Most people looking to file for Short/Long term disability are worried about the right time to file and the right time to stop working.
Should you apply first and quit? Should you apply and still work? What if you can’t work but the employer is demanding you come back to work or else you will lose your job?
What to do?
Once you establish that you are disabled and unable to work anymore, the first and most important thing you need to do is NOT QUIT your job.
This is big!
If you quit or resign you WILL lose all your Short/Long term benefits. Even if you are disabled. Even if you paid for it for years. It doesn’t matter: If you quit or resign, your benefits are GONE and so are thousands of dollars with it.
So When Should You Apply If you Can’t Work Anymore?
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NOW! Apply immediately once you have made the decision that you cannot work anymore because of your disability. And DO NOT QUIT! (I know I sound like a broken record). If you can’t go to work and your employer is nagging you to come back to work or else they will fire you: LET THEM.
Getting fired after applying for disability happens and here’s why:
Employers can’t really fire people due to an illness (this may vary by jurisdiction). But eventually. a medical separation is required because you cannot perform your job anymore. It’s not their fault and it’s not your fault but that’s what insurance is for. It ensures the employer won’t get stuck paying for someone who can’t work anymore, and it ensures you are not on your own without some financial assurance. Nice, huh? (at least in theory. More on that in a future post).
There are certain steps to make sure you get benefits. But there are also things you have to make sure don’t happen that can hurt your ability to get those benefits. For example:
Do not sign anything that your employer wants you to sign without having an attorney look at the document. Even if it’s a medical separation or a generous severance. Most attorneys won’t even charge to look at them and if they do it’s worth every penny!
Either way, it’s a few hundred dollars cost to protect thousands of dollars that you could lose if you sign something you were not supposed to. There is nothing anyone can do to fix that once you signed that termination document. NOTHING!
What you want to make sure of is that your employer didn’t insert any sneaky language stating that you are voluntarily resigning and that all your rights to any claims (including LTD claims) are waived.
BE VERY CAREFUL!
Sometimes employers don’t even do it out of evil or that they are out there to “get you”. In most cases, these are cookie cutter forms from someone else and they use these forms without even reading them.
File Your Claim ASAP
File your claim as soon as you can. Or you risk being fired FOR CAUSE. Causes to be fired can be “under-performance”, “being late for work”, “lack of compliance”, among other examples.
Getting fired “for cause” will also sever your rights to benefits. It is a battle trying to fight an “improper termination”. You don’t need the extra work along with fighting for disability. File right away!
What If I Applied While Working?
You are trying to demonstrate that you absolutely cannot work. Your insurance company will not be convinced that you are disabled if you file while still working. They may think you are only looking to get some time off at their expense. I know, it’s strange.
It just makes no sense to apply and still work while waiting to get approved.
Whatever you do, don’t quit or resign. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand. File right away as soon as you decide you can’t work anymore.
That way you will ensure that you’ve covered all the bases. It also makes the process a little smoother. If by any chance you don’t get awarded benefits for some lame reason and you need to appeal the denial, at least you know you did everything right.
If you do get denied call an attorney right away. DO NOT APPEAL AN INSURANCE CLAIM YOURSELF!!!
You should consult an attorney about this subject matter in your jurisdiction.