MetLife (Metropolitan Life Insurance Company) has offered group disability policies through employers as well as individual disability policies through insurance agents for a long time. While they still manage both types of policies, as of March 6, 2017, MetLife no longer sells individual disability policies.
MetLife has had a long-standing buyout program in their individual disability policy division but has been offering buyouts on their group long term disability (LTD) claims only since 2016. This probably explains why their buyout offer letters can seem confusing to a claimant who is not familiar with how a financial institution calculates the present value of future benefits.
Accepting a MetLife long term disability buyout is a big decision. Any offer to settle your disability claim is entirely voluntary and you do not have to accept a low-ball offer from MetLife to settle your claim if you are not comfortable with the amount offered.
There are many things to consider in determining whether MetLife is making a reasonable offer and it is always recommended that you speak with a lawyer experienced with MetLife disability claims before accepting any offer to settle a claim. While there are many good reasons why you should consider accepting a buyout every client’s situation is unique and it is important to weigh and balance the pros and cons against your unique financial needs.
While your personal financial needs will be specific to you, you should ask yourself several important questions before deciding to settle such as:
These are not the only questions that you should ask yourself and you should not just focus on the numbers. There are many aspects to a disability buyout that should be carefully considered and contacting the right disability buyout attorneys with the right resources is key.
The benefits of taking a buyout are as diverse as everyone’s financial needs. But here are a few common advantages to settling your open claim:
The hassle of completing claims forms every few months is an annoyance to both you and your doctors. Settling your claim will relieve you of having to worry about getting the claim forms completed on time and getting them completed properly. Also, it doesn’t help your anxiety knowing that 8 out of 10 denials at this stage have to do with a mistake during a review—whether a mistake on a claim form or some mistake made by a treating physician.
Insurance companies love performing surveillance on their claimants even if everything is going smoothly. Knowing this can leave you in a frequent state of paranoia. You’re afraid to go out in public thinking some private investigator may be following you since you’ve heard so much about other disability claimants being denied. Private investigators have been known to go to great lengths to obtain evidence that can be used to easily mischaracterize your activity levels just to give the insurance company something juicy to work with.
Your primary treating physician who has been completing your ongoing claim forms and doing a great job at it is now retiring or leaving the practice. Now you’re forced to find a new doctor, but you can’t seem to find a doctor who is willing to complete disability paperwork. It seems that every doctor you ask has a policy against certifying disability or doesn’t believe in disability. You know MetLife just performed a medical review and you would rather just settle the claim and rid yourself of the hassle of any more claim forms.
Sometimes things change for the worse and you are concerned about your family’s financial well-being if something happens to you. You would rather take of lump sum of money and set up an annuity that will continue to pay you regardless of what happens and without having to undergo periodic medical reviews.
Also, your health could change for the better and you find yourself in a position where you believe you can work part time in the future or start your own business that will accommodate your disability. Taking a buyout could help you with the startup costs or act as a cushion while you transition.
A settlement is not for everyone and all the advantages should be considered as well as the disadvantages. Here are a few reasons not to accept a buyout:
With a large lump sum of money, friends or relatives may jump on the opportunity to ask for money. If this is your only source of income and you find it hard to say no when you’re asked for help, then taking a buyout may not be for you.
If you have a lifetime rider on your policy with an own occupation definition of disability and your family has a long history of longevity, then you may be losing too much money by taking a buyout.
If your benefit is taxable, the tax implications of taking a lump sum settlement could be severe. The taxability of your benefits and how a lump sum payout will be taxed should be carefully reviewed with an experienced tax professional, disability buyout lawyer and financial advisor.
On group disability policies, MetLife will resist deviating from their initial buyout offer which can sometimes be low when compared to offers seen from other insurance companies. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact a disability buyout attorney for help. There are many aspects to a buyout, and you should never sign a settlement release without legal counsel. Also, insurance companies have been known to make mistakes and experienced professionals can quickly detect any mistakes that could affect the amount of any buyout offer.
Buyouts on individual disability policies come with more variables that can affect the calculations on a settlement offer. The more variables, the more possibilities there are for negotiating.
Contacting a buyout attorney in advance will allow you to prepare the claim for the best possible buyout before an offer is made.
It’s important to understand that as long as you’re on claim and subject to ongoing reviews there is always a possibility that your claim could be terminated. As long as your claim is in the risk management pool MetLife can invoke their policy rights to conduct reviews by any means allowable under the policy. This includes in person interviews, surveillance, independent medical evaluations and more. That being said, some claims are more at risk of termination than others and MetLife should not seek to terminate your claim simply because you decided not to accept an offer to settle. They understand that a buyout is not right for everyone and sometimes it simply does not make sense to settle the claim.
Also, in a situation where you approach MetLife seeking a buyout, you must be careful in your approach. Setting off red flags by divulging too much information too early could arise suspicion and trigger a review that eventually ends with a denial of benefits.
You should carefully consider your options with experienced buyout lawyers before reaching out to MetLife.
Once you’ve made sure all your ducks are in a row and you’ve decided you would rather take your chances and approach MetLife on your own then you can start by asking your claim manager. Your claim manager can forward your file to MetLife’s settlement department and if they find you meet their criteria, they will likely extend a take it or leave it offer. If you have already reached out to MetLife and you are waiting on a response it is not too late to contact a buyout settlement attorney.