Can I Take a Vacation While on Disability?
If you suffer a disabling sickness or injury that prevents you from working, you may have the right to receive disability insurance benefits to help you cover your needs and expenses while not receiving a paycheck.
People often ask, does receiving disability payments mean you have to stay home, doing nothing until you heal enough to return to the workforce (assuming that’s possible)? Does being disabled mean you can’t take a vacation?
The short answer is no. Receiving disability does not amount to a sentence of home confinement. You can and should still enjoy your life as much as possible, and that includes taking a vacation.
However, stay mindful of any limitations that your long-term disability (LTD) insurance policy, and your doctor, set on your activities. It is possible to put your LTD benefits at risk if you don’t follow that guidance.
LTD Policy Limitations
Many people who receive long-term disability benefits and cannot work can still go about their daily lives. While their disabilities may limit their capabilities in some respects, they may still be able to travel without putting their health at serious risk.
Before planning or heading out on a vacation, however, always review the terms of your long-term disability insurance policy. A policy may contain restrictions on a covered person’s ability to travel for 12 months or more out of the country.
While your disability insurance policy won’t restrict you from engaging in certain potentially risky activities on a vacation—like scuba diving or paragliding, you can count on your disability insurer to scour social media looking for pictures or film of you engaging in activities inconsistent with your doctor or therapists, restrictions and limitations.
Not sure whether or how your LTD limits your vacation planning or activities? An experienced long-term disability claim attorney can help by reviewing your policy and ensuring your plans comply with its terms. In some cases, your lawyer may also remind you about bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, sitting, standing and walking restrictions that your trip or your family has planned are in fact, too much.
Follow any limitations on your activities recommended by your doctor or necessitated by your medical treatment or therapists plans. For example, you may need to avoid certain risk factors or environments, stay within a certain distance of a medical facility, or avoid activities that could worsen or exacerbate your mental or physical conditions.
While on disability, always speak with your doctor before making any vacation plans, to make sure what you have in mind for relaxation will also keep you on the path to healthy living. Remember, disability can strike at any time so keeping vacation plans, so you won’t be left home alone are acceptable.
Taking this extra precaution will also protect you against your LTD carrier denying or limiting your benefits based on your failure to follow medical advice for your condition.
Beware of the Insurance Company’s Delay or Denial Tactics
One of the ways your LTD insurance company minds its bottom line is to monitor your compliance with policy terms after you start receiving disability benefits.
Stay off Social Media
We understand that people post vacation pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Unfortunately, so do disability insurance carriers. Believe it or not, they vigilantly monitor social media for evidence they can use to deny or cut off disability payments.
So, when you go on vacation while collecting disability, do yourself a favor and stay off social media altogether. It’s just not worth the risk that the picture you post will get misinterpreted and used against you to cut off your benefits.
Of course, even if you avoid social media while on vacation, you can’t always control what your friends and family might post. If your LTD carrier starts giving you a hard time about images of you that appeared on social media, suggesting that you shouldn’t receive benefits, a skilled disability insurance claims attorney can defend your right to continue receiving the benefits you need.
Stick to Your Treating Doctor’s Orders
You also want to make sure that you stay healthy while vacationing on disability. Do not ignore your doctor’s orders to avoid certain activities or to take necessary steps to protect your health. If that means you can’t take a bike or ride on a boat, so be it. Your health is more important.
Also, as we mentioned above, ignoring doctor’s orders could also put your benefits at risk. LTD carriers will not hesitate to challenge your benefits if they find out you have put your health at risk, or engaged in activities that undermine your disability restrictions and limitations.
Be Safe and Smart
Above all, use logic and reason. If the sickness or injuries that prevent you from working require that you get off your feet and rest for most of the day, do not plan a vacation where you need to move around a lot. Instead, maybe this is the year to stay home where you can be safe from videotapers and COVID-19.
Get the Long-Term Disability Help You Need
Receiving long-term disability insurance payments does not mean you need to become a hermit. You can still vacation and try to manage your life. You just need to be smart about how you plan and take your vacation by taking into account the impact your choices for vacation locales and activities can have on your health and your rights under the terms of your insurance policy. By making the right decisions and planning properly, you can still take a vacation that also protects your benefits payments.
If you don’t know whether and how your long-term disability insurance policy affects your ability to take a vacation, or if your LTD insurance company wants to deny, reduce, or stop paying your benefits because of a vacation you took, you need an aggressive long-term disability benefits lawyer to protect your rights. Contact an experienced long-term disability insurance law firm to learn about your options so that you do not have to worry about taking the vacation you pre-paid and deserve.