As disability questions go, this one is a doozy: are “independent” medical exams truly independent?
To answer that question, you first need to know what I’m talking about. When you make a disability claim with your insurance company, there’s a good chance that you’ll be doing so with a statement from your doctor describing the issue that you have. This is your proof – your evidence – that you are suffering from a disability.
Most claimants don’t even think past that. They figure that if a medical doctor has signed off saying they have a disability, that’s the end of the story. But any disability attorney will tell you that insurance companies aren’t just going to pay based on the word of your doctor. Chances are, they will want to schedule more appointments with their disability insurance doctors. These are called independent medical exams.
How Independent Are These Exams?
That’s the big question about independent medical exams: what exactly is independent about them? Theoretically, they are supposed to be conducted by doctors who have no stake in the outcome. Insurance companies would argue that your doctor is more likely to side with you because they know you and have a relationship, so they want someone with fresh eyes looking at you.
Sounds fair, right? But it isn’t. These “so-called” independent disability insurance doctors are not only in the network of your insurance company (you didn’t think they’d send you to someone who wasn’t covered by their plan, did you?), many of them actually advertise to the insurers that they can help them keep their costs down by disputing claims. It’s good for the doctors because they get money from the insurers for seeing you, and good for the insurers because they have an expert opinion that can argue against your claim. The only person it’s not good for? You.
Fighting “Independent” Exams
A good disability attorney knows this going on and knows how to argue against the findings of these “independent” examiners, so it’s wise to get an expert on your side if the insurance company attempts to block your claim.
If you have more long term disability questions, visit our website and see how we can help you.