By Bryan Tyson
We have recently had several questions regarding the possible impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on short-term and long-term disability claims. These questions tend to be focused around two issues:
- Can COVID-19 result in a short-term or long-term disability claim?
- How will current business closure and employment issues surrounding COVID-19 affect current or potential short-term and long-term disability claims?
Can COVID-19 result in a short-term or long-term disability claim?
This will depend on the express language of the short-term or long-term disability plan. However, most disability policies cover an illness or injury that results in the inability to perform an employee’s job. Therefore, if an individual contracted coronavirus and was unable to perform his job, under most circumstances, the employee would want to consider filing for short-term or long-term disability.
How do current business closure and employment issues surrounding COVID-19 affect current or potential short-term or long-term disability claims?
As almost everyone is aware, many businesses have been ordered to close, or may soon be ordered to close, as a result of federal, state, and local government attempts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, many employees may be soon facing termination if businesses are unable to have them work remotely or to sustain their payroll on a long-term basis with no current income.
If an employee is currently out of work because of a physical or mental condition that may be a disability under their short-term or long-term disability plan – or may soon be going out of work on account of a physical or mental condition – the employee may want to consider filing for disability soon. The reason to apply sooner rather than waiting is that many, if not most, disability plans provide that the employee loses coverage if she or he is terminated. In other words, if an employee was currently out on family and medical leave on account of fibromyalgia and was terminated because the employer closed as a result of COVID-19, the employee’s disability insurance might lapse if the employee has not yet applied.
This can obviously be a great hardship on employees who are suffering from disabling conditions but were attempting to stay at work or work with the company regarding a potential return to work. Nonetheless, employees should assess their current disabled status and, if they believe they may qualify for disability, consider applying as soon as possible to avoid a potential loss of coverage should their employer shut down on account of the coronavirus.
If you have any questions or concerns about your individual situation, feel free to call us at 704.919.1519.