Short-Term and Long-Term Disability Insurance

Common Pitfalls

Confusing private disability insurance with public disability benefits

Short-Term Disability Insurance (STD) and Long-Term Disability Insurance (LTD) are not government benefits and are not connected to any public benefit program. They are private insurance that you get through a private company.

To find out if you have STD or LTD coverage through your employer, talk to your Human Resources person. To sign up for an individual policy, contact an insurance company or insurance agent.

If you are looking for information about public Social Security benefits for people with disabilities, see DB101's Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) article and DB101's Supplemental Security Income (SSI) article.

Basing decisions on misinformation

Most of us usually rely on the experience of others to understand how to deal with similar situations. The real problem with this is that benefits are person-centered. Benefits programs fit each person differently, based on a variety of facts and conditions, such as:

  • Your work history
  • How much you earn
  • What you own
  • How disabling your condition is
  • How clearly you report the details of your condition to your medical provider
  • How well your medical provider understands or documents these details
  • What benefits an employer offers; and
  • What benefits you have purchased individually.

Lack of documentation

The more specifically you document your medical condition, the easier it will be to support a claim and to make a case for continuing benefits. Detailing in a daily journal even the most seemingly insignificant symptoms can be of great value. If you are too ill or unable to keep a journal on a daily basis, a friend or relative can help you take notes on your symptoms. This journal can also be a way for you to inform providers about your medical condition.

Denial of your disability

It is common for people to go through a time when they deny to themselves, their families, and their medical provider(s) that they have a disabling condition. For some people, denial is an approach to coping with a new condition. During this time, the way the person communicates with medical providers may not accurately or fully describe the severity of a condition or how seriously it affects day to day activities.

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