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Boutique New Jersey Disability Law Firm

Rafel LLC is a disability insurance law firm representing people seeking short term and long term disability benefits and long term care. From her home base in Florham Park, NJ, attorney Bonny Rafel helps individuals navigate through the difficult process of filing for disability with insurance companies, and fighting for their benefits when the claims are denied. She helps the elderly with long term care claims, because these vulnerable aged individuals need protection from insurers denying coverage. Her hands-on approach to each case with her team of experienced paralegals creates a strong offense, used daily to deal with insurers who are most interested in denying claims, rather than paying claims.

Our clients receive the personal touch only a small firm can provide. We skillfully tackle claims at all stages, from the initiation of a claim when our clients first find themselves unable to continue working, to the acceptance or denial of the claim, to the administrative appeal process and litigation when necessary.”

Each client is assigned to a dedicated paralegal who alongside Ms. Rafel strategizes the ingredients necessary for a successful claim. With decades of experience, handling over 1,500 disability claims of every variety, she anticipates what the disability insurance companies require to approve of claims when initially filed, saving her clients the expense and distress of extended delays before claims are paid. Ms. Rafel knows how to submit winning claims.

In the current era of disability claims, she explains:

“Today more than ever with millions of Americans out of work, the insurance companies are losing valuable premium dollars. They must make up the shortfall somewhere, so we have seen companies in 2020 amped up their motto of delay, delay, delay. Time is money to the insurance industry, who reap the benefits of holding onto disability income payments that should be paid to the disabled.”

Ms. Rafel has taken well over 100 depositions of disability insurance company employees, insurer medical consultants and vocational rehabilitation professionals, and has studied well over 50,000 pages of confidential insurance company material she obtained in litigation. With this unique experience, she understands the process the disability insurance companies use to funnel cases through their system. What makes one claim a success and another a denial? Read Rafel Law’s section on Claims for her insight. For one thing, focused on “work ability” and “return to work,” disability insurance companies quickly assess claims and rarely spend the time to consider each claim on its own merit and rushes to categorize a claim for a short duration. In reality, each claim is a reflection of a human being’s experience of becoming a person unable to work; everyone’s story is different and needs to be heard. Ms. Rafel is that voice to tell your story.

The Rafel team partners with each client to individually service their claim no matter what stage it is in: filing a new claim, handling ERISA appeals or suing the insurer to get justice for her clients. The Rafel team goes the mat, to win the disability benefits their clients rightfully deserve.

Rafel LLC handles individual disability insurance, ERISA (group) long-term disability cases and long term care claims. Read for yourself what her clients say about her firm and the personal attention that comes with a small boutique law firm. Her clients' successful claims are a testament to her skill and experience in advocating for approvals of claims and filing lawsuits in state and federal court when claims are unjustly denied.

“We treat our clients with respect and help them maintain dignity in the face of dealing with often career ending medical conditions. We know that our clients have enough to worry about with their medical problems, and we are capable and desire to shoulder the responsibility to get our clients the disability benefits they deserve. Trust in our firm is not assumed, but earned through our hands-on transparent team management of our clients as we navigate the course together, for each client as an individual.”

Disability Claims For Doctors and Business Professionals

Professionals often purchased disability policies long ago based on sales pitches promoting the policies as a safety net in the event that disability strikes. But when a disabling condition occurs, insurers scrutinize and investigate new claims often delaying the claim for months before a decision is made. The claimant is suddenly placed under a microscope, where their business past is scrutinized, and the severity of their medical condition questioned. Insurers demand that the claimant sign authorizations allowing them to obtain personal financial data, medical records for years in the past, tax returns. They request medical production data from physicians and much, much more, before deciding to pay a claim.

Our clients hire us to evaluate how changes in their medical status impair their ability to continue working in their own occupation. This may involve changes in their professional medical or dental practice, taking a medical leave, reducing their surgical duties. We evaluate the disability contracts to establish the criteria for a successful claim and then execute our plan with our client.

We assist our professional clients to navigate through the difficulties faced when determining to file for disability, what occupational and medical records to obtain, and file the claims for our clients so that they have the greatest chance of success from the outset. We believe it is enough of a burden to deal with a life changing disability. Leave the claim filing to an experienced disability attorney in New Jersey, Bonny Rafel and her staff.

Disability Claims for Employees of Companies (ERISA)

Employers often offer long term disability benefits to their employees. When employees receive group disability insurance through an employer, and it is covered by ERISA, federal laws protect their ability to seek disability benefits.

ERISA was enacted to provide certain protections for people with private health and pension plans, as well as employer-provided long-term and short-term disability insurance coverage. It regulates employer disability plans, outlining provisions for how claims should be processed, the timeline for processing them, and an individual's rights when a disability claim is denied. The disability income benefits are based on a percentage of your income. The benefits vary based on what insurance policy is issued to cover the benefits. It is important to find out what benefits are available, and usually the Human Resources department of the company can provide this information upon request. While on medical leave for a disability the employee may be eligible for continued benefits that active employees have such as medical, dental, or vision coverage. New Jersey disability lawyer Bonny Rafel and her dedicated staff typically coordinate and file her client's claims for disability under group insurance policies. Disability insurance companies often deny these claims and offer the claimant a chance to review the claim and submit an appeal.

