Monday, June 9, 2014

Is there help for short term disability problems?

People often ask whether there is help for short term problems (like broken bones or surgery requiring rehabilitation) and long term problems that are sure to last, or have already lasted, a year.
Short Term Disability
California State Disability (SDI) provides about 66% of your wages if you have to be out for up to a year. This can include pregnancy leave.  This program is funded by California State payroll taxes. Employees often complain about California taxes.  They don't realize the full benefit of what they get.  For relatively few dollars, compared to a policy  you'd pay for yourself  (like Aflac or Met Life),  you get a year's worth of coverage without doing anything.  (More about Long Term Disability insurance below.)
Whether you think your problem will be short term or long term, you can (and should) apply for SDI as soon as you know you have a problem - even if you are filing for Workers Compensation (WC).  SDI and WC payments may affect the amount of Social Security benefits you get - that subject requires another short article. It will be called "Offsets."
SDI benefits are easy to get and you shouldn't really need to pay anyone to do this for you (in my opinion). You can find out more about SDI and apply online at 
Back to long term disability.
Social Security is a federal disability program also paid by payroll taxes.  Sometimes people think there is an account with their name on it, sitting there waiting for them. (I often hear, "It's my money.")  Not true.
In addition to all the other legal requirements, not medical requirements, but legal ones, the 12 month issue is critical.  People with stage II breast cancer, for example, have a serious medical problem. But it has a very good recovery rate.  Social Security examiners will wait to see how those patients respond to treatment.  If they are back to work within 12 months  (as we all hope and pray for), no benefits will be paid. (Thus State Disability is extremely important.)  But, if it takes 18 months to recover, benefits will be paid for what is called a "closed period."  Should you file just in case?  (That needs a whole other article called: "When do I file?")
If it continues, benefits are paid accordingly.
Long Term Disability Policies (LTDB)
Some employers pay the premium for LTDB and the employees don't even know about it. Many of my clients didn't know and didn't think to ask. So ask your HR department. 
In every single case, the LTDB insurance policy - who no one has ever seen apparently - has some fine print in it that (the clients are told by their LTDB claims manager - but who never shows them the policy) requires the client to pay back every dollar they get from the LTDB from their Social Security benefits.
Is it legal for them to do this?  Can they force you to? Can they just take you benefits from you if you don't voluntarily give them away?  What do I tell my clients? Alas, I won't tell you here- but I will tell you I find it outrageous that you'd pay for a policy, get coverage and then have to pay them back. No wonder people hate insurance companies as much as lawyers (except me, of course).  Would you pay for car insurance if the policy required them to pay you back? I wouldn't. But, perhaps it's just me.
These articles are my understanding (I wouldn't post it otherwise, duh) but are not "legal advice."  Talk to a qualified attorney or non-attorney representative for advice specific to your disability case.

#kaytracy #ktracy #attorney #lawyer #disability #socialsecurity #veterans #vallejo #vacaville #fairfield #suisun #solanocounty #california

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