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Steps Nurses Must Know When Applying for Long-Term Disability Insurance

A long-term disability is when an insured, as a result of an injury or illness cannot perform the important duties of his or her regular occupation, or in some cases is unable to do any occupation by which they are trained, educated, or suited.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a devastating emerging risk in the medical field as healthcare professionals are contracting the virus. COVID-19 is highly contagious and despite progress, there is no vaccine yet. Impacted workers who have contracted the disease must now must stay away from the facilities and patients they are supposed to serve. Furthermore, the virus is understandably causing a jump in the number of long-term disability claims by health workers.

For example, nurses diagnosed with COVID-19 will be ordered into medical quarantine to protect themselves, their patients and co-workers. The nurse’s job requires onsite attendance, and her disability coverage could be triggered since he or she would be ordered to avoid the workplace.

There are some basic steps nurses must take before applying for long-term disability insurance, which we hope will help.

Establish The Types of Qualifying Disabilities

The first step is to identify the disabling injury or illness preventing you from performing professional duties. The Social Security Association (SSA) provides a list of disabling injuries and illnesses. Cardiovascular disabilities, cancer and neurological issues are just some of the conditions that might qualify for individual or group disability insurance.

Do not abandon hope if your illness or injury doesn’t immediately fall into one of the SSA categories. You may qualify for individual or group long-term disability insurance benefits, because your claim may depend on interpretation.

Understand Short-Term vs. Long-Term

The next step is to establish that your condition prevents you from working for an extended period. Furnishing a letter or confirmation from a treating doctor detailing the extent of your injury or sickness is critical. A severe injury or illness will likely constitute long-term disability, but check your policy or group certificate to verify the waiting, or elimination period before benefits kick in.

Short-term policies can provide benefits more quickly than long-term disability policies. Most short-term policies have at least a 7 day waiting period before you can receive disability benefits or there could be a 30, 60, 90 or 180 day period after an injury or sickness triggers coverage.

Long-term disability policies usually have a waiting period of 90 days, but waiting periods can typically last between 30 and 180 days.

Know Which Disability Insurance Policy You Have

A third step is to understand your short and long-term disability coverage. A policy typically falls into one of the following categories: Individual disability insurance, employer-sponsored disability insurance, and association disability insurance plans.

When it comes to individual or group-sponsored long-term disability insurance benefits, the definition of disability varies according to the terms and specific policy provisions or certificate.

Individual disability insurance: This is a private insurance policy you purchase from an agent or broker to protect yourself. It generally follows you throughout your life, and is unrelated to your employment status. If you pay your premiums, individual benefits will be sent to you tax-free. People who file as self-employed or independent contractors, and those who have financially planned well, likely have this type of policy. Individual policies usually protect you in your occupation and last to age 65 or normal retirement age.

Employer-sponsored disability insurance: Short and long-term disability insurance is often included as part of your employer’s employment benefits package, similar to your health insurance. It is linked to your job — meaning it is valid while you’re employed — and your employer will typically cover at least a portion of your disability insurance premiums so the benefits may be taxable.

Group disability insurance: These are association related sponsored plans provided through a union or professional organization. As long as you remain in good standing with the organization, you may qualify for short or long-term group disability insurance benefits. Group policies are also generally subject to restrictions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

When it comes to short and long-term disability, each situation is unique and will come with its own complexities. Claims related to COVID-19 are on the rise as well, since the virus is new and is impacting millions of people.

If you are a nurse, doctor or any other type of medical professional in need of guidance on a short or long-term disability insurance claim, please contact us immediately at DarrasLaw.

The award-winning individual and nationally renowned group long-term disability attorneys at DarrasLaw will always conduct a free disability policy analysis and free claim consultation to determine whether your individual, group or association related policy entitles you to short and/or long-term disability benefits. If you are suffering from any type of mental or physical injury or illness that prevents you from performing the important duties of your occupation, or any other occupation, call us today at (800) 898-7299 or contact us online.

DarrasLaw is Americas' most honored and decorated disability litigation firm in the country. Mr. Darras has seen more, evaluated more, litigated more, and resolved more individual and group long term disability and long-term care cases than any other lawyer in the United States.

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