The 10 Biggest Legal Mistakes Dentists Make When Filing a Disability Claim (Mistake #4)

MISTAKE NO. 4:  Blindly Attending an Independent Medical Exam

After submitting their claim, dentists may be asked to submit to an “independent” medical examination by someone chosen and paid for by their insurer.  They may also be asked to undergo exams by someone other than a physician.  Before submitting to an independent medical exam or any other exam or evaluation, dentists must first ensure that their carrier has a right to conduct the exam per the policy language.  For example, a neuropsychological exam is conducted over several days by a psychologist, not a physician, and insurers often use the subjective findings from such an exam to deny benefits.  If the policy requires submitting only to “medical exams” or exams “conducted by a physician,” there is certainly an argument that a physician need not submit to neuropsychological testing.  Further, dentists may wish to be accompanied by an attorney or other legal or medical representatives who can monitor the independent medical exam.  Other considerations include receiving the examiner’s curriculum vitae in advance; limiting the scope of the exam to ensure that no disagnostic test that is painful, protracted, or intrustive will be performed; having the exam videotaped or audiotaped; and receiving a copy of all notes and materials generated.

Action Step:  Because the “independent” medical exam is a tool used for denying benefits where possible, dentists should work with an attorney to ensure that their rights are protected during this process.

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