A disability insurance policy can be an incredibly valuable part of your overall financial strategy. These types of policies cover both short and long-term disabilities that may limit your ability to work. With 61 million adults living with a disability in the United States, this type of coverage can be crucial in providing financial stability in the event that you cannot work due to a disability.
Many Americans receive their disability insurance coverage through their employers. While this is a valuable benefit, it can raise issues if your employer fires you and terminates your policy. In these situations, you may still be entitled to benefits under the terms of the policy — even if you are no longer working for a particular organization.
Obtaining disability benefits from your employer after you have been terminated can be challenging. A disability benefits lawyer can advocate for your right to receive benefits — even after you have been fired.
What Are Long-Term Disability Benefits?
Long-term disability (LTD) benefits are available through an insurance policy, which can be purchased individually or may be offered by your employer. LTD benefits provide payments to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. Depending on the terms of the policy, these payments may be as much as 50 to 60% of your monthly salary.
You can apply for LTD benefits after a waiting or elimination period, which is typically 6 months. The elimination period is the length of time that you must wait after becoming disabled before you can start receiving LTD benefits. The onset of your disability — and inability to work — is critical in determining when you are first eligible for LTD benefits.
When you apply for LTD benefits, the insurance company will look to see if your disability is covered under the terms of the policy and whether you are unable to work due to your disability. If your application for benefits is approved, you will receive benefits for a period of time that may range from 24 months or until retirement age.
Can You Get LTD Benefits If You Were Fired?
Even if your employer fired you and terminated your LTD coverage, you may still be able to receive benefits. The question of whether you are eligible depends on when your disability first started — not when you applied for benefits. In other words, as long as you were covered by the policy when you first became disabled, you may still qualify for benefits.
This concept may be confusing, but if you compare it to other types of insurance, it may make more sense. Consider this situation: you have renter’s insurance for your apartment, but cancel the policy as of March 31 because you have bought a house and will be covered under a new homeowner’s insurance policy. If your apartment is robbed on March 31, you can still file a claim under your renter’s insurance because the covered incident — the robbery — happened while the policy was still in effect.
In the same way, if you became disabled while your LTD policy was in effect, you may be eligible for benefits. The key here is to examine your policy to determine if you are considered disabled under its terms. While each policy is different, if you were unable to work due to your disability, you may be approved for benefits.
This situation often arises when a person is off work and receiving short-term disability benefits. The elimination period for short-term disability benefits may be as short as 7 days, so you may qualify for these benefits relatively quickly after becoming disabled. If your disability continues or is expected to last for longer than the benefit period for short-term disability (typically, 3 to 6 months), then you may consider applying for LTD benefits.
An employer may decide to terminate the employment of a person on short-term disability in anticipation of them being out for an extended period of time and/or filing for LTD benefits. Simply being on disability benefits does not protect you from being fired. However, federal and state law may affect whether your employer can legally terminate your position due to a disability.
Is It Legal to Fire a Person with a Disability?
There are a number of federal and state laws that govern an employer’s ability to fire an employee with a disability. If your employer terminates you based on your disability, their actions may be illegal under these laws.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers with 15 or more employees must provide accommodations for employees with disabilities. This includes offering accommodations for a person with a disability so that they can still work. For example, if you suffer from spinal cord disease, your employer may modify your job so that you can still perform it — such as by giving you a different schedule, allowing you to work from home, or eliminating the need to lift or carry objects.
Similarly, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. Under this law, it is illegal for an employer to fire or refuse to hire a person with a disability unless it can be clearly shown that their disability would prevent them from performing a particular job.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also entitles employees of covered businesses to take up to 12 weeks each year to handle personal or family medical issues. If you are on FMLA leave, your employer cannot legally fire you.
Even if you were lawfully terminated, you may still be eligible for LTD benefits under the terms of your policy. If you were disabled at the time that you were covered by the policy, a seasoned Cherry Hill disability benefits lawyer can help you apply for benefits.
Questions? Reach Out Today.
Employers may engage in a number of shady tactics to avoid having to keep an employee with a disability on the payroll — including firing that worker. In these situations, you may still be able to obtain long-term disability benefits if your disability began when you were still covered by the insurance policy.
Since 1995, Bross & Frankel has represented people with disabilities throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania as they seek benefits. We are highly skilled, with decades of combined experience in helping people get the benefits they deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free claim review, contact our office today at 856-795-8880, or online.
Rich Frankel is the managing partner of Bross & Frankel. He is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars. He has focused exclusively on disability and social security benefits since 2005.
Mr. Frankel joined what is now Bross & Frankel after having watched his father struggle with disability, fighting a lengthy illness. Mr. Frankel founded the firm’s veteran’s law practice and substantially grew the social security disability practice, focusing Bross & Frankel’s ability to fight for all of the disability benefits available to his clients.
Mr. Frankel additionally fights for clients in court, obtaining frequent victories in Social Security appeals and against insurance companies in Federal court.