Most of us need our jobs, especially in today’s uncertain economic times. Having to take time off from work because of an injury can seriously disrupt your life and cause you incredible stress or worry about how you will pay bills or take care of your family.
When should I apply?
Your employer might offer short-term or long-term disability plans. It is extremely important that you sign up for these during your initial enrollment period because you cannot be denied for a pre-existing condition.
If you did not sign up during your enrollment period, you can still sign up, but a pre-existing condition could potentially be used against you.
Short- and long-term disability are designed for workers who suffer a non–work-related injury. Short-term disability typically lasts between three and 26 weeks, but you should still apply for long-term disability as soon as you can, since there is typically a waiting period.
The long-term disability application process can be complex and require you to submit many documents. An attorney experienced with disability law could help you through the process, since incomplete information or missing a document could result in your claim being denied.
Are there different types of long-term disability?
Your long-term disability plan may refer to two different types of disability periods. One is called “own occupation.” You are paid long-term disability benefits during the own-occupation period if you cannot perform your specific job or a similar job.
The other disability period is called “any occupation.” This period begins after the own-occupation period ends, and you will only continue to receive benefits if you show that you cannot perform any job that you are, or will become, qualified for. This can be challenging to prove.
How much money will I get?
Long-term disability usually pays between 50 and 70% of your salary. It can be a tremendous benefit if your injury prevents you from working past the point where your short-term disability expires.
Your long-term disability plan might make you apply for Social Security Disability benefits at the same time you apply for your long-term disability. It is important to review the terms of your plan thoroughly and carefully and follow all instructions.