Can I work if I'm getting long term disability benefits?

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Work and Long Term Disability Benefits

We fight insurance companies on behalf of people every day.  If you were denied long term disability benefits for your injury or medical condition, you know how difficult that process is.  Many long term disability insurance companies deny tons of people because they know that some people won't appeal at all.

It's an unfair strategy, but it works.

So once you are back getting benefits, is it OK to work?

Probably not.  Here's why:

Insurance companies will use any activity related to work, including volunteer work (for people who work with us, we have an entire interview and assessment process that analyzes and explains this for your specific situation) as a basis to deny or terminate your long term disability benefits - many times before you are fully recovered or ready to return to work full time.

What if you're receiving long term disability benefits and want to return to work?

First, you'll need to thoroughly review your long term disability insurance policy.

Most long term disability policies have 2 terms and conditions you should be familiar with: "own occupation" and "any occupation."  During the "own occupation" time period, you qualify for benefits if you cannot perform the primary duties of your own job.  But after a period of time (your specific policy will indicate this) you qualify for benefits only if you can't work in "any occupation."

There are a few other terms and conditions in your long term disability policy to identify and analyze:

  • How Total Disability and Partial Disability are defined
  • Offsets for "other income" which allow the insurance company to reduce your benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation programs and incentives to work

Working with your doctor is critical to your long term disability claim.

You need to constantly educate your doctors on this process - they are busy and don't have the time or expertise to analyze the specific terms, definitions, conditions and law that apply to your long term disability benefits.

If you think you can return to some type of work, discuss it with your doctor and have him examine you first.

  • Have your doctor thoroughly document any physical restrictions or limitations
  • If your doctor agrees you can try to return to work, have the doctor write a detailed report that documents the exam findings, restrictions and limitations you have and indicate that you are approved to attempt to try to return to work for a trial period.  If the trial period works, that is great, otherwise you can use it as evidence that you cannot work. 

Be honest with the long term disability insurance company.

It's important to provide the insurance company with the medical records that document you can return to work for a trial period and disclose any income you receive.

And be upfront with your employer about your physical limitations and restrictions as well.

We hope these tips help with a healthy, long term transition back to work - one that puts you in control.

Questions about your long term disability plan?

Before taking action, call to schedule a flat fee strategy session with us.  We'll review and analyze your policy and medical records and explain how the different terms, conditions and clauses impact your eligibility for benefits, and help you with a game plan so you can make the best decisions for you and your family.

Call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to get started.

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer