Working when partially disabled: a warning

By Allan Checkoway


The quest to qualifying for benefits keeps most totally disabled employees focused on their claims being approved.

Below is a list of some important question for employees that become partially disabled to consider:

Can partial disability lead to termination of benefits?

Employees need to be aware of the following:
  • Under current laws, when you leave your job, you become eligible for continuation of your medical insurance coverage under COBRA for 18 months.

  • If your group long term disability plan (LTD) has a conversion option, you have one month to elect a conversion policy (if you're not covered by group LTD at a new job).

  • You have one month to convert your group life insurance.
And other questions arise:
  • If you are partially disabled, will your disability benefits be based on income either at your higher income prior to becoming disabled or at your lower income at the point of partial disability?

  • Will your group life insurance benefit (based on a formula of one times earnings) be based on one times earnings at the point of disability or one times your (lower) partial disability earnings?

  • Your group life insurance has a waiver of premium benefit if you're totally disabled and usually if you're under age 60. Are you over or under age 60?

  • How will premium be paid if you become partially disabled? Who pays the premium for your LTD if you remain partially disabled for an extended period of time?

  • Will you remain eligible for group life insurance if working less than 30 hours per week, when eligibility requires 30 hours per week of employment?

  • If your employer has an outside administrator handling COBRA administration, will they let you maintain your status/eligibility as an employee when partially disabled?
Unfortunately for those insured under group LTD plans, when their partial disability claim is approved, they don't realize their employer sponsored employee benefits can be impacted substantially, especially if their partial disability continues for an extended period of time. Due to the variance in benefit provisions with different insurers, we can't cover all the possible scenarios. Yet, we do want to alert you to the key issues and urge you to review your employee booklets.

*Please note: Both the ADA and FMLA potentially can "collide" when an employee becomes disabled. Does your employee booklet cover continuation of benefits when an employee becomes totally or partially disabled? Please double check.

*For further information, or to contact this author, please leave a comment and your e-mail address in the forum below.