There are different definitions of disability found in disability insurance policies that determine what you need to prove to be found disabled. The definition is usually related to what kind of work you are capable of performing.
In some cases, it is a broad definition of “any occupation” and in other cases, it could be a more narrow definition of “Specialty occupation.”
Own Occupation vs. Any Occupation
Most long-term disability (“LTD”) policies have two different definitions of disability. Usually, during the first twenty-four months of disability, you must be unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your own occupation, whatever that may be. This is known as the “own occupation period.”
After twenty-four months, the definition of disability changes to mean that you are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of any occupation that you may qualify for based on your education, training, and experience. This is known as the “any occupation” period.
However, some policies are “own occupation” for the entire policy term where the definition of disability is always the inability to perform your own occupation.
Specialty Own Occupation
Some disability insurance policies are even more specific. In addition to the policy being “own occupation” the entire time, some policies will further define what your “own occupation” is. If there is a specialty own occupation definition of disability in your LTD policy, this means that you must be unable to work in your specialty occupation.
For example, you are a dentist who specializes in endodontics (root canals). A specialty own occupation definition of disability would mean that you must be unable to perform the material and substantial duties of an endodontist. Even if you could work as a general dentist, you would still meet the definition of disability if you could not work as an endodontist.
Who Should Have a Specialty Own Occupation LTD Policy?
People who are highly specialized in their field should consider having a disability insurance policy that has a specialty own occupation definition of disability. We see many doctors, lawyers, and dentists who specialize in a specific area have this type of coverage.
I am a Specialist in my Field who is Disabled. What do I do Now?
If you believe you may need to file a claim for disability soon, one important thing to keep in mind is to not change your occupational duties before you file your claim. If you do so, you could erode your occupation. Your occupation is the one you were working in at the time of disability.
For example, if the endodontist in the earlier example realizes he can no longer perform root canals all day but thinks he can work as a general dentist and starts performing general dentistry, he is eroding his own occupation. If he then files a disability claim, there is a risk that his own occupation at the time of disability would be one of a general dentist, not an endodontist.
Help from a Lawyer with Expertise in Disability Insurance
Disability insurance law is complex. Hiring an experienced disability attorney is important. Because all disability lawyers at this law firm focus on disability insurance claims, we have expertise in disability insurance law.
- We have experience with every major disability insurance company;
- We have a proven track record of success by winning major disability lawsuits;
- We have recovered millions of dollars in disability benefits for clients;
- We never charge fees or costs unless our clients get paid.
The firm can help at any stage of your disability insurance claim, including:
- Submitting a disability insurance claim;
- Appealing a long-term disability denial;
- Negotiating a lump-sum settlement; or
- Filing a lawsuit against your disability insurance company.
Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, our lawyers are able to represent clients across the country.
Call to speak with an experienced disability attorney. Consultations are free.