ERISA requires an employee to file an administrative appeal the denial of a claim, but the denial letter the claimant receives is often confusing. In some cases, the insurer provides a single page labeled "appeal" with the denial, baiting the claimant to simply write a one page appeal of the denial. This is a trap. ERISA gives the claimant the right to file an appeal within 180 days of the denial letter, AND to obtain a complete copy of their entire claim file from the insured, free of charge. Most claimants do not understand their rights when their claim is denied. We step in immediately when retained by a claimant whose claim was denied. obtain the entire claim file, review it carefully and plan with our client what evidence to gather and how to most effectively lodge an appeal of the wrongful denial. This may involve witness statements, vocational reviews, medical questionnaires we customize for the claimant's treating doctors to complete; the Rafel firm creatively orchestrates the collection of relevant evidence to prove the claim should be paid.

Short-Term Disability Benefits

New Jersey requires employers to contribute to a state mandatory Temporary Disability Benefits program unless they have a salary continuation or short term disability program providing a certain minimum of benefits for the first six months of a disability. Under the NJTBD, benefits equal two-thirds of an average weekly salary, up to a maximum of $633 each week. Employers located outside New Jersey with New Jersey employees must similarly provide for its NJ employees. Most often large employers retain an insurance company to administer these short term disability benefits (STD).

New Jersey disability attorney Bonny G. Rafel's vast experience with STD claims has shown that the insurance companies administering the STD benefits pressure the disabled employee, often on a weekly basis with forms to complete, updated medical records to obtain and focus on returning the newly disabled person back to work. That is their goal. Her goal in representing clients during the process is facilitating the communication between the client and the insurance company to ensure they have enough information to continue to review and approve of the claim. This often requires us to interact with our client's doctors to be sure they correctly fill out insurance forms set up to trick the doctor into noting the claimant has work ability or can return to work when they cannot.

We know that if our client's claim for STD is denied, they will have great difficulty obtaining long term disability benefits, so we believe that legal representation by a disability lawyer in New Jersey during that time period in most cases is often vital.

Disability Lawsuit in Federal Court

If we have handled the appeal of the wrongful denial and the insurance company upholds the denial, we are on to the next battle, often a lawsuit in Federal Court for our client. Insurance claims for long term disability benefits under ERISA law take up much of the federal courts time, and on average, judges often decide in favor of the insurance company due to some restrictions on the level of the court's review. Therefore, winning the administrative appeal is our major effort. Once in Federal Court, the Rafel team focus is on strategizing success either through early mediation, settlement conferences and of course, taking the case through the judicial process to judgment on the client's behalf.

NJ disability lawyer Rafel has extensive experience dealing with Unum, Provident, Paul Revere, Equitable, Aetna, John Hancock, Reliance, Reliance Standard, Prudential Financial, DMS, Lincoln Financial, Liberty Mutual, Hartford, Northwestern Mutual, Guardian, Berkshire, MetLife, Cigna, LINA, Mass Mutual.

Consult an Experienced Disability Attorney in New Jersey

The Rafel firm has handled well over a thousand cases for the disabled. The disabled needs a voice, to be heard, understood, and respected. The Rafel firm is the "Voice of the Disabled" and works daily to ensure that its clients receive A+ services. We have found that with our decades of successful work, our client's financial investment for legal advice and counsel pays off, the burden of handling the claim on your own is lifted and you can focus on your health. We do not handle Social Security Disability claims.

We represent claimants nationwide, but focus our practice on clients in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Call us at 973-845-2600 to speak with one of our paralegals for a free intake. Contact us through our online form and we will contact you within 24 hours.

Meet the Attorney
Bonny G. Rafel, Esq.
Bonny Rafel

Bonny Rafel is an experienced disability attorney providing quality legal representation to people seeking disability benefits. She, along with her entire team, provides a personal hands-on approach focusing on obtaining disability benefits for her clients.

New Jersey Disability Lawyer Blog
Client Reviews
I was an Engineer in a Research and Development division of a major corporation, putting in longer hours with the same workload. An unrelated episode landed me in the hospital, where I was DXd with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, which explained my decline at work. I then learned that I had an employer policy that protected me from this type of a disability. Charlie
I would like to re-acknowledge what a difference your work has made in my life. When forced to retire 5 years ago, you dedication to helping me enroll into my disability policy has made all of the world of difference. George
I cannot thank you enough for successfully appealing my disability benefits. My special thanks also to Eileen for all of their assistance, support and expertise. Your legal expertise of disability benefit entitlement was evidenced by your comprehensive and knowledgeable litigation of my appeal. I read your appeal a number of times and each time I was impressed with your personal touch and special attention to the details of my case. I highly recommend you to colleagues, friends, and family who are in need of obtaining and keeping their disability benefits. I look forward to continued working with you over the next few years in maintaining my disability benefits. MaryJo
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