Whether they love your job or dream of being on a beach in Hawaii, few people ever imagine that they will ever be unable to work because they are disabled. When looking at the benefits offered by an employer, their eyes probably slide right on past short-term and long-term disability. Nevertheless, these are important benefits that millions of Americans will need to rely on—maybe even you one day.
According to statistics kept by the Social Security Administration about 56 million Americans are currently disabled, which works out to 1 in 5, or 20%. Of these, about half live with severe disabilities.
Wrong. Actually, a 20-year-old has a 1 in 4 chance of becoming disabled before they reach retirement age. Disability can result from accidents, serious illnesses like cancer, and mental illness. However, according to Forbes, less serious disorders like sciatica and arthritis are also leading causes of disability. In truth, almost anyone can become disabled and be unable to continue working.
When workers become disabled before retirement, they will struggle to pay for necessities such as housing, food, and medical care. Some will need to move in with families while others might clean out their entire savings to provide for basic necessities.
To help the disabled support themselves, Social Security offers disability benefits to those who have earned enough work credits. However, these benefits are modest. In 2015, the average monthly disability benefit was $1,165 which only barely kept recipients above the federal poverty level.
Employers can also offer short-term or long-term disability benefits. Short-term disability benefits will replace a percentage of your salary for a limited amount of time, whereas long-term benefits will make payments until you reach retirement age (or age 65).
Unfortunately, not all employers offer these benefits to their employees. And even when short- or long-term disability is offered, only about 40% of employees take advantage and sign up.
Let’s say you were careful and purchased long-term disability. Should the unimaginable occur and you need to tap your benefits, it’s easy, right?
Again: wrong. Although insurance companies are happy to accept your premium payments, they are less excited to actually pay you benefits when you are injured. Many injured workers are denied benefits for various reasons, such as:
In some cases, you can easily bring an appeal and receive benefits by submitting additional evidence, such as medical records or lab tests. However, in other situations, an insurance company wants to play hardball and will do everything in its power to keep from paying you the benefits you deserve.
Disability denials come at inopportune times for injured workers. At the Law Offices of Michael Bartolic, our clients are worried about the future and wonder how they will continue to pay their bills. If your benefits claim was wrongly denied, help is available. To schedule a free consultation, please reach out to us today.