Hi all, thought I would share with you some of the financial pitfalls I have run into since I have been on disability, and maybe help you to avoid a few of them!
I was dx'd with RA going on two years ago, but had the symptoms for many years before that. By the time I was officially diagnosed I was having trouble walking and doing many other day to day activities, including working. I had been a Department Store Manager for many years, and thankfully had thought enough to take out Long Term Disability insurance. Shortly after my dianosis I went out on short term disability which automatically flipped over to long term after 6 months. At that time, per my insurance company I was required to apply for SSDI as well, which I was approved for.
Now don't get me wrong, I am VERY grateful for both of these insurance services, they are the only things that allowed my wife and I to keep our home and still enjoy some of the lifestyle we did before I became ill. I made a very good living prior to my dx, I now make 65% of what I made while working, which is a substantial hit to the pocket book no matter how much your salary is. Here are a few of the odd circumstances I ran into along the way. Hopefully, if you are going on disability it will help you along the way.
My insurance company allows you to be on full pay for 3 months, then cut you to $300 a week for 3 months. Now those were some tough months! I called my corp benefit office and was pretty much told it is nothing but an incentive to get you back to work. That is a pretty tough pill to swallow when you can no longer work. At the end of 6 months and with your doctors say so, along with a monumental amount of questions from the insurance company I was switched over to long term disability at 65% of my former salary. Shortly after this time I was approved for SSDI. You must inform your insurance company of the benefit amount and the date that Social Security is paying you from. They then cut your insurance benefits by the same amount as what you recieve from SSDI. I also had to pay back the same amount to the date of acceptance from SSDI.
I was fortunate in the fact that I had very little unsecured debt, I am making enough to make ends meet, but I was still looking for a way to make a small amount of extra cash. When your pay has been cut that much, any small amount extra is greatly appreciated. Social Security allows you to make a small amount extra every month. In fact they have a program called Ticket To Work designed to help you do so. In the long run the plan is that you become well enough to resume work and can stop your benefits. Private insurance however, at least mine, has no such clause.
I found a part time job online, one that I could simply do from home, and bring home a few extra dollars a month. I cleared it with Social Security, who were actually quite encouraging. I then called my insurance company and hit a brick wall. I was told that if I earned ANY sort of pay check I would deemed well enough to work and my benefit checks would cease! Now we are only talking around $100 a month in earnings from this job. They did not want to hear it, earn $1 from that job and I was done with my insurance!
To me this is just complete nonsense! I have always been financially independant, and had the common sense to take out insurance to keep me that way in case of unforeseen circumstances. I have always had a huge work ethic, working 70+ hours a week. Having to tell my prospective employer, SORRY, I cannot accept this job because it would mean the end of my disability payments was a very hard thing to do.
I know I am not alone in this. I just cannot wrap my mind around why the insurance company would not want to allow you some financial independance as well. I had to fight hard for both my insurance and SSDI as I am sure any of you out there on it have as well. I am not looking to make a fortune, just a few extra dollars here and there. I can see how people get stuck on disability for good, it is far to scary to go off of it and risk it being shut down for good!
Hopefully this is something that will change over time. I just wanted to let others know a few of the specifics I had to learn the hard way!
Published On: July 26, 2010