Disability insurance: Where’s the fairness?

In about two weeks my short term disability (STD) insurance will end.  My health will probably be no different than it is today, but my insurance will disappear.  Luckily, I paid into my company’s long term disability (LTD) insurance.  Last week I got all sorts of information about this benefit.  I learned how much it will pay, how the money will be taxed, and how my other benefits, such as health insurance and the FSA, will be affected.  Of course, this is assuming that I get LTD.

My rheumatologist has been on vacation for over a week.  When she gets back later this week, she will find some forms that are waiting for her at the office (assuming the postal service delivered them on time.)  I hope that she fills out these forms and sends them in quickly.  I must fill out my own set of forms, with crazy questions like asking me to list all of the illnesses I’ve had in the last 5 years, and send them in.  And then I wait.  I wait and I hope that my application is approved the first time around.  As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, after years of people not believing that I had a real health problem, I still get nervous about this kind of paperwork.

Still, I will probably be approved.  I now have years of medical records that document my condition, and doctors who will explain why I can’t work.  I feel so fortunate.  The payout is decent – enough to pay all of my bills if I’m frugal.  I get to keep my (very decent) health insurance.  I lose some benefits, such as the FSA, but so be it.  I can even work to a certain extent while I am on LTD (when I eventually feel up to it.)  This is all much better than what I had expected.  But there’s one thing that really bothers me: fairness.

Ok, the world isn’t fair.  We all know this.  Still, it doesn’t seem right that I get this benefit because I worked at a company that provides LTD, while so many others do not.  If I had gotten sick 10 years ago, I’d simply be unemployed now.  And if my current inability to work doesn’t improve within the 2 years that I have LTD?  Then what?  Social security is a joke – it wouldn’t even cover my rent right now.  Even if I moved out of state to an area with a lower cost of living, it wouldn’t be enough.  I would be on Medicaid and food stamps and would still have trouble paying the bills.  Is this the way we want our system to work?

I feel so grateful for the amazing benefits I have, and so horrified that they are not standard.  I can not understand why more people don’t stand up and insist on receiving these kinds of benefits.  I suppose everyone thinks it won’t happen to them.  That’s what I used to think.  But most of us know someone who has had to deal with illness, so isn’t it just possible that it could affect us too?  We need outrage right now.  I’m too tired to fight for this kind of universal benefit right now, but when I get my energy back, when I’m feeling better, it will be right near the top of my list.  When I go back to work, I want to fight for equality and fairness.  It’s an uphill battle, but one that I look forward to fighting.



If you can relate to this, please pass it along!  Thanks!

5 Responses to Disability insurance: Where’s the fairness?

  1. abcsofra says:

    You are very fortunate in having LTD at your employer. Wish I had it when I got ill. I had just changed jobs like 6 months earlier. Who knew. But I know now and I rant…errrr…blog about that on a regular basis…making sure one has LTD even if one must pay for it when one is working. So many of us think we aren’t going to get that kinda sick but we do…unfortunately. My 20 year old has that on her hit list of must haves for herself once she starts working. Well, at least for her things might be a tad easier. And you will probablyhave to apply for SSDI anyway…your LTD insurer when approved (notice I said when approved…I have confidence in you here) they will ask that you apply. You will not get to keep both of them only the LTD, the SSDI will have to be reinbursed to the LTD insurer. Hope that is as clear as mud 🙂 Got my thoughts and hopes crossed for you…never ever fingers.

  2. Find Focus says:

    There definitely needs to be more education, but there also needs to be more availability. This is an excellent post that poses excellent concerns to think about… I got laid off last summer after spending 10 years with a local community college. I loved my employer and being in that environment and had a certain amount of flexibility with my scheduling after I got diagnosed with CFS and, later, Fibromyalgia. My boss changed, however, and my new boss didn’t believe either diagnosis actually existed and made it very difficult for me sometimes. I can’t pretend not to think that had something to do with the decision to send me home instead of one of the other 3 employees in my office (one of which had been with our program for only 3 weeks). It was disheartening at the time, but it’s become a much larger issue since then… Due to the cost of COBRA, I was unable to maintain my benefits package there and lost everything I’d spent 10 years working for. Now I’m unemployed in a state that has a VERY low (capped) unemployment disbursement. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m married and my husband still has a job, I don’t know where I’d be. Forced to move back to my parents’ house, probably, even though I’m in my 30’s.

    Finding a job is difficult in this economy, but that difficulty is compounded by the fact that I’d like to be able to work somewhere that will offer these types of benefits. Sadly, they’re sometimes the exception instead of the rule. LTD should be an available option if benefits are offered…. These things can happen to anyone – I speak from experience. 🙂

    Thanks for writing about this! I haven’t read all of your posts so I’m not sure if yours was approved, but I hope it was!! And I hope it helps! 🙂

    • chronicrants says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. It’s difficult to have a boss who’s a doubter – I’ve had that too. I hope you can find something great soon.

      I think that LTD and other benefits should be independent of employment; our ability to get reasonably price health insurance and other benefits should not be tied to where we choose or are able to work. Unfortunately, the people in charge think otherwise.

      I don’t know about my LTD yet, but thanks!

      • Find Focus says:

        I agree – that would ultimately be to the best benefit of everyone! When I was shopping for individual insurance everything was SO expensive and I was so afraid of revealing my medical history. I was one of the lucky ones & everything worked out okay (my hubby’s new job offered benefits that we could actually afford), but I wish it wasn’t tied to employment – especially after what I went through… Best of luck!!

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