Some people who are receiving long-term disability (LTD) benefits from their insurance policy might want to return to work if they believe they are able to do so. However, it is important to realize that in many situations, your LTD benefits can be in jeopardy once you begin earning income again. It is important to have an experienced long-term disability attorney review your policy and your options before you make the decision to go back to work.
Each LTD policy has different terms, including different restrictions and allowances when it comes to working and earning income. The following are two different types of policies that are common.
This type of policy generally considers you to be “disabled” and eligible for benefits when your medical condition prevents you from performing the material and substantial job duties expected of your chosen occupation. For example, if your job requires heavy lifting or physical work, your medical condition might prevent you from continuing in that particular job, though you might be able to perform less physically demanding work.
If you have an “own occupation” policy, it might allow you to work outside your chosen profession and still receive LTD benefits, with some possible exceptions. If you are earning 80 percent or more of your pre-disability earnings in another occupation, you likely will become ineligible for continuing LTD benefits. If you have a professional license, your “own occupation” under the policy terms might include any work that requires that same license, even if it requires different work from your previous job duties. It is important to examine the exceptions to the “own occupation” rule in your policy before you begin a different type of work.
This type of LTD policy considers you to be disabled and eligible for benefits if your medical condition renders you unable to perform any type of occupation that would be suitable for you based on your education, experience, and training. Some disability policies might switch from “own occupation” to “any occupation” after 24 months or another specified time period.
Your eligibility for LTD benefits while returning to work under this type of policy will generally depend on how much you are earning. If you are only earning 20 percent or less of your previous income, you might be able to continue with your benefits uninterrupted. If you earn more, your benefit amount will likely be reduced. If your work pays 80 percent or more of what you previously earned, your benefits could be completely terminated.
Before you return to work while receiving LTD benefits, you want to first fully understand the terms of your policy. It might be wise to discuss your options – and how your benefits might be affected – with an experienced Philadelphia long-term disability attorney. If you believe your insurer wrongfully terminated your LTD benefits, you should contact The Garner Firm right away. Contact us about your concerns today.
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