What Does Total Disability Mean?

What Does Total Disability Mean? It depends on the definitions provided by your disability insurance plan or policy. It is generally defined in most long-term disability insurance policies in two parts. For the first 24 months of payments, disability benefits will be approved if you are unable to work in your Own Occupation.

Your Own Occupation is generally the job you were working just before your disability began. It could could also mean your occupation as it is performed in the national economy. There are a few national databases that insurance companies use to define a specific occupation.

After 24 months, the definition of Total Disability changes to mean you have to be unable to work in Any Occupation. This is a more difficult definition of disability to satisfy.

If your disability policy has this change in the definition, the insurance company will be doing an extensive review of your disability insurance claim. Your disability insurance company will now be investigating whether you can work in another job or occupation.

What Does Total Disability Mean? Under ERISA law, the ability to work in Any Occupation requires sitting at least 6 hours in total out of an 8 hour work day. That includes breaks as needed. The remaining 2 hours require the ability to walk or stand. There are other requirements under ERISA, but sitting for 6 hours is the most important when dealing with an Any Occupation disability claim review.

Any occupation does not mean any job whatsoever. The insurance company must take into consideration your past training, education, and experience when evaluating whether there is another occupation in which you can actually work.

The insurance company will conduct a review of your medical records or examinations by their doctors. Then based on that review, they may do a vocational review or transferable skills assessment to identify other potential jobs they believe you could perform.

Disability benefits claims are reviewed periodically and disability benefits can be terminated at any time. However, most long term disability benefits are terminated because of the “Any Occupation review.”

For this reason, it is important to speak with your doctors ahead of time so they are aware the standard for disability has changed. You will want to make sure your doctors understand that you are now required to be disabled from any occupation.


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