You do not have to be permanently disabled to receive long term disability benefits. It is common for people to receive benefits until the policy expiration date or retirement; it is not a requirement that you be permanently out of work. Some people even have their medical condition improve enough where they can return to work.
When you are suffering from an illness or injury, you are required to use the rest of your short term disability benefits before applying for long term disability. Just like when you are unexpectedly involved in an accident or diagnosed with a severe illness, your recovery period can also be surprisingly long. Although you may want to return to work, you may not be able to quickly.
Here is an example: You are diagnosed with Hepatitis C and begin treatment, which the doctor says will only keep you out of work for up to 12 weeks. After your first treatment, you experience liver failure due to an unexpected complication and have to wait for a transplant. Or you are involved in an accident that requires extensive physical therapy.
Total Disability v. Permanent Disability
Although permanent disability is not required to receive benefits, total disability is. Total disability is when you will no longer be able to do any substantial work or return to the workforce.
How Long Do I Have to Be Disabled to Receive Long Term Disability Benefits?
You don’t have to be disabled for any specific length of time before you apply for long term disability benefits, but there is typically a 90 to 180 day waiting period to receive LTD payments.
Becoming disabled before retirement can be a scary thing. Most of us plan to work until at least retirement age. We expect to have our homes paid for, and children moved out by that time. But life is unpredictable, and sometimes people become disabled before retirement. It helps to understand how long it will take to start receiving benefits if approved for long term disability.
What is the Elimination Period?
Having a long term disability insurance claim approved is a significant first step towards receiving benefits. The next stage is waiting to receive payment. This is called the elimination period. The elimination period is the period of time that you must wait to receive your first check after your benefits are approved. Each policy is different but the elimination period will be stated in your policy. The standard is 90 days; however, some policies can be 180-365 days.
The Importance of Timelines
When you have become injured the best thing to do is file your claim as soon as possible. Many long term disability policies require you to exhaust your sick leave, and your short term disability benefits before applying for long term benefits. By creating a timeline, you can stay on track and know exactly when you need to apply for long term benefits. Keeping a calendar will also help you to understand when you have deadlines. If you miss a deadline, the insurance company will assume you do not need the benefits and will deny your claim. More importantly, if you miss a deadline, your claim may be forever closed with no possibility of reopening it. Filing for long term disability right away will help you avoid a long lapse in benefits.
Can I Still Receive Long Term Disability Benefits If I Go Back to Work?
The answer is yes and no. If you return to work, even on a part-time basis, you will probably no longer qualify for LTD benefits. You must review your long term disability insurance policy to determine whether part-time work or work in another capacity still qualifies you for benefits.
However, you could still receive benefits from the time that you were disabled and unable to work. If you lose your benefits and then discover that it’s too hard to continue to work, you will have to refile, which leaves you without monthly income.
Legal Representation in Long Term Disability Insurance Claims
Although based in Florida, the Ortiz Law Firm represents claimants across the United States. If your LTD claim has been wrongfully denied, delayed, or terminated and you’d like to speak to an experienced long term disability insurance attorney contact us at (866) 853-4512 to schedule a free consultation. We can help you evaluate your claim to determine if you will be able to access long term disability benefits and how to move forward with the process.