Many long-term disability insurers are resistant to pay out benefits. Often, they suspect that claimants are exaggerating their injuries, and one technique for challenging claims is to request an independent medical examination, called an IME.
As we always tell our clients, the term is misleading. These medical exams are anything but independent. However, there are things you can do to protect your right to disability benefits.
Many of our clients would rather avoid an IME, and we can not blame them. However, there is a simple reason why you probably need to attend—your long-term disability insurance policy likely contains a clause stating that if you refuse an IME, the insurer can terminate your benefits.
In practice, if your insurer requests an IME, you will need to attend.
Your insurance company might request an exam at any point. For example:
Also, an insurer can ask you to attend an IME if they are looking to terminate your benefits, often because you have been receiving them for a very long time.
Some doctors who handle IMEs do so in a fair and professional manner. However, it is also likely that the doctor has a history of writing slanted reports that benefit the insurance company. Many of these doctors are also looking to do repeat business with insurance companies, so they have an incentive to give a report that is favorable to the insurer.
Other doctors might have a history of professional misconduct or negligent treatment. They might also not be specialists in the injury or disability that you have.
It is impossible to know ahead of time whether the doctor will be fair. Regardless, what the doctor writes is out of your hands. You can not control it. All you can do is go to the IME on the appointed date.
If you receive notice to attend an exam, you should let your attorney know about it. He or she might not be able to block the IME, but a lawyer can often minimize the negative consequences. Remember that an IME that states you are not disabled does not end the dispute. You can always present your own evidence to the contrary.
If it would make you feel more comfortable, you can ask a friend or relative to attend the IME with you. Also, remember not to give away too much information to the doctor. Answer his or her questions, but do not volunteer information.
The Law Offices of Michael Bartolic represent disabled Chicago residents as they fight for their rights to benefits. If you have a question, please contact our office right away. You can call 312-635-1600. We offer a free initial consultation.