Can I Work If I’m Getting Long Term Disability Benefits?
If you are receiving long-term disability benefits and you decide to try to work, your disability claim could be in jeopardy. Your long-term disability insurance company IS NOT YOUR FRIEND! In fact, your disability insurance company will use just about anything it can to deny your claim or terminate your benefits. The insurance company’s primary goal is to make money. They will do whatever is necessary, even if that means denying your claim, to make sure they achieve their goal.
Review Your Long Term Disability Policy
Before you make a decision about whether to go back to work while you’re on long-term disability, you should CAREFULLY REVIEW your long-term disability insurance policy. The language in your policy will probably address what happens if/when you return to work.
Long Term Disability: “Own Occupation” Period
Almost all long-term disability policies define two time periods of disability. You should check your policy CAREFULLY to determine whether these time periods apply to you. The first time period we see in long-term disability policies is the “own occupation” period. This period of time usually occurs within the first 24 months of your disability coverage period and basically means that you can qualify for benefits because you can’t do the tasks that are required by your own job.
Long Term Disability: “Any Occupation” Period
After the first 24 months is up, some policies require that you be unable to do “any occupation” to continue to receive benefits. This means that if your disability insurance company thinks that there are any jobs you can do, it can (and likely will) try to cut off your benefits.
Important Things To Look For
Here are a couple of things you should look for in your policy if you are thinking about going back to work while on long-term disability:
- Some insurance policies will have policy language that talks about “other income.” This language is usually put in the policy so the insurance company can pay you less if you are getting income from other sources
- Your disability company’s definition of “partial disability.” Sometimes disability insurance companies will include policy language discussing how it handles a “partial disability” versus “total disability.” If you return to work, you may fall under any “partial disability” provisions your insurance company might have. EVERY INSURANCE POLICY IS DIFFERENT! You will want to read your policy carefully to determine how your company handles a partial disability and which provisions apply to your specific situation.
- Check out your policy to see if your company offers any incentives to work or to attend a rehabilitation program. Sometimes, policies with such provisions can mean more money for you!
Keep Your Doctor Informed
If you give going back to work a try, you really need to talk to your doctor so he or she can fully document your capabilities and work restrictions. You will also want to ask your doctor to document in your medical records that you’ve been approved for a “trial” period of work. This way, if the trial is not successful and you’re not able to continue working, your doctor will have your experience completely documented.
What if I can’t understand my long term disability policy?
Disability insurance policies are difficult to understand. But, we can help. Give us a call and we’ll review your policy, explaining the policy’s clauses and how working might affect your benefits.
An attorney who is experienced in handling ERISA insurance disability cases can be instrumental in helping you to get your short-term and/or long-term disability benefits. Having an experienced ERISA disability lawyer on your side can help you with these important aspects of your case:
- Determine whether your employer or insurance company is responsible for paying the claim;
- Look for weaknesses in any denial from the insurance company;
- Ensure that all the duties of your job are accurately listed; and,
- Prepare your claim file knowing that this is your only shot at building your claim file before it is evaluated by a judge.
What Makes Ritchie Law Firm Different?
Many Virginia lawyers say they practice Social Security Disability law. But, most of those lawyers don’t work with long-term disability or short-term disability insurance claims. Before you hire any lawyer to handle your long-term or short-term disability claim, you should ask if he or she has been trained in handling or has handled ERISA claims before. If that attorney can’t answer yes, he or she is probably not the right lawyer for you.
That’s what makes us different. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we have a team of lawyers who have been trained to handle the complexities of long-term and short-term disability cases. Sure, we also handle Social Security Disability cases. But, ERISA long-term and short-term disability cases are a different beast. And, we know how to handle them.
If you have been denied long-term disability benefits, our disability team will review your denial letter for FREE. Then, with no obligation and NO STRINGS ATTACHED, we’ll tell you our game plan for winning your case.
If you want your long-term or short-term disability case handled by a team of lawyers trained to handle this difficult area of the law that few lawyers know the first thing about, your search is over. Whatever stage of applying for benefits you are in, whether you haven’t yet applied or you’ve been denied, we are happy to help. We can even help if you live in states other than Virginia or West Virginia by associating with counsel local to the jurisdiction where you live.
We can help with denials from both ERISA and non-ERISA (private) disability plans. Click here to give us some details about your case.
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