Software Engineers and Long Term Disability Insurance Benefits

The Challenges Software Engineers Face When Filing For Long Term Disability

A software engineer is a computer science professional who uses knowledge of engineering principles and programming for projects such as: building software products; designing, developing, and installing software solutions; developing computer games; and running network control systems.

In this article, we will explore the following:

  • Why It’s So Difficult To File For Disability As A Software Engineer
  • How to Create A Winning Claim

Why Is It Challenging to File LTD For a Software Engineer

Software Engineers have a lot of duties and responsibilities. Here is a short list of just some of the duties and responsibilities of a software engineer:

  • Determining operational feasibility by evaluating analysis, problem definition, requirements, solution development, and proposed solutions;
  • Documenting and demonstrating software solutions by developing documentation, flowcharts, layouts, diagrams, charts, code comments and clear code.
  • Preparing and installing solutions by determining and designing system specifications, standards, and programming.
  • Improving operations by conducting systems analysis; recommending changes in policies and procedures.
  • Obtaining and licensing software by obtaining required information from vendors; recommending purchases; testing and approving products.
  • Updating job knowledge by studying state-of-the-art development tools, programming techniques, and computing equipment; participating in educational opportunities; reading professional publications; maintaining personal networks; participating in professional organizations.
  • Protecting operations by keeping information confidential.
  • Providing information by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing development and service issues.
  • Accomplishing engineering and organization mission by completing related results as needed.
  • Developing software solutions by studying information needs; conferring with users; studying systems flow, data usage, and work processes; investigating problem areas; following the software development lifecycle.

Depending on the company, sample Software Engineer skills, requirements and qualifications may include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college in computer science.
  • Work experience as a software engineer or in related field.
  • Ability to analyze existing tools and databases and provide software solution recommendations.
  • Ability to translate business requirements into non-technical, lay terms.
  • High-level written and verbal communication skills.
  • Analyzing Information.
  • General Programming Skills.
  • Software Design
  • Software Debugging.
  • Software Documentation.
  • Software Testing.
  • Problem Solving.
  • Software Development Fundamentals.
  • Software Development Process.
  • Software Requirements.

In short, here is a list of the top 10 skills a software engineer may require in his or her job:

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Coordinating with others
  4. Judgment and decision-making
  5. Cognitive flexibility
  6. Understanding objectives
  7. Good verbal communication skills
  8. Problem solving
  9. Be a good listener
  10. Excellent time management

Software engineers are well-compensated for the high level of skill it requires to do their job.

If a software engineer becomes disabled and files a long term disability claim, he or she will have a hard time getting approved.

Why? Because the insurance company is looking at the case from a financial standpoint. The insurance company is looking at how much money it will cost the company to provide a software engineer with benefits throughout the illness or disability. The longer it could potentially take the Software Engineer to return to work, the more scrutiny the Software Engineer will face in the claims process.

Tips for a Successful Claim

Tip #1 Gather Strong Medical Evidence

Medical paperwork is the foundation of any long term disability claim. Collect all the medical evidence from your doctors that are treating your disability. Be sure that your doctors are noting your pain levels and cognitive difficulties on your chart. This is not always a common practice, but you will need detailed documentation for your claim.

For example, let’s assume a claimant has a significant back injury (such as herniated disks) and the claimant cannot sit, stand, or even walk for very long. The most comfortable position is for the claimant to lie down for 50% of the day to alleviate pain. There are not many jobs that will accommodate the need to lie down for half of the day. So the claimant will want to make sure there is good “objective medical evidence” to support the subjective complaints of pain. Objective evidence may include MRIs, X-Rays, etc.

Tip #2 Anticipate Surveillance

A large monetary claim – like one for a software engineer – will likely call for video surveillance. Surveillance is completely legal. During the surveillance period, a private investigator will stake out the claimant’s house, talk to nearby neighbors about the claimant’s daily activities, and then try to use that information against the claimant in the administrative decision (or in court); This is why it is crucial to not rush back into exercise routines or anything else that is very strenuous on the body during the claim period.

Tip #3 Stay Off Of Social Media

In our article here, we discuss the likelihood that social media accounts will be monitored. As a busy software engineer, you probably do not have much spare time for social media. However, when you are at home with nothing to do but rest, you may be tempted to start an account on a social media platform such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or SnapChat. We suggest staying off social media entirely during the claim period. The insurance investigator will try to use posts to social media accounts to deny your claim.

Tip #4 Do Not Try to Go Back to Work Too Fast

The amount of time spent recovering from a disability can be very dull and feel unproductive to a software engineer. The change from a very active schedule to weeks (and perhaps months or even years) of rest can feel like a prison sentence. Software engineers must resist the urge to go back to work too early. When a software engineer pushes himself or herself back into work before his or her body is ready physically and mentally, the Software Engineer is in danger of making a mistake that could cause more harm.

Tip #5 Do Not Forget Cognitive Problems

An individual suffers from “cognitive impairment” when his or her ability to think and process information is reduced (for any reason).  Examples include when the individual has difficulty with basic cognitive functions, such as memory processing, perception, problem solving and language.  The symptoms of cognitive impairment may vary wildly from person to person; however, common symptoms include short-term memory loss and/or long-term memory loss; difficulty with planning, organizing and problem solving; confusion; an inability to handle stress appropriately; problems with managing time; and difficulty managing, influencing, and communicating with others.  Cognitive impairment can even result in physical manifestations, such as by causing poor motor coordination.

Cognitive impairment can arise from a number of severe and disabling medical conditions such as delirium, dementia, amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or ‎Huntington’s disease.  Cognitive impairments can also manifest as the result of other medical problems/diagnoses, including a stroke, heart disease, a brain injury, major depression, an anxiety disorder, insomnia, high blood pressure, chronic migraine headaches, lupus, Raynaud’s phenomenon and fibromyalgia. This list of causes is not exhaustive. There may be other diagnoses that cause cognitive problems.

While the language of every short-term and long-term disability policy is different, you are typically entitled to disability insurance benefits if you are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your own occupation or any gainful occupation for which you are qualified by education, training and experience.

It seems obvious that when a software engineer suffers from cognitive impairment, whatever the cause, he or she would have difficulty performing the material and substantial duties of a software engineer.  However, insurance companies do not always pay benefits, even when their liability seems obvious.  Too often, the attorneys at the Ortiz Law Firm have seen insurance companies/ERISA administrator’s assert that an insured has the “functional capacity” to return to work even if they are suffering from conditions such as cognitive impairment.

Note: An insurance company may require the claimant to sit for an “independent” neuropsychological examination. Keep in mind that this exam is conducted by a medical professional the insurance company hand-picked and the insurance company is footing the bill.  As you can well imagine, the paid neurophysiologist often prepares a biased report concluding that the claimant has the residual ability to return to work, regardless of the limiting cognitive impairments from which they suffer. The Ortiz Law Firm has significant experience assisting claimants in this situation, and has been successful in convincing insurance companies to reverse their denial decisions, even when that decision was initially supported by the results of an unfavorable neuropsychological examination.

In Conclusion

Software Engineers will find it challenging to get a long term disability claim approved. The insurance company will search for virtually any reason to deny the claim. By providing strong medical evidence, keeping a low profile, and not rushing back to work too soon, a software engineer can create a solid case for disability.

Using an experienced disability attorney will help you protect yourself against insurance investigators. The Ortiz Law Firm is based in Florida but represents claimants across the country. Receive a free consultation by calling 850-308-7833 with no obligation. 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.