The 10 Biggest Legal Mistakes Dentists Make When Filing a Disability Claim (Mistake #7)

Next in the list of The 10 Biggest Legal Mistakes Dentists Make When Filing a Claim for Disability, adopted from the article by disability insurance attorney Edward O. Comitz, published by SEAK, Inc. (2005):

MISTAKE NO. 7:  Quantifying Time

Dentists should be wary of insurance companies asking them to compartmentalize in percentages what activities they were engaged in pre- and postdisability.  To the extent that there is any crossover, companies will often deny benefits or provide benefits for merely a residual disability.  It is important that dentists broadly describe their important duties—rather than their incidental duties—so that the insurer has a clear understanding of the thrust of their occupation.  For example, in response to a question about principal duties and the percentage of time spent on each duty, an orthodontist may be better off stating “100% orthodontia” rather than compartmentalizing each and every incidental task (e.g., patient intake, supervising employees, follow-up visits) into discrete percentages.  The reason is the insurer may erroneously consider an incidental task a “principal duty,” and therefore downgrade the amount of benefits.  For example, where a dentist has duties as a businessman (e.g., supervising staff, overseeing payroll), the insurer may argue that the disabled dentist can still manage his or her practice and is therefore only partially disabled.

Action Step:  Dentists should not quantify their time until after they fully understand the definitions of “principal duties,” “disability,” and “occupation” under their policy.

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