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What Happens When An Employee Goes On Long-Term-Disability?

Long-term disability is an insurance policy that some employers offer as an employment benefit to their workers, or a person can purchase it on their own directly from an insurance company. When an employee goes on long-term disability, they receive a portion of their weekly pay from the insurance company. How much they receive, how long they receive it, and other conditions are contained in the terms of the insurance policy or employer-provided plan.

As a general rule, when you go on long-term disability, the illness or injury causing your disability cannot be work-related. A workplace accident or illness would be covered through workers’ compensation and not through a long-term disability plan or policy.

Another thing to know about long-term disability is that it provides you with wage replacement, but it generally does not protect you from losing your job. However, your job may be protected under federal or state law under certain circumstances.

The material that follows gives you an overview of how long-term disability works when an employee cannot work for an extended time. It also looks at issues of critical importance to you as a worker, including job security while on disability. Always keep in mind that a disability advocate at London Disability has answers to any questions or concerns that you may have about long-term disability and can help protect your legal rights.

What is long-term disability?

Long- and short-term disability plans are insurance policies that offer workers who are injured or sick and unable to work income protection according to the policy terms. Short-term plans typically provide benefits for a maximum of 12 months. Long-term plans pay benefits for longer periods from two years to retirement depending on the policy limits.

What it means to be disabled depends on the conditions set by the policy in effect through your employer or that you purchased on your own. Unlike the Social Security Administration only pays disability benefits for total and permanent disability, some disability insurance policies only require that you be unable to perform the activities required to do your specific job. Other policies accept a claim for physical or mental impairments that limit you from doing normal daily activities.

You need to understand the terms and conditions of your long-term disability plan or policy to know the coverage limits. For example, some plans pay benefits as long as you cannot work at your current job, but other plans only pay benefits if you cannot do any type of work. That’s why you should talk to the disability advocates at London Disability to find out the extent and limits of the disability benefits payable through your particular long-term plan.

What happens when you file a claim for long-term disability?

Long-term disability policies pay a weekly wage-replacement benefit that is a percentage of your regular earnings. The amount you get depends on the terms of the policy. A typical income replacement might be 60% of your normal pay, but you should ask about the limits of your particular plan.

If the insurance company determines that you are disabled and unable to work according to the terms of the policy, it will begin paying you benefits. However, the benefits may not start immediately after approval of the claim. Policies have an elimination or waiting period before payments start. The typical elimination period is 90 days, but you need to check your plan or policy to know what it will be when you file a claim. Longer elimination periods reduce the cost of the disability insurance policy.

Job protection while on long-term disability

Neither short-term nor long-term disability plans and policies protect your job. They provide income protection when you cannot work, but they do not guarantee that you have a job to return to once you recover and want to return to work. The following federal laws may protect you your right to return to work:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The FMLA lets an employee take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to deal with their own medical issues or to care for a family member. If your employer has at least 50 employees and meets other conditions of the act, you may be protected under the FMLA from the loss of your job as long as you do not exceed 12 weeks of leave.

The ADA limits the ability of employers to fire workers who are disabled. The ADA is a complicated law, so speaking with a disability advocate is the best way to determine if you qualify for protection against loss of your job while on long-term disability.

Get help with long-term disability

When a physical or mental impairment prevents you from working, long-term disability may be an option available to you for income protection. Learn more about it and other disability benefits options, including Social Security disability, from a disability advocate at London Disability. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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