How I got disability insurance after being rejected for mental illness

woman looking at the phone sad

The author is not represented.

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I admit it: I never thought about disability insurance until a few years ago. My jobs never offered access to a plan, and I never considered buying a policy on my own.

But once I learned about the disability risks, I realized that this coverage is essential for anyone who can afford the monthly premiums.

The likelihood of experiencing a long-term disability may be higher than expected. One in four people may be out of work for a year or more due to illness, injury or pregnancy, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.

To make matters worse, 51 million American workers have no disability coverage other than Social Security disability insurance, which can be difficult to qualify for.

For the average American, being out of work for a long time could spell financial disaster, especially with a family to support. Once I understood the seriousness of these statistics, I was ready to protect my own income.

My disability insurance denial

I started shopping for a group disability insurance policy through a professional organization. The monthly premiums were much cheaper than an individual policy, so I was eager to submit a claim.

I filled out the forms, sent in my papers, and felt a sense of relief – until I received a painful rejection letter a few weeks later.

I didn’t get past the first two sentences before tears of anger filled my eyes. The company rejected my application for disability insurance because of my history of


depression

. I felt betrayed, vulnerable and ashamed of their decision. The sting of being deemed “too risky” to insure for disability felt like the ultimate rejection.

After weeks of complaining by phone and email, I finally got the insurance company to reverse their decision.

Apply for disability insurance coverage today with help from Policygenius »

Underwriters needed proof that I was no longer depressed by my health care providers, so my psychiatrist and therapist each sent a letter on my behalf. These letters confirmed my current sanity and were enough for a reversal.

How to Get Disability Insurance for Chronic Mental Illness

When you’ve recovered from a past mental illness — and you have proof from a health care provider — it may be easier to qualify for a disability insurance policy. But it can be more difficult with persistent problems.

“If you have a chronic mental illness, disability insurance underwriters may consider you to be in a high-risk category,” says Alexandra Wilsoncertified financial planner at SmartPath in Atlanta.

She says depending on the company, you may get a rejection. Or you may receive an acceptance letter with exclusions for your pre-existing condition. The company may offer limited coverage – or no limitation with higher premiums.

You may also see a limitation endorsement attached to your disability insurance policy. These endorsements — which may restrict coverage for mental health or addiction issues — could limit your benefit period to two years or less. Wilson says some states may require these endorsements for purchasing disability insurance.

To circumvent these potential obstacles, Wilson suggests doing some research. Create a list of two or three companies known to work with people with mental illness.

“Call and ask about their needs and possible runners before you apply,” she recommends. If you’re not sure where to start, seek advice from a financial planner or disability insurance broker.

Disability insurance covers loss of income if you are unable to work. Get coverage today from Policygenius »

About Antoine L. Cassell

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