When you become disabled, the last thing you want to have to deal with is more regulations and paperwork, but unfortunately it is a necessary evil in order for you to receive the compensation you’re entitled to. That can become even more complicated when regulations that have been in place for years undergo changes.

Making sense of changes to disability claims is difficult for everyone. If muddling through the legalese is giving you a headache, don’t sweat it—just read our simple, informative guide to understanding insurance details. This guide will help you understand what ERISA is and how the recent changes to the insurance and disability claim guidelines may affect your claim.

What is ERISA?

If you’re still feeling lost about insurance in general, it may be helpful to start by breaking down ERISA and its relationship to insurance in the first place. The acronym ERISA stands for the “Employee Retirement Income Security Act” and, simply put, the purpose of this policy is to set standards for pensions, health plans, and retirement benefits. However, since this covers a broad scope, it’s helpful to differentiate between the generic ERISA policy as a whole and the benefits that are covered under ERISA disability plans.

If you have an ERISA plan with your employer, you can reach out to your HR department for a more thorough explanation of what your coverage is for and whether disability is a part of that. If it is, and if you’re in a situation where you need to apply for disability, this policy can make it easier for you to make ends meet.

What are the New Changes?

Disability plans are precisely the focus of these new changes to ERISA policies, and if you’re looking for a short, simple answer, here it is: the changes are actually good! Although you may be skeptical of good changes to a government plan—and who could blame you? — the ERISA updates are actually helpful to those who benefit from this policy.

That’s because under this new standard, it’s harder for insurance companies to deny your claims. If you’ve been down that road before, then you know how frustrating it can be. Well, this new update seeks to provide you with new ways to fight back when you’re declined, helping keep the process fast and fair.

How Does it Work?

Recognizing that disability claims are the subject of extensive and embittered court battles, the federal government is working to:

  • Minimize the need for litigation, meaning faster approvals and less time spent in court
  • Reduce the stress of having your disability claim denied

They plan to do this by instituting new policies which demand an increased—and intensive—review of each and every disability claim. Raising the standards for case review insures that claims are not unjustly denied, and it also means that by the time you get an answer on your claim, that answer will be the result of copious review, operated under new and restrictive standards. It also means that your claim is less likely to be denied due to issues that may result from insufficient review. Basically, they will take the time to look over all the evidence you send in as a matter of policy, as opposed to the glossing over it might have gotten in the past.

In the end, if your claim is denied, you won’t be left in the dark about it. These new changes dictate that you are legally entitled to a clear explanation of why your claim was denied in addition to information about how you can appeal that decision. And it also means that all claims submitted on or after Jan. 1, 2018 will be given a transitional provision applying to denial notices issued through the end of 2017.

While the new changes to ERISA don’t guarantee that your claim will be approved or that you’ll never have trouble with claims processing again, they are a step forward in the right direction: a direction that acknowledges the difficulties faced by those who depend on disability claims. It also sets a new standard by declaring that you have a right to increased attention, accessible options, and better results.

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