pen handy. You don't have to write down everything that's said. However, it could ultimately be helpful to keep track of the types of questions asked.

Particularly make a note of anything that is said or asked that seems questionable, noting the language used by the investigator as much as possible.

Be assertive if necessary.

If an investigator asks inappropriate questions, such as questions that are too personal or irrelevant to the status of your disability, politely ask the reason for the questions. Usually the interviewer will back down. If he or she doesn't, you can say something like: "I am uncomfortable answering that question at the moment." Write down the question. Ask the investigator to send you a letter asking the question in writing with an explanation of its relevance.

Don't panic.

The claim or a continuation of your benefit is not likely to rise or fall because of one phone call. Don't worry if you don't think it went well. 

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