How To Increase Veterans Disability Compensation

Getting your veteran’s disability started is difficult enough. What if the VA didn’t rate you properly for your disability? Can you get a “raise” if you service-related condition causes your health to deteriorate? Here, we’ll discuss the how you can increase your Veterans disability compensation and guide you through the process.

How To Increase Veterans Disability Compensation

What Is Veteran’s Disability Compensation?

If you have a medical condition that developed or was aggravated during military service that causes you to become disabled, the VA will evaluate your medical records to determine the severity of your injuries, disability and economic impact. Disability ratings are given in 10% increments, up to 100%. “Disability” is your inability to work, and how much based on the VA’s own Schedule of Ratings.

Why Ask For A Review?

If your original condition was not rated correctly the first time, or your service-related condition has worsened (such as bone degeneration) it may be time for a review. If you are experiencing increasing pain, or need additional treatment for your condition, a re-rating may give you additional compensation and possibly increased medical care.

Determine Your Current Disability Rating

First, find all the correspondence from the VA regarding your disability case. Locate every letter, file, form, and anything you’ve received about your case, no matter how far back it goes. Make sure you know what your current disability rating is before you proceed.

You can also check your current rating at the VA’s online eBenefits site. Don’t guess at what your rating might be. Find out for sure first.

Using the VA’s own Schedule For Rating Disabilities, compare your current rating to the current standards. Consult with your doctor (VA or private) to determine if  and how your condition has progressed, and your chances of a successful update.

You may find that you are getting the maximum available for your current disability rating. Note that getting a rating increase will only occur for an increase in disability, not an need for increased compensation.

Medical Records

Increasing your rate will require you to backup your request with medical records to substantiate your claim. You’ll need to supply the name and address of the VA facility that has your medical records (including military.) Don’t rely on the VA to find your civilian medical records, so make sure you assemble them to support your case. You’ll need to file this form to authorize your physician to speak with the VA.

Consider obtaining an independent medical opinion/exam before you file your claim. Find a physician who specializes in disability medicine, and can offer independent evidence to support your claim.

Filing

Once you’ve assembled your necessary documentation, it’s time to file. You can go online and use the VA’s form 21-526 EZ, or get help in person from a VA regional office, state or county veterans affairs office, or from an accredited veterans assistance organization.

Caveat (Warning)

Requesting a rating increase will cause the VA to reopen and re-review your entire case. They may uncover an error in the original finding, or find evidence of improvement and re-rate you at a lower rating and/or amount, decreasing your compensation. Make sure you have more than enough evidence to support your request of a higher re-rating to avoid the surprise of a reduction.

What Happens If The VA Denies Or Reduces Your Claim?

You have the right to appeal the VA’s decision. If your claim is denied, it may be time to call Herren Law for help.

We Can Represent You

Herren Law has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the disability and veteran’s benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case. You don’t.

Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation in Houston, TX

Confused about Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation? If you’ve become disabled, it’s important to know the difference, because the application processes and outcomes are different.

Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation in Houston, TX

Workers’ Compensation

This is a public insurance funded by employers and includes both medical treatment for on-the-job injuries and/or illness, and partial payment for lost wages. Injured employees can heal away from work, and be paid for their temporary disability. Should an employee discovered that he or she is permanently disabled, permanent benefits are paid. If an employee’s death occurs, benefits can be paid to the survivors.

Texas calculates an employee’s Average Weekly Wage (AWW) as the amount of wages they receive during the period 13 weeks prior to the work-related injury/illness, and uses it to determine the amount of WC benefit payments. The maximum benefit will not exceed that amount, and will vary depending on the type of injury (temporary, longer-term, or life benefits.)

In Texas, employers may offer WC coverage for employees who become injured on the job, but they can opt-out of the state’s plan and offer their own private coverage (self-insure.) If your employer does carry the state of Texas WC, and you apply for Social Security Disability, there may be some overlap. Should you receive both at the same time, you may see a decrease in one or the other.

