A woman looks at two options: an envelope with a government check and a envelope with a denial letter.

Securing and Maintaining Social Security and Private Disability Insurance

Holly was recently kicked off her private disability plan. After a year, she won back her coverage. In this series, she walks us through the various steps she took and what it was like to navigate this experience.

Why did I have to stop working?

Twelve years ago, when my chronic daily migraine condition began to wreak havoc on my life, my doctor and I made the decision to seek disability. It had become clear that I was no longer capable of holding down a full-time job. I had run out of vacation and sick leave and was continuing to miss the majority of work days. I was getting sick to my stomach at work each day and was having to ask coworkers to take me to the emergency room on a regular basis.

Did private short-term disability help?

I was employed at the time with a company that offered short and long-term disability options through their insurance company. I had hoped that taking a temporary leave from work would quiet my attack frequency and/or severity. However, after a few months of being on short-term leave, it became clear that my migraine attacks were not contingent on whether or not I was working. Still, removing the component of stress that came from falling short in my work was a relief.

When did I add Social Security to my private LTD?

After a couple of months, I officially left my career and I shifted over to the Long Term Disability (LTD) plan. After two years on that plan, in an effort to decrease the amount they were paying me, the private disability insurance company required me to seek disability coverage through Social Security. I was denied coverage the first two tries (which is common) at which time the private disability insurance company hired their own lawyer to go to battle with Social Security disability on my behalf. With their help, I attained Social Security Disability (SSDI) which meant drawing half of my support from SSDI and half from the private disability insurer each month.

Why is justifying coverage a full time job?

Both SSDI and the private company require me to complete regular evaluations at various intervals. These generally consist of submitting updated case records from my doctor to prove that my condition remains unchanged and that I continue pursuing care and treatment on a regular basis. I am required to complete different forms to illustrate my quality of life and the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. Between the two groups and their various evaluation requirements, it sometimes feels as if my current job is to fill out paperwork to justify further coverage.

Many people go straight to SSDI if their employers don’t offer STD or LTD. Having the support of your doctor during the application process is key. We have helpful resources to help people understand the SSDI application process on our site. Please take a look around to learn more.

Are you covered by Private STD/LTD or SSDI or both? What was your process like to secure and maintain this coverage?

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