One of the biggest red flags a claimant can inadvertently create in their disability claim is to move. While there are many legitimate reasons someone can move, claim examiners have been trained to closely scrutinize a case where a claimant moves. New sets of arguments and investigative avenues are opened for the insurance company to use against you. As anyone who’s moved can tell you, moving is difficult at best. And the last thing someone needs, who is already trying to move while dealing with their disability, are new and additional hassles from their disability insurance company, not to mention the added stress of worrying that their benefits will be delayed or stopped. If you’re currently applying for or receiving disability benefits, there are several issues we think you should understand as well as a few tips on how to keep the disability claim process moving smoothly during this stressful time.
Before The Move
There are several important steps a claimant should take before they pack their belongings.
- Find a new doctor, specialist, and/or therapist. This is often much more difficult and time-consuming that it seems. If you’re moving farther than just across town, it’s important that you find a new support system in your new locality. This isn’t just as simple as finding a new physician. You must also find new specialists for your condition(s) and become comfortable with the professionals you’ve chosen. If it’s not possible to visit them before the move, try to set up phone interviews with doctors and therapists to ask any pertinent questions and get an idea whether the professionals are a good match. Also make sure they’re willing to consider and continue your current care and treatment plan, as drastic changes may cause questions and issues with the disability insurance company and cause unnecessary stress for you. Also, having a medical history document on hand (that we’ve mentioned in our blog) is a great idea when changing treatments or doctors.
- Keep all pertinent records together. Insurance companies demand volumes of records and paperwork for you to prove your income, your occupation, and your disability. While you’re still aware of the location of that information, it’s important to gather all of your financial documents and any other important claim information and documents in a safe spot so it doesn’t get accidentally lost during the move. This includes documents such as tax returns, financial records for any business you own or have owned, other documented sources of income or occupational duties, medical records, test results, and any records to medications that have been prescribed. Too many people have horror stories of losing important documents during a move, except in this case, it could mean the loss of your disability benefits.
- Hire a good moving company. If you have conditions that limit your ability to get around, lift heavy objects, or by physically active for an extended period of time, you need to make sure you hire a moving company. Although this seems obvious, many claimants want to maintain a sense of independence and try to pack their belongings themselves – or even try and move themselves. This can be a simple way for the insurance company to terminate your benefits. This is a prime time for video surveillance, and as we’ve mentioned before, some private investigators will use any information they can to please their client, even if it’s out of context. Hiring a reliable moving company to handle the packing and loading will keep investigators from compromising your claim – as well as keeping you healthy.
- Let the claims examiner know of your move. Unfortunately, some claims examiners make bad assumptions when they find out that claimants are moving or have moved. Be proactive and pre-emptive in dealing with the insurance company. Tell them all of the details for your move, the underlying reasons, your preparations, and the steps you’re taking to accomplish the move even though you’re disabled. You may even realize something in the move that can be done in a better manner! Be as thorough as you can and don’t be intimidated by the insurance company.
During The Move
Hiring a reliable moving company is a first step to a successful move, but there are other issues that arise during the actual move itself. If you’re moving far from your current location or have to be in a vehicle for a long time, your disability may interfere with the trip, especially with conditions such as arthritis or chronic back pain. However, there are several steps to take to ensure the move goes smoothly, and you’re able to get to your new home.
- Ride with proper back and neck support. No matter if you’re flying, driving, or riding to your new home, it’s important to provide the proper support for your back and neck, especially if you’re in pain. Rarely do seats offer appropriate support, so make sure to bring your own. For example, bring a lumbar pillow for your lower back. If you don’t have one available, you can use a jacket, sweater, or pillow in its place. Also, a neck pillow can help prevent neck strain while sleeping in one of these seats. A forgotten aspect of support is the leverage provided by your feet. We have all been in a car packed so tight your feet have no room to touch the ground, but a firm surface for your feet is vital to support your back and prevent exacerbating your injuries.
- Move often and take frequent breaks, if possible. Standing and stretching every so often can be helpful at keeping pain and discomfort to a minimum. Movement can also stimulate blood flow, helping the circulation in your back and extremities. Movement helps keep muscle tissue from stiffening and aching. Frequent movements can also help reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs, deep vein thrombosis, one of the biggest risks from sitting for long periods of time. If movement isn’t possible, having cold pack or alternating between cold and heat is another way to try to provide some relief.
- Pack a bag with your essential medications and supplies separately. During the course of a move, many things can be misplaced or buried deep away inside a truck or a box. Make sure you prepare to always have access to what’s needed for your conditions by packing a separate bag that you can carry. This bag should include your medications plus any other equipment or devices you may need for your condition during the trip. Think ahead of anything you may need in unexpected situations, such as being stuck for longer than expected and any emergencies that may arise during the trip.
After The Move
After the move is complete and you’ve arrived, you may think that most of the hard work is done – and to a certain extent, it is. However, you still have to be diligent in not overdoing it in the excitement of arriving in a new place. Take advantage of new opportunities to make your life a little easier. Think of a new home as a blank slate that you can form to your current lifestyle and the limitations of your disability. For example, if you have problems walking up stairs, make sure everything you need on a daily basis is on the same floor. Arrange furniture in a way that makes getting around with your disability easier. Think of all the ways your daily life would have been easier if __________ was done – then make sure it’s done that way in your new house.
Moving can be an unavoidable obstacle that some claimants have to overcome during their disability claim. For example, certain locations may have better weather for your condition (such as dry or warm air), or a spouse or caretaker’s job is transferred, or you’re simply trying to move closer to loved ones when you need their help. Neither your disability insurance policy nor your conditions should prevent you from moving. Being deliberately careful and thoughtful about planning for your move will help keep your claim examiner from creating needless hassles and should also keep you more comfortable during the move. Moving is always a stressful process even in the best of conditions, so preparing and simplifying as many things as possible while dealing with a disability can provide welcome relief.
For more information about the disability insurance claim process or if you find yourself confronting a problem with your disability claim, please give us a call toll-free at (855) 828-4100 or visit our website for a free consultation.