What happens when your life changes and you have to talk about being disabled? Maybe you can still do your job in some capacity or maybe you can’t, for a while, or forever?
What INSURANCE Benefits should you know about?
Not all employers include these insurance programs as part of the Employee benefits package. Of those that do - Some employers pay for the insurance program and others don’t – but employees pay for the insurance program through payroll deductions.
Short Term Disability
Covers some of your lost paycheck while you are out at doctor appointments, receiving treatment and unable to work. This benefit duration covers a shortish time period like 6-weeks -12-weeks and kicks in after shortish time period – like 1 day, 1 week, 2-weeks.
Long Term Disability
Covers some of your lost paycheck because you can’t come back to work at all, or can only return in a limited capacity and are therefore still losing wages due to your disability. This benefit duration is longer. It can continue all the way to your normal social security retirement age, but some policies are as short as 1-year. READ YOUR POLICY!!
Disability insurance policies pay when you are unable to work due to your illness or injury and you are losing wages.
You and your doctor work together to determine if you are able to do your essential job duties. If you can’t do them at all, even with accommodations from your employer – then you should understand what it means to be totally disabled. You should also understand what it means to be partially disabled.
If you can do your job, you just need some workplace accommodations, you should understand your rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Long Term Care
VERY FEW employers I know offer this type of insurance policy as part of their benefits package.
Most individuals I have met that have this benefit, bought it directly from an insurance professional – like FEE Insurance Group.
This benefit pays for things like home health care, assisted living expenses and nursing home care. It’s very important to understand what type of policy you are buying because these aren’t cheap and you hopefully won’t have to use them for a long time, if ever…
Life Insurance (Accelerated benefits)
It’s fairly common to see employer paid life insurance programs and some people have taken that responsible step of purchasing more life insurance outside of their employers’ option! Quite often these policies feature an accelerated benefit feature. This allows you to access some of your life insurance benefit while you are still alive. Bucket list, medical bills, etc.
What other Employer Benefits may be useful?
Employee Assistance Programs – confidential and free access to counseling, legal and financial services. (Sometimes the insurance company that offers Long Term Disability offers this service)
Sick Leave – this is not a requirement of any employer in Kansas right now, but many employers offer paid or unpaid sick leave to full time employees. Sometimes part time employees have this benefit too.
Paid Time Off – This can be vacation time, sick time off, whatever time you need off. Each employer has their own structure of how you earn paid time off and how you can use it. Unlimited PTO is a trendy benefit right now – I don’t have any employer clients with this as a benefit :-)
What Regulations or Laws may be helpful for an Employee with a Disability?
Family Medical Leave Act & Your Employers Leave Language
Quick Snapshot: Employers with 50 or more employees (plus some weird things you have to consider like distance between your locations, remote workers, etc)
Employees have to meet criteria too:
You have to work there for at least 12 months of total time served
Have at least 1,250 hours in the immediate 12-months prior to the requested leave
FMLA protects you when you need to take time off to deal with a serious injury or illness of you or some specific family members, have a baby/adopt a child. 12-weeks in a certain time period. It’s important to understand how your employer tracks FMLA.
Not all employers have to offer any leave benefits and small employers are not subject to the FMLA regulations. It’s important to understand your employers leave policies and requirements. I’ve met a few people in my life that found themselves in need of time off, and their employer didn’t have any leave policy – that’s tricky, but you can usually find a good solution.
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The federal government says that employers have to try to help everyone who wants to work and is able to safely to do the required job should be able to work. So employers have to make accommodations for disabled employees. If the employer can reasonable accommodate your disability they have to do just that.
The conversation with your employer has to be open and transparent. What do you need accommodated in order to continue to do the essential job functions?
If you can’t type any more due to loss of use of your hands, can the company use voice to text technology for you?
If you need quieter work conditions, can the company change your location or add white noise systems to your area?
The ADA is an interactive dialogue between you and your employer. As your needs change, you have to keep your employer in the loop. They have some things they have to do to stay in line with the ADA. You can check out the employers ADA responsibilities on my other videos :-)
COBRA is what makes it possible to take “your benefits with you when you leave your job.” Not all benefits fall under the COBRA rules, but the big ones – Medical and Dental are normally part of the conversation. By the way – COBRA only applies to the benefit programs you were enrolled in!
You also take over the ENTIRE cost of the insurance premiums – which sometimes this is complete sticker shock moment!! When you see how much your employer was paying FOR YOU, it’s a financial consideration to say the least.
Employers that have at least 20 employees have to comply with COBRA. If your employer has less than 20 employees, check out my video on Micro Groups to gain some facts about insurance for the smallest employers, including self-employed individuals with no employees.
Sarah Sampson, Employee Benefits Leader, and her team are here to help. If you are interested in continuing the conversation, we’d love to connect with you and figure out how we can move forward, together. Visit https://www.feeinsurance.com/connect.