Post-COVID: To Work Or Not To Work
Our economy is in the throes of reopening after the COVID-induced shutdowns and restrictions. Much has been made of the resulting labor “shortage.” Deciding politically the cause is not a productive endeavor. But economics provide an indisputable answer. There is no shortage of people willing to work, there is simply a shortage of those who want to work for the wages being offered.
It is in economies and labor marketplaces such as this that many are also deciding whether to continue pushing or working through health issues – mental and physical illnesses, injuries, and conditions.
The cutbacks, restrictions, and modified work schedules or work duties imposed in response to COVID may have allowed some to hang on who would otherwise have chosen to stay home due to the pain, discomfort, or inability to do the tasks that they would normally do. But now that those are removed, and they are back at work full time or more, their challenges have been exacerbated. Is it worth it, especially when they may qualify for disability?
When people think of disability, they often think of the benefits provided by the Social Security Administration. And while that program provides a valuable safety net for the workers and former workers in our society, many workers are unaware (or don’t remember) that they have disability insurance provided through their employment, whose benefits may easily exceed those provided by Social Security.
In fact, many paid for this benefit (or part of it) with their hard-earned paycheck. Disability insurance often offers both long-term and short-term benefits. These are benefits to which the employee is entitled regardless of who paid for them.
When confronted with the prospect of going back to the job they had, potentially with increased demands, one must fully evaluate their options. However, if not done strategically and with full knowledge of the potential repercussions of their actions, they could unintentionally limit their options.
Qualifying for disability necessarily means that expert analyses of the worker’s ability to do their job (or a job) must be completed. It’s important to know what the standard for disability is within the policy before launching down the path toward that evaluation. The policy or perhaps even the summary of benefits may provide that definition. Then, engaging the right expert is important. Once the process is initiated, all medical or other records are potentially open for review, which could mean that consulting with the wrong expert simply provides ammunition that could later be used against the employee.
Often, we are engaged too late – after a worker has blindly sought the advice of the wrong experts, after submitting a disability claim before preparing the necessary record, and after a disability claim has been denied. While there is a lot we can do in those situations, our disability attorneys readily see how the ordeal could potentially have been avoided if someone had just consulted us earlier.
Don’t forget about these disability policies for your clients! Let us know if we can help.