Help with disability insurance claims

How to handle claims and ease employees’ return to work

  • Online claim submission
  • Fax: 800-255-6609
  • Mail: Principal Life Insurance Company
    Attn: Group Life & Disability Claims Department
    Des Moines, IA 50392-0002
  • Telephonic claim submission available upon employer request.

Hopefully, you and your employees don’t deal with disability claims very often. But when you do, you need the claim-filing process to be clear and easy.

These six videos walk you and your employees through what you need to know for each claim situation.

For you

For your employees

As the employer, you should:

  • Provide the employee (or family member) the claim form or your telephonic claim submission number.
  • Complete the first page of a paper claim form which includes pertinent employer information needed for the claim.
  • Help your employee understand the importance of providing the claim form to his/her physician as soon as possible as medical information is needed for the evaluation.
  • Keep communication lines open with employees while they are out. This helps them feel that they will be welcomed back once they recover.
  • Be open to temporary or flexible work arrangements while employees are recovering. A gradual (or part-time) return to work allows employees the ability to return to their job more quickly while easing back into their normal duties. Our Work Incentive benefit is an excellent vehicle to help this work for everyone.
  • Show concern and compassion while respecting the employee’s privacy. Keep the lines of communication open and avoid asking about specific private health matters. Feel free to talk about when they are coming back to work and if there are any schedule accommodations or special equipment needed for their return.
  • Discuss appropriate actions with your Principal Life’s claim examiner.

For STD, you should encourage the employee to file the claim as soon as you are aware that he or she will be off work beyond the elimination period. For LTD, we typically advise that the claim is filed no later than halfway through the LTD elimination period.

There are many advantages to filing a claim early. Early notification helps us to be proactive in obtaining additional information that may be needed to make the initial claim decision. It also assists us in making timely decisions. Once the claim is filed, a claim manager is assigned to the claim. The claim manager will be your point of contact for any claim questions that may arise.

There are four sections to the claim form: the HIPAA Authorization, the Employer Section, the Employee section and the Physician section. All four sections must be completed. Note: If you have both STD and LTD coverages with Principal Life, and you have already filed an STD claim for your employee, you do not need to file a separate claim form for the LTD coverage.

Once the claim is filed, a claim manager is assigned to the claim. The claim manager will be your point of contact for any claim questions that may arise.

Note: If you have both STD and LTD coverages with Principal Life, and you have already filed an STD claim for your employee, you do not need to file a separate claim form for the LTD coverage.

A new claim form is not required when moving from STD to LTD if you have an integrated disability program. Our goal is to provide integrated claim processing to streamline claim administration.

Some of the features of our integrated process include single notification of claims, one claim form, smooth and timely transitions from STD to LTD whenever possible, early intervention, and case management.

If the group has life coverage with us, we will also automatically review for waiver of life insurance premium benefit.

If the claim form is completed in its entirety, we can better evaluate the claim and may be less likely to need additional information from you.

If the insured employee completes the online claim form or the telephonic claim form, we will contact the employer to obtain additional information. The employer information must be provided by someone other than the claimant.

If your benefits are based on W-2 earnings and an employee has been employed for more than one calendar year, we ask that the employer provide a copy of the prior year’s W-2. For those employed less than one calendar year, we will need earnings for all completed months.

If the claim is filed for an owner, please make sure to specify this on the form, and we will contact you about what is needed for this situation.

For customers who have contributory coverage and are self-accounting groups, we will request a copy of your enrollment form. This form assists us in verifying that an employee enrolled for coverage on a timely basis. It also shows us what coverage the insured elected.

To be eligible for benefits, a person must meet the definition of disability according to the insurance policy. Objective documentation, such as physician’s office notes, treatment records, hospital records, or a physician statement, may be required. If we are waiting for information from an outside source, the decision time will depend on when the information is received.

No. The employee must meet the definition of disability, as defined by the policy. Medical information submitted must support the definition of disability and cannot be based simply on a physician’s opinion. Each claim is reviewed to determine if it meets the contractual requirements for benefit payment.

Our goal for making a decision on STD claims is 10 business days from the receipt of the claim. In circumstances where additional information is needed to make a decision, we will pend the claim until we receive it.

The claimant will be contacted with an acknowledgement letter within five business days of receipt of the LTD claim. A follow-up phone call will be made to conduct a phone interview to gather additional information. Our goal is to make the LTD decision by the later of 45 days from the receipt of the claim or by the completion of the elimination period.

