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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default How to Properly Apply for Short-Term or Long-Term Disability

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of:


    Hello Everyone:

    I have a bit of a complex question. First, I'll give some background. 7 years ago, I contracted an autoimmune disease that ended up with my liver being in stage 2/3 liver cirrhosis. Stage 3 is considered end-stage. Stage 4 is hepatic coma and death. Since that time, I've continued to work. For the first several years, I worked at an office. For the past 4 years or so, I've worked from home. It now appears like I might have another autoimmune disease - graves disease. This one, I'm not sure I can continue to work with - even from home. So, I'm considering going on STD/LTD.

    For a note, my performance and attendance at the company has been basically perfect. I don't want my condition to change that and affect my options going forward.

    I have STD/LTD and health insurance through my work. I've worked for this employer (based in Colorado) from Utah, and currently from Washington State - though I'm considering relocating to California to see if the warmer/dryer less rainy climate helps.

    For STD/LTD, the company pays 100% of STD and 40% of my income as LTD - and I opted to pay an additional 20% LTD myself. It appears like if I do go on STD/LTD, my benefits will be tax free. I see this note in our benefits package

    "Company pays the STD/LTD plan premium. The amount of the premiums will be added to your taxable income on the first paycheck of each month. By doing this, STD and LTD benefits you receive will not be considered taxable income should you have to utilize the disability benefits."

    To further complicate things, my company is being bought out by another company - deal should close in a few months. And I have stock options.

    My questions:
    1. Will my STD/LTD benefits terminate if the company were to dissolve?
    2. I am guessing my health insurance would terminate after a certain period of time? If that is the case, would my STD/LTD benefits affect my ability to be covered by the Affordable Care Act?

    This seems to indicate it would not:

    3. Is the state in which I reside a big factor in how this could play out? I almost see a move to California (a more liberal state) as a good option since I'm guessing they have more laws which might benefit or protect me.
    4. How sick do you really have to be in order to get STD/LTD? I honestly think I'm pretty bad. Liver cirrhosis, graves disease, and a BMI of 15, or less - which translates to 5'11'' and just over 100 pounds. I think I have a bit of a fighting chance if I take it really easy, but to work full time and the overtime at my company is killing me - literally. I think it was stress and overwork that introduced graves disease to this whole equation.
    5. I have life insurance through my work - and pay for extra over the guaranteed amount. I basically buy the maximum amount which is 5x your salary. Does this insurance policy continue after my company might terminate my position, since I've already been approved for the nearly 5x my salary?
    6. Any recommendations on how I would approach this with my employer? Is there something I could work out with them so they don't terminate my position? Like remove any financial burden from them that would result from me going on STD/LTD - perhaps me pay them for whatever premiums they pay currently.

    Any other things I need to know? I'm trying to get as prepared as I can so if it should come to requiring disability.

    Many thanks,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Default Re: How to Properly Applye for Short-Term or Long-Term Disability

    1.) No way to say for sure. It will depend on the terms of the sale.
    2.) Again, it would depend on the terms of the sale and to a point your employer's policies. But no, your disability benefits have no relationship to your health insurance, whether it be through your employer, COBRA or the Federal/state health exchanges.
    3.) Not really. Not where you already have the policy in place. It might if you were trying to buy STD/LTD insurance, but since you're already covered the state is more or less immaterial. What you do not want to be doing is changing disability policies at this point in time. Unlike health insurance (or, I should say, unlike what health insurance will be in another 16 days) disability carriers have the right the decline coverage to people who already have a disabling condition and you do not want to risk the coverage you've already got.
    4.) You have to meet definition of disabled according to the policy itself.
    5.) See the answer to #1. There are few if laws about the continuation of benefits when a company closes/is bought, other than retirement plans. Your existing plans may continue; the new owner may bring you onto their existing plans; they might merge the two sets of plans; they might get new plans altogether. No possible way for us to say.
    6.) That's not how it works. Sooner or later your position IS going to terminate. Your employer cannot afford to keep you on the payroll indefinitely if you are unable to work. What you want to do is be sure that you apply for STD BEFORE your job ends and BEFORE your company is sold. In the overwhelming majority of cases (as in, I've been in HR for 35 years and I've never once seen it not happen this way), if your STD benefits are approved prior to a job/company ending, they continue even after the job/company terms. You would roll over into LTD benefits automatically as long as you qualify for both definitions - what matters is that you were employed/covered on the day your disability began, not that you were employed on the day your LTD waiting period is up.

    When you apply for your disability benefits, you will need to fill out one part of the application; your employer another; and your doctor a third. Talk to your doctor and if he agrees, apply for benefits. That is the best protection you are going to get. It won't be forever, but it will be long enough to get your disability claim in place. Do not wait for the new administration.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Somewhere near Canada

    Default Re: How to Properly Applye for Short-Term or Long-Term Disability

    Well, let's start at the beginning and go from there.

    What's the nature of the liver disease?

    (Yes, I'm going in particular direction here)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default Re: How to Properly Applye for Short-Term or Long-Term Disability

    Quote Quoting Dogmatique
    View Post
    Well, let's start at the beginning and go from there.

    What's the nature of the liver disease?

    (Yes, I'm going in particular direction here)
    Thanks. It's autoimmune hepatitis. Cause unknown. Just where the body attacks the liver.

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