Social Security Disability

This federally funded program pays you based on your average monthly lifetime earnings, not to exceed 80% of your previous average monthly earnings.  SSD pays you benefits if you are unable to work due to a medical condition that will last a year, or is terminal.

You can complete your SSD application online, by phone or in person by appointment at your local Social Security office. However, you may not receive benefits right away. The Social Security Administration examines your case and makes a determination based on your application. Therefore, it’s important to completely fill out your application and have all of your important information handy when you do. This information includes your name, date/place of birth, Social Security number, the same information on your spouse or former spouse(s), any minor children, earnings, and other pertinent information. (A complete listing of required information is available on the Social Security Administration’s website.)

Possible Offsets

If you are receiving Workers’ Compensation and apply for Social Security Disability, you may receive a smaller amount of SSD than if you would if you did not receive Worker’s Compensation. Social Security calculates the amount that you would receive monthly, and you’ll only receive the difference between your WC payments and the SSD amount. Your total payments cannot exceed 80% of your average monthly income when you were working.

For instance, if you made $3,500 a month while you were employed, your total disability income would be $2,800 per month. If you are receiving disability payments of $1,800 from Workers’ Compensation, then your monthly SSD payment would be $1,000. If you are no longer receiving Workers’ Compensation, then your SSD payment would be the full $3,500 per month.

Both Social Security Disability and Workers Compensation are publicly funded programs, as are others (i.e., civil service disability benefits.) Therefore, disability payments from private sources, like pensions or insurance benefits, don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits. VA benefits, state and local benefits and SSI also do not impact Social Security benefits.

In Texas, offsets to WC aren’t allowed for SSA retirement benefits, and lump-sum payments aren’t usually authorized, except for accrued benefits that haven’t been paid yet.

Need Help? Call Us

If you’ve submitted applications and are denied benefits, don’t give up. The Herren Law Firm has helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the help they need dealing with Social Security and Workers’ Compensation cases. Call us today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t have to pay any fees until we win your case.

Getting Veterans Disability Compensation for Depression

Depression is something that we now know can affect anyone at any time, including veterans. It’s more than just feeling “blue” or down for a few days. If depression continues long term, it can be debilitating, and most people can’t just “snap out of it.” Veterans can be particularly susceptible, especially if they’ve served in a combat zone or another high-stress service connected work environment. If you’re a veteran who’s suffering from or has been diagnosed with service-related depression that impacts your life, you can apply for disability compensation through the Veterans Administration.

Getting Veterans Disability Compensation for Depression

Is It Service Connected?

The VA has two classifications for depression: dysthymic disorder and major depressive disorder, collectively called “mood disorders.”

The first thing the VA will do is determine how and if your depression is directly service connected. You’ll need to produce medical records and other documentation that point to the depression stemming from military service, or from a service-connected injury. Any documentation that proves the depression was service-related will be helpful. If there is nothing in the service medical record, the VA may request statements from individuals who served with the veteran that can corroborate the claim.

If depression existed before enlistment and was worsened by an event or activity during military service, the VA calls it an “aggravated service connection.” The veteran must prove that his or her depression existed before enlistment, and will need to back it up with a statement from his or her physician or mental health professional. Again, if there is no medical notation in the veteran’s service record, statements from fellow service members may be requested.

A veteran must also not have a dishonorable discharge or have any medical condition caused by the veterans’ own intentional misconduct.

Establishing Proof of Depression

In order to process an application and approve (or deny) a veteran’s benefits based on depression, the VA will require various forms of proof. This proof may include:

·         Current diagnosis of depression (from a VA doctor for aggravated service conditions)

·         Evidence of an incident during active duty that triggered or aggravated the depression

·         Medical evidence establishing the link between the current depression diagnosis or aggravation and the episode that occurred while on active duty.

·         A service-connected physical disability that has a direct connection to the diagnosis of depression (called “secondary service connection.”)

An attorney with experience filing VA claims for disability can help identify all the documentary proof needed for a successful benefits application.