We issue STD benefits on a weekly basis in arrears. For routine maternities and some routine surgeries, we offer a lump sum payout for the approved duration period.

Claims will have a payment day equal to the accrual day. For example, if the Elimination Period is satisfied on a Wednesday, then the payment is issued on Wednesday of the next week.

Principal Life offers two monthly LTD payments options:

  • Regular check: We will mail a check to the employee’s address on the benefit due date. LTD payments are made on the 10th of the month in arrears.

  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT): Employees can elect EFT, which allows us to transfer the employee’s LTD benefit to a bank account designated by the employee. When transferring funds, we will allow sufficient time for the funds to reach the employee’s account by the benefit due date.


If there is a “salary continuance offset” in the Other Income Source section of the policy, then the disability benefit is directly reduced by any salary continuance paid. This doesn’t allow the employer to supplement income with salary continuance.

If salary continuance is not included in the Other Income Source definition, then an employer can supplement the claimant’s income; however, the weekly payment limit will limit the individual from receiving more than 100% of their pre-disability earnings.

For insured businesses, we do not automatically withhold state or federal taxes; however, these can be withheld at the claimant’s request. FICA tax is withheld for 6 months from the date last worked. For ASO business-applicable states, federal and FICA tax are automatically withheld.

Log in to see our W-2 and FICA tax services for group disability benefits, which include:

  • A summary of your responsibilities as an employer, based on the services you have elected
  • Details on the tax services provided to you
  • The date by which you can elect new tax services
  • Contact information for any additional questions

When you hear "accommodations", you may think of permanent job changes, but that’s not necessarily the case. An accommodation can mean several things and isn’t always permanent.

Accommodations can include:

  • A reduced work schedule to allow the employee to return to work part-time, gradually increasing his or her hours to full-time over a specific time period. 
  • Flexible work schedules to allow someone to come in later or earlier, or to take longer midday breaks than the typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule allows. This can give an employee time for medical appointments, therapy appointments, or simply a resting period. 
  • Equipment/worksite modifications, such as desks, chairs, keyboards, foot stools, and adaptive computer software.
  • A remote work site, if an employee's job can be performed from home or an office that is closer to home, and a lengthy commute is problematic. Although transportation to and from work does not qualify for disability benefits, a shorter commute can help reduce or eliminate stress from an employee's recovery.
  • Job duty changes, if another employee can handle job duties that would allow the disabled employee to stay at work or return from disability earlier, or if specific tasks can be adapted, such as separating heavier items to be lifted into smaller, more manageable weights.

Examples of accommodations for office workers:

Limited sitting/standing restriction

  • Some possible accommodations for this restriction are ergonomic workstations, frequent breaks, and alternative work tasks to change positions more frequently.
  • Assistive devices for this restriction are sit/stand work stations, adjustable desk chair, stand-lean stool, and anti-fatigue matting.  

Limited walking

  • Possible accommodations for this restriction are using email and texting for communications, adjusting tasks in order to limit walking time, and assistive devices. 
  • Some assistive devices for this restriction are a phone or pager, scooters, walkers, wheelchairs, canes, and crutches. 

No repetitive hand use

  • Some possible accommodations for this restriction are ergonomic workstations, frequent breaks, and alternative work tasks to split up hand intensive duties. 
  • Assistive devices for this restriction are a headset for a phone, computer software for typing, typing aids, or variable/adjustable keyboards.

If you are looking for more information about ADA and accommodations check out the Job Accommodation Network.

We review each case early in the employee’s disability to identify options and assist in developing return-to-work programs. We use a variety of resources to promote high-quality, cost-effective results.

Job analysis and modification: We obtain a clear understanding of the job and evaluate possible modifications to facilitate a return to work.

Skills assessment: Our vocational resources evaluate the activities employees are able to proficiently perform, to help them determine transferability to another job or occupation. We also identify barriers they may need to overcome and point them to available resources in their area.

Job placement/outplacement services: If the employee isn't able to return to work for his/her employer in the same capacity, we provide a Career Transition Coach to assist them in returning to work. From resume writing to interview skills, we want them to be equipped as they prepare to return to the work force. We will help them to locate positions in their area and assist them through the application process. 

Are you an employee?
Don't see the topic you need help with? 

Give us a call.

  • Businesses with retirement plans call 877-475-3436
  • Businesses with group insurance products call 800-843-1371

Or send us an email