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Work: Preparing For Disability -- Short Term

What Is The Right Time To Go On Disability?

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It’s difficult to know when is the right time to go on disability. There is seldom a precise moment like that of an wipe-out automobile accident when it is clear that a “disability” begins.

If a mistake is to be made, conventional wisdom is that it is better to leave sooner than you need to rather than later. Some people are very determined to keep working no matter what happens. They force themselves to work until it takes every ounce of strength just to go to work. This can be harmful physically and psychologically. It can also make some disability benefits more difficult to obtain.

For Example: Donald L. was so invested in his job, that he loaded his pockets with rocks to prevent his dropping weight from being detected. When his condition got so bad that even he had to admit it was time to stop working, both his private disability insurance company and Social Security insisted on a lengthy review of his claim because they couldn’t believe that he could become disabled “overnight.” As a result, his benefits were unnecessarily delayed for many months.

If you have a question about the timing, write down the advantages and disadvantages of going on disability now. Review it every time there’s a change in your physical or financial condition. Keep in mind the question: can you meet the Social Security Administration definition of “disabled?”

If an increase in salary or a bonus is coming up in the near future, it may be worth waiting until it’s set. An increase not only improves your cash position, but should also increase any disability income to which you may be entitled. Disability income is usually based on the amount of your income at the time you go on disability.

If you think you could be fired because your work is starting to suffer because of your health, or for downsizing or any other reason, keep a note in your pocket when you are called to meetings would could result in letting you go that informs your employer you are giving notice of leaving work because of your disability. If you are fired, you can’t later claim you were disabled and therefore entitled to disability benefits.

If you can avoid it, don’t leave work on disability just before a year-end or other bonus or raise is due.

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