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Return to Work For Your Former Employer: Impact On Benefits Such As Health Insurance


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When returning to work for the employer for whom you worked before going on disability, it's important to understand what happens to your benefits. This discussion assumes that your time off because of a health condition was not under a law such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or another employer program. (To learn more about your rights, see FMLA).

Look at what happens to the benefits you have now such as the following. Click on the links for information about each benefit that concerns you. 

When it comes to the benefits you will receive from your employer, the first question is whether your employer will treat you as a new hire (like a new employee) or as a continuation of your former employment.

If you will be treated as a new hire, the effect will be the same as if you went to work for a new employer. Read: Return to Work For A New Employer- Impact on Benefits.

Ideally you will be treated as an employee returning to work, and not as a new hire. As an employee returning to work there will not be a new probationary waiting period before benefits start. Health insurance will not have a waiting period before your pre-existing health condition is covered. If your employer provides a pension plan, your seniority and vesting will continue as it was.

If your former employer's policy is to treat returning employees as a new hire, you can still ask for an exception. The more unique your skills and experience, the better your bargaining position will be. If you use the "If you don't do this for me, I'll go to another employer" argument, keep in mind that at a new employer's you will be subject to all the new hire restrictions, including the possibility of a waiting period and a pre-existing condition waiting period.

Whether as a new hire or a continuing employee, look at the employer's benefits for which you will qualify. They may have changed since you were working. For example, if the health insurance is changed, you may not be able to continue to see the doctors you've been seeing.

Also look at what happens to your benefits if you find you're not able to continue to work because of your health condition. Include public benefits such as SSDI, SSI, Medicare and Medicaid as well as benefits from your employer.

If you are receiving an income from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), click here.

If you are thinking of returning to work for a new employer instead of your previouis employer, see Return to Work For A New Employer- Impact on Benefits.

Before you start the process of returning to work, be sure to read Returning To Work.

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