Schedule of Ratings

The VA uses a schedule to rate disabilities, including various mental disorders. They rate psychiatric conditions at  0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% depending on the symptoms and the limitations of the individual’s condition. These ratings are assigned once the disability of the depressive episode has been established. To diagnose and rate these conditions, the VA uses the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the standard for counselors and psychiatrists and published by the American Psychiatric Association. The higher the rating, the higher the disability, but a 0% score also opens up eligibility for health care later.

The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale is also used to determine disability ratings for a veteran’s mental conditions. Scores are awarded after the VA’s Compensation & Pension Exam. Ranging from 1-100, the GAF includes one’s ability to function at work, home, and in social situations, with the highest score being the highest functioning. The lower your score, the higher rating from the VA.

We’re Here To Help

You can apply online for VA benefits, or by visiting your local VA office.

If you’ve been denied benefits, or don’t know where to start, call us today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t have to pay any fees until you start receiving benefits.

Does The VA Pay Retroactively To The Disability Date?

Applying for VA disability benefits involves a lot of paperwork, time, and moving targets. Many veterans become frustrated with the difficulty, the length of time it takes, and the dead ends they encounter. But there are a few bright spots.

Does The VA Pay Retroactively To The Disability Date?

The VA has streamlined a few processes that are intended to help alleviate the backlog of claims. The “Fully Developed Claim” is one, and it increases the veteran’s involvement in his or her application. The VA also created “Disability Back Pay,” allowing a retroactive lump-sum payment for the time you spent waiting for your benefit claim to be active. Before you start your application, though, there are a few things you need to understand about receiving benefits and back pay.

Determining The “Effective Date” To Receive Pay Retroactively

The VA will pay benefits and back pay retroactively, according to your “effective date.” The date is established by the later of these two dates:

• The date your entitlement began, or
• The date the VA receives your application

The first criteria of the effective date is when a veteran is treated for a condition, and when the VA should have started paying you.

If your application is within the first year after your service separation, the eligibility date is your date of separation. Disability Back Pay will then be paid retroactively to that date. If you are planning to file a claim, you should do so as soon as possible after you leave the military (if not before, since it takes a lot of time.) Don’t wait until the last minute! When your claim is approved, your back pay will be paid to the date of separation.

If your application is more than a year after service separation, even by one day, the effective date will be the date it’s received by the VA. Your retroactive back pay will only amount to the time since your application was submitted. This usually occurs when a veteran develops a medical condition long after separation. By submitting your application a year after your separation date, you will lose an entire year of benefits.

If the VA makes an error, they will adjust your effective date to where it should have been.

If The VA Denies Your Claim

Once you receive your denial letter, you will have one year to file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA. If you can supply additional evidence (i.e., newly discovered military medical reports) to support your claim, and your benefits are granted, your effective date should be the date of your original application, before the claims denial. An experienced attorney can help you formulate your appeal and help you submit it.

Get Started Now To Receive Pay Retroactively

You can informally notify the VA in writing that you plan to file a claim, giving you an earlier filing date than you would have had. You can use their Statement of Support, or write a letter stating your name, SSN and service dates. The VA will respond by sending you an application form, which must be filled out and returned within one year of your intent letter. If you don’t, you’ll lose the extra time you gained by notifying the VA of your impending claim.

Another Form Of Back Pay

While it doesn’t happen very often, you may occasionally receive additional back pay. If Congress changes the amount that a particular disability should be paid, you could receive an additional back pay disbursement, retroactive to your effective date. These funds would be the difference between what your disability paid you and the new amount of disability payments. Like the original back pay, you would receive it in a single lump-sum payment. You won’t need to apply for it—the VA will automatically process the back payment and send it to you.

You Don’t Have To Do This Alone

Herren Law has experience helping thousands of veterans navigate the VA’s difficult claims system, and we’re ready to help you do the same. Call us at (713) 682-8194, and we’ll discuss how we’ll work with you on your case. The consultation is free, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything until you begin collecting benefits.

Can A Veteran Rated 100% P&T Work Part Time?

