How to Appeal a Denied Disability Insurance Claim

Insurance Services Tips 

If you have been denied disability insurance, you are not alone. It is common for insurance companies to deny claims for various reasons. However, just because your claim has been denied does not mean that you are not entitled to benefits. In this article, we will discuss how to appeal a denied disability insurance claim.

Understanding the Reasons for Denial

Before you begin the appeals process, it is important to understand why your claim was denied. Insurance companies deny claims for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Lack of medical evidence: If you do not have enough medical evidence to support your claim, the insurance company may deny your claim.
  • Pre-existing conditions: If you have a pre-existing condition that is not covered under your policy, the insurance company may deny your claim.
  • Failure to meet the definition of disability: If you do not meet the definition of disability under your policy, the insurance company may deny your claim.
  • Failure to meet the waiting period: If you have not met the waiting period specified in your policy, the insurance company may deny your claim.

It is important to carefully review the denial letter from the insurance company to determine the specific reason for the denial. This will help you determine the best course of action for your appeal.

Gathering Additional Medical Evidence

If your claim was denied due to lack of medical evidence, you may need to gather additional medical evidence to support your claim. This may include:

  • Medical records: Request copies of all medical records related to your disability from your healthcare providers. These records should include any diagnostic tests, treatment plans, and notes from your doctors regarding your condition.
  • Functional capacity evaluation: A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) is a test that measures your ability to perform physical tasks related to your job. This may include lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling. An FCE can provide objective evidence of your limitations and help support your claim.
  • Independent medical examination: An independent medical examination (IME) is an evaluation by a doctor who is not your regular healthcare provider. The purpose of an IME is to provide an unbiased opinion on your medical condition. An IME can be helpful if the insurance company has disputed the severity or cause of your disability.

It is important to work with your healthcare providers to gather the necessary medical evidence for your appeal. Your doctors can provide detailed reports on your condition and limitations, which can be used to support your claim.

Reviewing Your Policy

If your claim was denied due to a pre-existing condition or failure to meet the definition of disability, you should review your policy to determine if the denial was justified. You should pay particular attention to the following:

  • Pre-existing condition exclusion: If your policy has a pre-existing condition exclusion, review the exclusion to determine if it applies to your claim. The exclusion may only apply if you were diagnosed with the condition within a certain timeframe before the policy went into effect.
  • Definition of disability: Review the definition of disability in your policy to determine if you meet the criteria. The definition may vary depending on the type of policy you have, but generally, you must be unable to perform the duties of your occupation due to a medical condition.

If you believe that the insurance company has misinterpreted your policy or applied the policy incorrectly, you may be able to use this as the basis for your appeal.

Appealing the Denial

Once you have gathered additional medical evidence and reviewed your policy, you can begin the appeals process. The appeals process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Internal appeal: The first step in the appeals process is to file an internal appeal with the insurance company. This involves submitting additional medical evidence and any other relevant information that supports your claim. The insurance company will review your appeal and make a decision. It is important to follow the appeals process outlined in your policy and to submit all required documentation within the specified timeframe.
  2. External review: If your internal appeal is denied, you can request an external review. This involves having an independent third party review your claim and make a decision. The external review may be conducted by an independent medical expert or an arbitration panel. The decision of the external reviewer is usually binding.
  3. Lawsuit: If your external review is also denied, you may need to file a lawsuit against the insurance company. This is a last resort and should only be pursued if you believe that the insurance company has acted in bad faith or violated your legal rights.

Tips for a Successful Appeal

  • Be persistent: The appeals process can be long and frustrating, but it is important to be persistent and stay focused on your goal. Keep in mind that most disability claims are eventually approved, so don't give up.
  • Keep good records: Keep copies of all medical records, correspondence with the insurance company, and any other relevant information. This will help you keep track of your appeal and provide evidence if you need to file a lawsuit.
  • Seek legal advice: If you are unsure about the appeals process or your legal rights, seek the advice of an experienced disability insurance attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the appeals process and ensure that your rights are protected.


If your disability insurance claim has been denied, it is important to understand why and to gather additional medical evidence if necessary. Reviewing your policy and appealing the denial can help you get the benefits you deserve. With persistence and the right support, you can successfully appeal a denied disability insurance claim. Remember to stay organized, keep good records, and seek legal advice if necessary.