The Importance of Occupational Definitions in Long Term Disability Policies

Most Long Term Disability policies only provide benefits for a limited time while the insured is disabled from his or her own occupation. This time period is known as the “own-occupation” period. Typically, it is easier for a policy holder to meet this definition of disability because he or she only need establish that they cannot perform the duties of a single occupation-their own. For instance, in a recent case we handled, a registered nurse who was in a serious car accident and suffered a back injury was found disabled because she could not stand on her feet for eight hours and had lifting restrictions that prevented her from assisting patients in and out of bed.

However, after a limited time, usually 24 months, the typical policy provides that benefits are only payable if the insured is disabled from performing any occupation. The Long Term Disability insurance companies normally perform a complete review of every claim when the definition changes and will often use this change to terminate benefits finding that the insured can perform some job. Frequently some nonexistant job for some nonexistant company.

Accordingly, anyone looking to purchase Long Term Disability Insurance should be aware of this important issue.