If you’ve been successful in getting VA disability benefits, you may discover that it isn’t enough. A part-time job may become necessary to supplement your income. But can you work? Will working, even part time, affect your monthly VA benefits?

It might. But there are a few things to think about before you start filling out job applications and going on interviews.

working part time as a disabled veteran can affect your benefits

What Is P&T?

This stands for “Permanent & Total,” meaning that you are permanently and totally disabled as a result of injuries or medical conditions you acquired during military service. In other words, you are unemployed or unable to maintain substantially gainful employment (full time, paying wages greater than poverty level) as a result of a service-connected medical condition(s) incurred on active duty.

Schedular or TDIU?

There are two types of ratings assigned to veterans—“Schedular” and Unemployability, or TDIU. These ratings indicate your ability to work at the level you held prior to the injury. The VA considers only service-connected disabilities as the reason a veteran can’t be employed.

Schedular

Known as the Schedule of Ratings, or the VA Impairment Rating Tables, these are used to rate a veteran’s ability to return to work. You may be rated at 100% if you received a 60% or more rating from the Schedule, whether for a single disability, or for two or more that add up to at least 70%, creating a 100% disruption in your ability to generate an income. Even though you may not be completely physically disabled, you are allowed to work and earn any amount of income without any impact to your VA benefits.

Schedular disability is not the same as the determination of disability that is used for SSDI (Social Security) benefits.

Total Disability/Individual Unemployability (TDIU)

This version of VA disability means that your rating inadequately compensates you in your ability to generate an income for the disability as it’s awarded.

You may be able to earn a “marginal” income, which is at or below the US poverty threshold (in 2017, it’s currently $12,331 for one individual under 65, and $11,367 over 65.) Should you exceed that “marginal” level, your VA benefits may be reviewed for reduction.

You can, however, earn more than a “marginal” income if you are in a “sheltered position.” This may mean one of three situations:

  • If you’re working in a family business in a “protected environment,” where an employer makes a special effort to employ a disabled individual
  • In a position where specific accommodations are made for you or anyone in the position
    • If the position was created or modified just for you, and the company would not hire a replacement if you left
  • If a similar company wouldn’t hire someone like you for the same job and the same work, such as a position created/modified just to hire you, i.e, offering flexible work scheduling for medical treatments

This rating is usually assigned to veterans with conditions that may be temporary and resolve with treatment.

Should the VA question your employment or reduce/eliminate your benefits, it may become necessary to request documentation from your employer to defend your position. Our attorneys are experienced in VA claims, and can help you through the process.

If The VA Denies Or Reduces Your Benefits

Call us immediately—you must appeal quickly or lose the opportunity. Our attorneys can work with you to file your appeal in the VA’s system to get you the benefits you deserve.

We’re Here To Help

This is just a brief overview of VA disability and working, and should not be considered a complete guide.

The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the disability and veteran’s benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

How Long Do I Have To File For Long Term Disability?

Finding yourself disabled, even temporarily, can be a confusing haze of administrative work you may not be familiar with while you’re trying to heal. There are different types of disability classes, but long-term disability generally means that you are unable to go back to work in a short period of time. This type of policy provides income when you are unable to work, usually 60% of your previous income. The Herren Law Firm has been helping Houstonians through the disability process for over 20 years, and we can help you too.

How Long Do I Have To File For Long Term Disability?

What Does “Long-Term” Disability Mean?

A “disability” is a legal term that just means a medical condition that prevents you from working. Long-term disability means that you are unable to work an extended period. The average case lasts about 3 years. When you file for long-term disability and get it, you’re covered for things like car accidents, having a baby and serious illnesses and injuries, but it doesn’t always mean that you are permanently disabled.

You can only file your claim after a waiting or “elimination period,” when you have exhausted all paid time off (vacation, sick and any other PTO) and short-term disability has ended. Payments start after your claim is approved. Payments aren’t immediate, so it’s best to file as soon as possible so that there is overlap with the end of short-term disability.

