A disability is a medical condition which prevents an individual from working for a certain period of time. Disabilities include medical conditions which typically include certain injuries and illnesses.
A disability is an important consideration for employers and employees alike. For an employee, being on disability means that the individual may not be earning an income during the time period in which they are not working.
In order to counteract this loss of income, an employee may apply for disability benefits that are provided by their employer or by the state in which they work. Employees can also apply for disability insurance from a provider other than their employer.
Depending on the condition which causes an individual’s disability, their insurance or benefits may cover a portion or all of their lost income and other medical expenses. Insurance coverage will usually be based on the income the individual made in the past year.
Employers always have to factor in disability issues when dealing with their employees. If one of their employees is incapacitated or injured, especially while they are on the job, an employer can be required to find provisions to compensate the employee while they are out of work.
What is a Short-Term Disability?
In the context of employment, disabilities are usually divided into the categories of short-term and long-term. A short-term disability is a type of disability which is temporary in nature.
If an individual has a short-term disability, it often allows the injured employee to return to their job after they recover. In general, a short-term disability is usually moderately serious and includes non-threatening injuries or illnesses.
Examples short-term disability injuries or conditions may include:
- Minor injuries which heal within a short time;
- Injuries or conditions that can be corrected by surgery or therapy;
- Muscle strains;
- Minor fractures;
- Broken bones;
- Specified illnesses; and
- A wide variety of on-the-job injuries.
Generally, for an injury to be considered an on-the-job injury, it must come about as a result of the individual’s employment. It must also occur during the course of the individual’s employment.
In other words, the injury must have occurred at the site of employment and during the time an individual is working. Additionally, there should be evidence of a relationship between the injury and the individual’s job description.
There are three main categories of on-the-job injuries, which include:
- Specific events such as a one-time events or traumas, which may include when construction workers fall off of ladders;
- Cumulative trauma, which is caused by repetitive work or movement. This includes conditions such as developing carpal tunnel syndrome due to excessive typing or losing hearing as a result of working with very loud machines; and
- Occupational diseases, or types of diseases that are caused by being exposed to certain types of substances at work, for example, lung disease caused by asbestos exposure.
What Are Long-Term Disabilities?
A long-term disability is an injury, illness, or medical condition which has the potential to put an employee out of work for an extended period of time. It is important to note that the definition of what is a long-term disability may vary by insurer and/or employer.
Long-term disabilities typically include conditions which will last at least several months. Examples of a long-term disability may include:
- Chronic or recurring illnesses;
- Serious conditions requiring multiple or extended surgery treatments;
- Seriously debilitating conditions;
- Situations involving multiple injuries; and
- Job-related repetitive stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
How Are Long-Term Disabilities Processed?
In many employment situations, an employer will provide insurance for employees who have incurred long-term disabilities. Some employers may be more willing to provide long-term disability insurance because short-term disability issues are often covered by an employee’s own medical package.
There are also some states which require an employer to provide employees with a certain amount of coverage for both short-term and long-term disabilities. It is important not to confuse a long-term disability with a permanent disability.
When an individual has a permanent disability, they, in many cases, are unable to return to work due to their condition. A long-term disability, on the other hand, can be very serious, but there is still a good chance that the individual can return to their job eventually.
Social security disability insurance typically covers only total and permanent disabilities. This includes life-threatening diseases as well as other conditions.
Pursuant to social security laws, certain long-term disabilities may qualify an individual for limited coverage. In general, these disabilities are required to have effects which last at least one year.
What is the Difference between Total Disability and Partial Disability?
Some short-term disabilities only involve partial disabilities. In these cases, an employee may be able to work part-time or in a limited capacity.
A partial disability is a type of disability because of which the employee is not able to perform at their full physical capacity. Partial disabilities are commonly caused by injuries that were sustained on the job or due to an illness.
In contrast, a total disability is a condition in which an employee cannot perform any work at all as a result of their condition or injury. Total disability is generally defined as the loss of the use of both of the employee’s:
- Hands; or
A total disability may also be the result of the loss of the use of two parts, such as one arm and one leg. A total disability may also be a result of impairment which is due to a serious occupational disease.
What are Disability Benefits and How Do I Qualify for Them?
If an individual has a severe medical condition, the Federal Social Security Administration (SSA) may provide them with monthly payments. These benefits are called Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, or SSDI benefits.
An individual will be required to satisfy income, medical, and work requirements in order to receive SSDI benefits.
What Do I Need to File an Application for Disability Benefits?
When an individual is filling out their application for disability benefits, they are required to provide basic information. This may include:
- Their social security number;
- Their birth certificate; and
- A description of the work which they perform.
An individual will also be required to provide medical information. This may include:
- Doctor contact information;
- Medication information; and
- Lab results.
Once the government receives all of the required information, they will either approve or deny the claim. If an individual’s claim is denied, they have the right to appeal the denial.
Can I File a Lawsuit over a Disability Issue?
Numerous disability claims are handled through federal or state agency investigations. In the event that these investigations are not fruitful, the employee may be required to file a lawsuit in order to recover damages.
This may be especially necessary for cases which also involve other legal issues such as fraud or breach of an insurance contract. Through a lawsuit, an employee may then be able to obtain legal remedies including a damages award to cover their lost wages and other costs.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Long-Term Disability Issues?
It is essential to have the assistance of an worker’s compensation lawyer for any long-term disability issues you may have. A long-term disability issue may be difficult to classify under state and federal social security laws.
Your attorney can advise you regarding the laws in your state as well as advise you whether your condition qualifies. In addition, if you have to file a lawsuit or another type of legal claim, your attorney will represent you in court if you have to appear.