Healthcare Professionals, LTD Benefits and Employment Matters
Many healthcare professionals have called on Darraslaw with questions about the finer points of their long-term disability (LTD) policies and benefits. An injury or illness may keep them from performing their own occupation — one that they may have held for years—but they are still able to work jobs that are not as physically demanding.
So can you take another job while also collecting LTD benefits?
The answer depends on two key factors:
- How long you have been collecting LTD benefits.
- The terms and definitions detailed in your individual and/or group disability policy.
You can expect a denial if your policy says that your disability prevents you from performing the duties of “any occupation.” This means exactly what it says— you cannot work another job for pay or profit. Each individual and/or group employer’s policy may differ on this point, and much depends on the carrier’s definitions and a thorough review with your LTD disability lawyer. Sometimes we can argue where the policies are truly “occupation specific” that working doing something else won’t jeopardize or be a problem. When the policy says “any occupation” by which you are trained, educated or suited taking into consideration your education, training and experience, along with your “station in life” we can sometimes argue the other job doesn’t meet 60% of your “station in life.”
Let’s say you are a career emergency or operating room nurse. The work is physically and mentally demanding, and you may have developed a disabling condition that prevents you from working with a reasonable continuity and in the same way it is generally performed. However, you may already know that LTD benefits payments will not be enough to make ends meet.
If the language of your individual or group LTD insurance policy allows you to collect benefits when unable to perform your “regular” or “own” occupation, then it may allow you to work, earning money at another job. That new work and the position’s responsibilities should clearly demonstrate its differences; if your claim is that you cannot be on your feet for too long, maybe a sedentary occupation, such as a remote or desk job, or even one in the emerging field of telemedicine as opposed to a floor nurse where you are on your feet for a 12 hour shift.
Insurance companies’ views on sedentary occupations are also critical when assessing the limits of your individual or group LTD benefits. Sedentary occupations could be like the aforementioned ones, such as a unit clerk, desk nurse or at-home worker telemed nurse. These jobs can provide a chance to use your foundational knowledge and expertise in a different setting while still collecting “true own occupation” benefits.
The Social Security Administration defines sedentary work as one requiring lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools. Although a sedentary job is defined as one which involves sitting, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary in carrying out these job duties.
Even if your intentions are good and you are seeking additional employment to maintain standard of living, it is critical to understand the terms of your individual and/or group disability policy before seeking any additional work — even sedentary work — while collecting disability benefits. You could mistakenly misinterpret the terms of the policy depending on the job you seek or accept. Contact an experienced, long-term disability lawyer beforehand to ensure each step you take is correct.
When asked what can or can’t you do while disabled, the outcome will always differ because each person’s condition is unique. LTD benefits unfortunately don’t last forever. Their purpose is to keep you financially stable while you are injured or ill, so that you can recover and return to your full-time position in good health.
The award-winning individual and nationally renowned group long-term disability attorneys at DarrasLaw always offer free disability policy analysis and free claim consultations 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 (866) 276-3054 or contact us online.