Review Your Policy Before You Need It

When you receive your policy (whether through your employer, or on you own), review it carefully and take note of specific previsions. How does the policy define “disability?” What’s the waiting period (or “exclusion period”) on your policy? Will they pay if you’re unable to work the job you’re in, or if you’re unable to work any job, part time or full time? (There’s a difference.) How long will the policy pay you while you’re disabled—a year? Two or three years? Until you retire?

Review your exclusions. Most policies will not cover a disability for things like pre-existing conditions, acts of war, drug abuse, suicide attempts and any injuries sustained during the commission of a crime. There may be other exclusions in the policy—read carefully so you understand them before you prepare your claim.

Pay Attention To Deadlines

Find the deadline in your policy for submitting your claim. The policy will tell you when you’re required to file, and how long you have. Once the deadline is passed, most insurers will not allow you to file a claim.

Ensure That Your Claim File Is Complete

When you submit your claim, make sure that everything is included. Don’t assume that the insurance company has everything they need to process and approve your claim. Request a copy of your claim file for your own review. If anything is missing (X-rays, test results, etc.), request copies from the appropriate parties, forward them and ask the insurer to include them in your file. Complete medical records are a must, including a letter from your doctor explaining why you are disabled. If there are any errors, request that your doctor correct them.

Although he or she may charge you, asking your doctor for an additional detailed report about your current disabilities, limitations and medical history would be an advantage.

Long Term Disability Is Not Health Insurance

Disability payments replace your income when you are unable to work. Medical expenses are not covered under long-term disability. Health insurance, which is separate, only covers your related medical expenses.

Keep Copies Of Everything

It’s always important to know who you spoke to, when, what was mailed, to whom, and when. If you do find yourself fighting the denial of your claim, you’ll need copies of everything to file and appeal, and to take to your attorney. Keeping detailed records will help you fight denial and make it easier for an attorney to work on your case.

With over 4,000 successful disability claims under our belt, we’re ready to help you too. We work on a contingency fee basis—you only pay us a fee if we can win your case. Call us today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation.

Do My Long Term Disability Payments Affect My Social Security Payments?

The short answer: Yes.

It’s called an “offset.” Payments from a long-term disability policy can (and very likely will) be reduced by the amount you receive from Social Security. This is true whether you receive SSI or SSDI. The Herren Law Firm understands the process and can help you manage your claim and get you the benefits you deserve.

Do My Long Term Disability Payments Affect My Social Security Payments?

What’s The Difference Between Disability Payments And Social Security Payments?

Long-term disability is private insurance that you either purchase yourself or receive as a benefit through your employer. Disability payments provide income while you are disabled and are unable to work for a long time. Long-term disability provides a portion of your income (usually 50% to 65%, depending on the policy) while you are disabled. This insurance starts when short-term disability ends, usually after three to six months.

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are government-funded programs that provide income when you are unable to work due to a disability. You pay into the system with the Social Security deductions from your paycheck.

What Is “Disabled?”

Generally, it means that you are unable to work at your regular job; “long term” is more than 30 or 120 days. You must be able to prove that you are medically and physically unable to work for an extended period of time. Your policy may specify that you must be unable to work the job you were in, or if you are unable to work any job, full or part time. Review your individual policy to find out about disability payments and more.

Disability criteria differs for insurance companies and Social Security, which is much more stringent. The Herren Law Firm can help you apply for Social Security benefits, and increase your chances of approval.

The Offset

When you file your Social Security claim, your benefit payments will take a very long time. However, the date your first file is your date of disability. Individuals frequently receive a lump sum for the period before their regular benefits begin, called a “backpay.” The insurance company may require you to refund some of the payments they previously paid to you using the backpay, to offset the monies already paid.

How It Works

Some long-term disability policies will require you to apply for Social Security when your insurance payments begin. Once it’s approved, your disability plan will pay you the difference between your Social Security payment and your policy payment. That is, if your policy payment is $2,000 a month, and Social Security is $1,500, your policy payment will change to $500 instead of the entire $2,000. The “offset” is the $1,500 per month that Social Security pays you, and your total income remains the same.

