In 1997 I was an employee of Time wARNER cABLE in Middletown, NY. I was diagnosed with basal joint diseas and Des Quervain's in both hands. I was approved for Comp and had unsuccessful surgery on both hands resulting in my losing my job. I am collecting Social Security Disability and have settled with Workmen's Comp. I was terminated in 1998. I have since found out that I had been paying for Extra Long Term Disability and could have been receiving it all along. I called the HR office and she said I signed my separation package which included a form to apply for LTD if applicable. I truly don't remember this and did not apply. Since I am permanently disabled is it too late to put in a claim for benefits I was entitled to? Apparently I could collect this until I'm 62 and it cannot exceed more than 66 percent of my income including my SSI. I was under the impression that since I was receiving Comp I wouldn't qualify for LTD. I've since found out that 2 other girls are receiving LTD and even free cable!

1 answer  |  asked Nov 29, 2005 4:23 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Private Disability Benefits

Employees in New York State are generally entitled to two type of benefits for disability.

One is Workers' Compensation/NYS Disability. Workers' Compensation covers you for on the job injuries. NYS Disability, which is administered by Workers' Compensation, is for off the job injuries.

NYS Disability doesn't pay very much, and only for a limited period of time. But it is better than nothing.

One thing a recently disabled employee should always keep in mind is whether your injury really is job related. Your situation is a good example. A lot of employees might assume that your condition is not job related, and not even bother to ask whether they might be entitled to Workers' Compensation, which certainly pays better than NYS Disability.

So, always explore with your doctor whether a disabling condition might be job related. If your doctor says that it might be, it might well be worth the effort to take further steps to see how strong the evidence is connecting your condition to your job.

The other form of disability available to all employees in New York State is Social Security Disability. It is not strictly insurance, but can be looked at as a kind of insurance to cover you in a situation where you become completely disabled.

Some employees are lucky enough to have private disability insurance provided by or through their employers. Generally, this type of coverage comes in two flavors: Short-term and long-term.

It is generally easy to get short-term benefits, which generally last only six months. Long-term benefits are more difficult to get because the definition of "disability" used for long-term benefits is usually a lot stricter than the definition used for short-term benefits. Most long-term policies will pay benefits if you qualify for Social Security benefits, but always keep in mind that you may still be entitled to long-term benefits even though you don't qualify for Social Security benefits.

When and under what conditions you are entitled to short-term or long-term benefits depends on the wording of the insurance policies governing the benefits. The first step in determining whether you are entitled to these types of benefits is to get the appropriate documentation from your employer or the insurance company providing the benefits.

Under a fedral law governing employee benefits, you are entitled to the documentation. Ask for the "benefit book" for long-term disability. Technically, the document you want is the "summary plan description" or "SPD," which is a condensed version of "the plan and amendments." The SPD will often give you the preliminary answers to your questions. But I often find a need to get copies of the plan iteself to get the definitive answers to questions concerning eligibility.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Nov 30, 2005 08:09 AM [EST]

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