Job loss through injury or illness? (off topic, a bit)

Subject: Job loss through injury or illness? (off topic, a bit)
From: Paul Strasser <paul -dot- strasser -at- WINDSOR-TECH -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 12:30:21 -0600

Rowena Hart wrote, in part:

>On the topic of job loss through injury/illness:
>
>I've noticed that the majority of off-list responses
>deal with medical insurance ... and the fact that
>employees often are not FULLY covered for long-
>term injury or disability under the insurance plan
>provided through/by their employer.
>
>To be honest, I've never read the fine print in my
>medical plan. One person noted that his plan
>only covered him until he could "return to work",
>and that meant ANY kind of work. Another person
>noted that the cost of additional disability insurance
>was prohibitive, possibly because job loss from
>disability is far more common (and more costly
>to insurance companies) than job loss from death.
>
>Other people noted that they did not lose their
>jobs because of injuries or illness, but they lost
>the confidence of their employer and got a reputation
>for being weak (fragile health) or undependable.
>
>Just thought I would bring this to the list, since these
>issues are (conspicuously) not being raised in full
>public view.
>
I used to set up benefits packages for professional corporations (MD's,
Lawyers, etc.) and a big topic among these folks was disability insurance.
They were more concerned about their DI plans than their life insurance.
This was in the 80's, and the disability insurance plans back then were far
better than those you can get now, both in price and benefits. CTS and
other work-related disabilities have hit many occupations hard. And thus
they have hit the insurance companies hard.

If you have a disability plan in force, either your own personal plan or an
employer-based Long Term Disability plan, the keys to look for are the
definition of disability, the waiting period, and whether there are any
partial or residual benefits.

Many disability policies have a definition of disability that reads
something like "unable to perform the important duties of any occupation for
which you are reasonably suited by education, training or experience," while
others (cheap ones) state "unable to perform the duties of any occupation."
The best policies have a "Your Occ" definition which states "unable to
perform the important duties of your occupation." In some policies, the
definition is more generous for the first couple of years of a disability,
then changes to a less generous definition. As you can imagine, which
definition your policy has can make the difference between getting benefits
and getting zip. Sometimes the complete definition of disability is in
different clauses. Like Rowena said, you have to do some digging.

In many cases a critical clause is a partial (or residual) disability
benefit. Recall the injuries or illnesses that were mentioned in this
thread -- most of the tech writers could still work (with a cast or
stitches), but on a reduced scale. It's clear that many injuries or
illnesses can limit your ability to work but not eliminate it entirely. If
your policy requires Total disability for any benefits you'd get nothing.

However, many policies (even the employer-sponsored LTD policies that might
be part of your benefits packages) contain partial benefits clauses. There
are a lot of people who become partially disabled and never realize that
they are covered. Granted, many of these partial disability benefits are
neither huge nor do they last for very long, but they are there. My advice
is to closely scrutinize your current disability plan for the definition of
disability and the presence of partial (or residual, which is almost but not
quite the same thing) benefits. (BTW, additional advice is to dump a lot of
the "cancer insurance" or "accidental death & dismemberment" policies and
improve the disability insurance as much as you can).

hey, I SAID it was off-topic...

Paul Strasser
Windsor Technologies
Louisville, CO

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