Backpay Is Taxable

Even if you are required to make a large, lump-sum payment to refund your insurance company, the IRS will also collect taxes on the lump sum. Many individuals are shocked to receive a tax bill for that amount, and may be unable to pay it. If you expect to receive a lump sum from Social Security, consider saving a small monthly amount from your disability payments to protect yourself against an unpleasant surprise later.

Long-Term Disability or Social Security? Or Both?

It depends on the insurance policy you have, and how long you may be disabled. Individually purchased disability insurance may allow both without offsets, whereas group or employer policies may have more restrictions. Some policies may require you to apply for Social Security once the insurance payments start.

Reading and understanding your individual policy is essential before starting and submitting a claim, so that you understand what you can expect, and if there is an offset once you receive your benefits.

The Herren Law Firm Is Ready To Help

Applying for Social Security for disability is a long process, and most claims are denied at the outset, requiring appeals. This is where you may need an attorney to handle your claim so you can start receiving benefits. If your insurance company is denying your claim, an attorney can step in and get the process moving again.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians just like you get the disability benefits they need. Call us today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee arrangement means you only pay us if we win your case.

Can You Be Fired While On Long-Term Disability?

Long-term disability can be confusing. The disability payments, insurance filings, doctor visits and everything that goes along with it. Eventually, you’ll be ready to go back to work.

But will your job still be there?

It Can Happen

getting fired while on long-term disability

Your employer can’t fire you just because you are on long-term disability, or because of your disability. But your employer can fire you while you’re out for reasons besides disability. There are laws to protect you in the event that you are disabled, and make sure you can go back to your job when you’re no longer disabled or recovered enough to return to work. The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 Houstonians work through the maze of long-term disability. Let’s look at how the law protects you.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA is a federal law that applies to companies with more than 50 employees (small businesses are generally exempted) and you must live within 75 miles of your company. Your company is required to give you 24 weeks of unpaid leave for things like physical or mental illness (yours or a family member), having a baby, etc. You must request FMLA leave according to your company’s policies, or you could be terminated for not notifying your employer that you need FMLA leave.

If you’ve properly requested FMLA leave, your employer must a) give you back the position you left, or b) give you a similar position, if you’re still able to do the same job you did before.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA is another federal law that applies to businesses with 15 or more employees. The ADA defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” If you meet this definition, you may be able to extend long-term disability after your FMLA time runs out. Your employer must offer reasonable accommodations after you notify them of your need. This can include flexible scheduling, wheelchair access, Braille signage, or even granting additional ADA leave.

Reasonable accommodation should not cause your employer an “undue hardship,” and your employer will determine if the accommodations will be enough for you to do your job. Negotiations may be necessary, and your employer may request that you try a number of different accommodations to see which ones work. If none are available, or they are unable to accommodate you to return to work, the company can legally fire you.

Business Changes

Your company may undergo a reorganization while you are out on disability. If this happens, and your job is eliminated, you can be terminated while you’re on leave. The company may not be able to keep your job open for an extended period of time due to business needs, and may be forced to hire someone else to do your job in your absence, whether temporarily or permanently.

You can be Fired at Any Time

Most employees are considered “at-will,” meaning that unless you have an employment contract/guarantee in writing and in place, you can be fired for nearly any reason at any time, or for no reason at all, unless that reason is illegal, i.e., discrimination, a medical condition, etc. It’s important to keep records of your requests for leave and accommodations under FMLA and ADA, as well as other important employment-related paperwork you may need later to prove your case. If you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated, contact the Herren Law Firm for a free consultation.

If you were fired for poor performance, excessive absenteeism or another reason that an employer would normally fire someone for, then your employer can fire you legally. Under these circumstances, you can be fired during the long-term disability leave or when it ends.

Your employer can also legally fire you if:

• You do not return to work after using all of your sick/vacation time
• After FMLA leave, (or fail to declare it before leaving) after your employer has provided reasonable accommodations
• Can’t do the job despite the offered accommodations

Don’t Do It Alone!

