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Employee disability policies

More complicated and problematic are fee agreements in private disability insurance cases. These cases usually consist of an insurance company attempting to deny an application for benefits; or a company trying to terminate benefits that are already being paid.

Often an insurance company ignores the individual's legitimate disability and intentionally attempts to deny benefits on a false or dubious pretext. At this point the disabled person needs an experienced lawyer to stand up to the insurance company. The lawyer may be able to pressure the insurance company by asserting the client's contractual rights through one or more letters, by utilizing appeal procedures, or when these options fail, by suing the insurance company.

Often in these cases there is not as significant an accumulation of retroactive benefits as occurs in Social Security cases. Hence, it may be more difficult for a lawyer to obtain his fee by taking a percentage of the retroactive benefits on a contingency basis.

Several other possibilities exist for obtaining a fair fee. One would be an hourly fee; the drawback here would be that most people would not be able to afford more than a few hours of the lawyer's work, and cases which go to trial would entail many, many hours of the lawyer's billable time. Beyond several hours of such time, most people would only be able to afford a lawyer's time if they actually succeed in winning their benefits. So this sets up an intrinsic need for some type of contingency agreement.