If you need to use your long term disability insurance close to retirement, eligible time frames can change based upon your age. Typically, long term disability is paid out for a certain number of years and up to a certain age. Many plans will pay out until age 65 or retirement age under social security. Of course, if you can return to work before the maximum time runs out under your policy, then these dates are not an issue. Remember, long term disability is meant to replace a portion of your income only during the time that your disability keeps you from being able to work. Insurance companies routinely challenge your ability to return to work as time passes, but you still need to know what is potentially available to you and for how long.
How much money will I see in Long Term Disability benefits?
As you reach or approach retirement age, the total amount of money that you are eligible to receive in long term disability can be cut off before it otherwise would in a younger person. Long term disability plans will usually replace approximately 50-80% of your pre-disability earnings, reduced by social security disability. When signing up for disability insurance, you will elect a certain number of years for coverage, which will be capped by a certain age. In order to determine how much money you will see in long term disability benefits, you need to know the percentage of income payable set forth by your policy as well as the maximum length of benefits allowed.
If I am 65 years or older, can I get long term disability?
The length of time that you are eligible for long term disability after the age of 65 is going to be specifically spelled out in your policy. The policy will have a schedule of benefits which shows your maximum benefits period. This period is usually expressed as a number of months at or beyond the age of 65. For example, your policy might allow for 20 months beyond the age of 65, before benefits will cease. Some companies, for example, Guardian, offer coverage up to age 70. Keep in mind that it is the employers who select the insurance company whose plan they will provide, so you likely won’t have a choice in maximum coverage. You might, within that insurance companies’ offerings, be allowed a few choices in terms of a maximum number of months that you may be eligible for coverage beyond retirement age. Those choices set the price point for premiums. It is usually pretty inexpensive to add additional months.
If you’ve been denied disability benefits or have had them terminated for any reason, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the potential length that benefits may last under your own specific and individual policy. This will allow you to properly assess how beneficial your long term disability plan would have been to you, had benefits not been denied or terminated. For example, if your benefits terminate with only a few months to go and at a low pay-out, you may not feel that it is worth appealing, given the tremendous amount of time and work that a properly prepared appeal will take. Discuss these concerns with an attorney who is familiar with long term disability appeals. They can help you calculate the math in order to make a good decision for yourself.
As always, you will need medical support for your inability to keep working. When you have discussions with your doctor about your disabling condition, a good question to ask is how long others in your situation might expect to be unable to work for. Of course, every person and every disability is different, but everyone likes to be able to plan ahead for the future and gauge possible time frames when dealing with a disability.
If you are close to retirement age and were denied long term disability benefits based on not meeting your policy’s requirements for disability or not providing enough medical support, do not give up. Sometimes people who are over the age of 65 think that it is not worth fighting for their disability because of their age. I encourage you to ask for a copy of your own actual policy and speak to an attorney about your overall circumstances. A long term disability attorney can help you understand what options are available under your policy and help you decide what your next steps should be. Many people over the age of 65 will qualify for continued long term disability benefits and would absolutely gain benefit from appealing an unfavorable decision made by their insurance company.