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians with disability related legal issues, and we’re ready to help you with yours. For a free consultation with attorney Bill Herren, call us today at (713) 682-8194 if you need legal help while you’re on long-term disability.

Don’t wait—it might be too late.

What’s the Difference Between Long-Term Disability and Short-Term Disability?

Have you just started a new job, and heard a lot of different terms in orientation about “disability?” Are you faced with the possibility of being on disability, and don’t understand everything? At the Herren Law Firm, we understand the process of disability insurance and filings, and can help when the time comes.

know the difference between long and short term disability

What is Disability Insurance?

There are two types of disabilities, and disability insurance. It’s important to know the difference between the two. Both long-term disability (LTD) and short-term disability (STD) are separate insurance policies that serve as a replacement for your regular income in the event you are disabled. Disability insurance pays you when you are unable to work due to an illness or injury, regardless of the cause. It also covers gaps when your sick/vacation time are used up, and may keep you from having to dip into savings and retirement funds to pay your bills.

Both types of insurance are separate from health insurance, which only covers medical expenses. Disability insurance is also not the same as Worker’s Compensation, which is issued through your employer and only for work-related or workplace injuries suffered on the job.

Short Term Disability

The term means just that—usually 30 to 120 days, and starts paying within a few weeks. Short term is for things like a broken leg, maternity leave, or other limited convalescence.  If you’ll be going back to work in a few weeks or a few months, this policy pays you for the time that you’re unable to work. STD is only available through your employer. If your employer doesn’t offer it, you will have to use your sick time, vacation time and savings/line of credit to cover your expenses until you return to work. (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island may require your employer to offer this coverage.)

Long-Term Disability

Long-term disability is used when you will be out of work for a longer period. LTD starts after you’ve exhausted sick/vacation time and your short-term disability policy ends, and takes longer to start paying. An emergency fund can bridge the gap between the end of the short-term policy and the beginning of the long-term policy, although, ideally, it should start where the STD ends.

Long-term” doesn’t always mean a permanent disability. It just indicates a medical condition that prevents you from working. The average LTD claim is for 3 years, although some do go on longer. If you don’t have three or more years of savings to cover the loss of income, long-term disability covers some of your income so you can pay your regular bills.

If you’re considering applying for disability through Social Security (SSDI), know that getting it can take a year or more, is difficult to get and approval is not guaranteed. The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 people file claims and suits they needed for disabilities.

What LTD Covers

An LTD policy pays about 60% of your regular income. If you buy your own long-term disability policy and pay your premiums with after-tax dollars, the income from the policy is tax-free. That means with a $100,000 yearly salary, you’ll be paid $60,000 year, tax free.

Employer Or Self Pay?

Most people have long-term disability insurance through their employer, but you can also purchase a policy individually. It is more expensive, but an LTD also pays more, and longer, depending on the policy you chose. When considering cost and affordability, it may be time to do a financial housecleaning and see what you can eliminate from your budget in order to cover an LTD policy. What’s more important—something that doesn’t create value, or something that can save you from bankruptcy if you’re unable to work for a long time?

The length of the payments depends on your LTD policy. Since the average disability is three years, you can purchase a policy that pays as long as five years—or until you retire. Some policies will cover you until age 67, when you can start receiving Social Security. Doctors, nurses and others that use their fine motor skills benefit from this kind of policy, since it guarantees income if they are disabled by an illness.

Need help?

Having trouble with an insurer? Call the Herren Law Office today at (713) 682-8194. We’ll give you a free consultation, and work on a contingency fee basis to help you get what you paid for. We’ve been helping people for over 20 years, and would be happy to help you too.

How long does it take for a veteran’s claim to be processed? (Video)

Transcript:

A veteran’s claim process is very back-logged. Some of the claims can take years to process through the appeals process. I recently settled a claim that had been pending for five years. This is an unacceptable situation and should be addressed by congress.