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Handling an Independent Medical Exam

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Handling an Independent Medical Exam

27 Nov, 2018
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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.

Why You Need to Attend an IME

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.

When can an Insurer Request an IME?

Your insurance company might request an exam at any point. For example:

  • If you have applied for benefits, the insurer might request an IME to confirm that you are disabled or to better understand your disability.
  • If your insurer is changing their definition of disability, an IME will help identify whether you meet the new definition of disabled.
  • If you are appealing a denial of a claim, an insurer might request that you attend an IME.

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.

Why the Doctor Might be Biased

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.

How to Handle an IME

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.

Chicago Long-Term Disability Benefits Lawyer Here to Help

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.

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