Returning to Work after LTD: What if I’m Not Ready?
For most people who are receiving LTD benefits, there comes a time when they’ll be asked to start thinking about returning to work. This can be a tough thing to even contemplate when your life has been dominated by disability. Even if you miss working and want to get back to normal, your health may not allow for that just yet.
Because LTD is an income replacement benefit – it replaces part of the earnings you’d make from employment – it’s in the insurer’s interests to get you back to work and off of benefits as soon as possible. But what happens when you are really not ready to ease back into work, despite what the insurer says? Or your employer is pressuring you to come back to your position?
First, remember that your doctor’s okay is essential for you to return to work. It’s not up to the insurer or your employer. The last thing you want is to aggravate your injury or compromise your recovery by doing too much, too soon.
If you and your doctor agree that you shouldn’t get back to work yet, then you have a strong case for why the insurer must continue paying your benefits.
You’ll need to provide objective medical evidence to show why. What impairments (i.e., physical or mental conditions) or functional limitations (e.g., difficulty lifting or doing stairs, etc.) do you have? The key is to focus on how your injury or illness affects your ability to do your job’s tasks.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for LTD recipients to feel pressure from the insurer or their employer about returning to work. Please remember that as long as you meet the policy’s definition of disabled, the insurer must pay you benefits. You cannot be fired, either, for refusing to return to work while you are disabled.
You do have a responsibility to respond to communication from your insurer and employer about returning to work. You will probably be asked to participate in discussions like this before you are feeling ready. If this happens, try to remain calm and convey your concerns clearly, state the lack of support from your doctor, and put it in writing if possible.
If you’ve been given a return-to-work deadline that you cannot meet, or notice that your benefits will end despite you still being disabled, it would be wise to seek assistance from a disability insurance lawyer.