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Return To Work: Group Long Term Disability (LTD)

What If I Start Work, But I Have To Stop Working Again Because Of My Health? Recurring Disabilities Provisions

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Most policies have a provision that states that if the later disability is for the same reason as the first, and the later disability occurs within six months of the first claim stopping, it will be considered the same claim. Note that the time period starts when the first claim stops -- not when it starts. This is called a "Recurring Disabilities" provision.

If the later disability is within the appropriate time period:

  • There will not be a new period during which you will not receive income (the "elimination period"). Payments will start immediately because they are considered to be a continuation of your prior claim.
  • As explained further in Group Long Term Disability, many policies provide that they will pay a benefit for a period of time, such as two years, if you are unable to perform your own occupation. After that, a benefit will only continue to be paid if you cannot perform any occupation -- not just your own. If your policy contains a provision like this, and if you have a later disability, the "own occupation" definition will be reinstated. For example, Ron W's policy has an "own occupation" definition for 24 months, and then changes to an "any occupation" definition. If Ron goes back to work after 18 months, and 7 months later becomes disabled again due to the same health condition, the own occupation definition will apply for an additional 6 months.

Wording of these provisions vary, and how insurance companies interpret the provision vary as well. Some companies say it only applies if you return to the same employer; others interpret it so that it can be reactivated no matter for whom you work.

  • If you were disabled due to a mental condition: There may be a provision that says if you are disabled for a mental condition, the policy will only pay for two years. If you go back to work after 13 months, and the condition recurs, you could receive an income for an additional 11 months due to the recurrence.

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