COVID-19 shows no signs of going away soon, and for long term disability insurance claimants (as well as those who are considering filing for disability benefits), the added variable of this global pandemic can throw a wrench in a disability application. COVID-19 can affect everything from your ability to access and document medical care to the fundamental duties of your current job. What should claimants know about the role COVID-19 may play in their receipt of long term disability insurance benefits?
Will The Way a Job is Performed During COVID Affect Disability Benefit Approval?
When COVID-19 first began its rapid spread in March 2020, many employers quickly transitioned into a work-from-home model for employees whose jobs allowed them to work remotely. But for many people, working from home allows you to make disability-related accommodations that just aren’t possible in an office environment. Once employers begin issuing return-to-work orders, employees who can continue working only by virtue of their current remote working arrangement could find themselves forced to make a difficult choice.
Fortunately, so far, disability insurance companies have been willing to negotiate these nuances, listening to claimants’ arguments that they are only able to perform the substantial duties of their job if they are permitted to work from home. For some, this is an acceptable accommodation that can help avoid having to file for disability benefits.
Disability Companies May Argue Your Loss of Income is Due to COVID, Not Disability
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who lost their job when the pandemic began to accelerate, you may have more of an uphill battle when it comes to showing that you can’t return to work due to your disability, not due to the economic impact on your industry. To prove your entitlement to long term disability benefits, you’ll need to have comprehensive medical records and physician statements showing that you’re unable to perform the basic functions of your job.
Can You Obtain Long Term Disability Benefits For the Risk of Getting COVID?
In most cases, unless you have a serious autoimmune disorder or cancer, the risk of getting COVID – in itself – isn’t enough to qualify you for disability benefits due to your inability to return to work. After all, there are many other communicable (and potentially deadly) diseases around; unless you’re especially high-risk and can prove it through your medical documentation, you won’t qualify for disability benefits absent other evidence that you can’t work.
Disability Companies Will Search Your Social Media Profiles
Disability insurance carriers have a vested interest in denying claims that don’t have adequate support. Part of this involves keeping an eye on your social media accounts and even conducting video surveillance to see if they can spot any discrepancies between your physical abilities and what you claimed you could (or couldn’t) do in your benefits application. It’s important to be prudent when posting on social media, as well as truthful in your application for benefits.
How Will Lack of Treatment During COVID Affect Your Disability Benefit Approval?
During the height of the first COVID spike in March and April, many hospitals and doctors stopped taking on new patients or limited their appointments to help minimize the spread of the virus. In many areas, these backlogs continued even as medical providers fully reopened, making it challenging to get all of the medical records you’ll need to create a strong claim for benefits.
For claimants who are already receiving disability benefits, insurance companies have been understanding about the backlogs faced; many have relaxed their requirements when it comes to claimants’ abilities to get current medical statements from their doctors. But for those who haven’t yet filed for disability benefits, it can be tougher to overcome the initial hurdle of qualifying for long term disability insurance benefits. It’s a good idea to consult an experienced disability insurance attorney to help you work around your insurance carrier’s requirements.
Whether you’re considering filing for long term disability benefits or need some help navigating your current claim, look no further than Disability Insurance Attorneys Dell & Schaefer. Our experienced long term disability insurance attorneys have helped thousands of claimants receive disability insurance benefits and are continuing to pursue claims during the current pandemic. Just give us a call today to set up your free consultation with an experienced disability insurance attorney.