Topic: Guidance about when to apply for LTD (no FMLA at job)

Forum: Employment, Insurance, and Other Financial Issues — Employment, insurance, and financial concerns are common. Meet others here to discuss and for support.

Posted on: Jan 6, 2011 04:49AM

Posted on: Jan 6, 2011 04:49AM

flachica wrote:

Morning all

I have some questions about the application process for private (i.e., through my employer) long term disability benefits.

I have stage iv breast cancer with liver and bone mets from the outset. I am an associate lawyer. I recently had a year end inventory for 2010. Although it felt like to me that I worked as hard as I could, and could just not work one iota harder, I only billed 1200 hours - that is about 64% of my goal (1900 hours) (billable hours are not just the time you are in the office, but only the hours you are actively working on a file, writing a memo, etc. To get 1200 billable hours I was actually probably in the office about 1400 hours). It was made very clear to me that this performance cannot be repeated.

 As I said, I can't work one percent harder this year than I did last. I put my all into working - and I have an hour commute each way to my place of employment. I experienced some cognitive changes (i.e., memory deficits) due to chemo, absences because of chemo, side effects, drs appointments, not being able to come in after bad scan results (that happened twice last year) - and the job as an associate attorney is grueling and extremely stressful - especially knowing that if one day I only bill 6 hours, when I should have billed 8, that I have that deficit over my head. I am on Tykerb, Femara and have Herceptin and Zometa infusions every 3 weeks.

I have been living with liver mets for a year now - and, well, you all know the statistics. The fact remains I cannot perform my particular occupation - which is an associate attorney expected to bill 1900 hours a year. FYI, my LTD policy is an own (specialty) occupation policy. Additionally, knowing my time is likely limited I do not think I WANT to spend 10 hours at the office and then a 2 hour commute. Every. Day.

So - I am exploring LTD. I am going to be applying for accelerated life insurance benefits next week - already have my form filled out and my onc filled out. I know that many LTD carriers will make you also apply for SSD (that will take off about $2K from my LTD carrier's payments and they will only have to pay aroung 1600), and I am preparing (gathering all my paperwork) for that, and I understand approval is certain through SSD.

My questions are this

what is the timing for applying for LTD? My firm is too small to qualify for FMLA. They have a short term disability plan, but I am afraid that if I go out on ST that I will be fired since I don't have the FMLA job protection benefit (though the firm's policy says kind of that your job is protected - well it doesn't say anything about what they can or cannot do while you're out but does say that you are NOT guaranteed a job when you are done with ST), thus losing out on the LTD benefit (which will pay 60% of my salary (I currently make over six figures) - obviously a huge benefit I don't want to miss out on).

 Should I go out on ST then like a day later submit my LTD application? How does it work? I just don't trust my employer because it is a small firm, and very money conscious. I'm sure they already are pissed about my health insurance (I had about 600K in claims last year). Not to mention I already missed my budget by about $38,000.

Also - in general about LTD - how does that work and will I be approved do you think? I know stage iv w/mets is automatic for SSD - what about for private LTD? Is a terminal illness, with visceral metastasis like I have, enough (of course w/your doctor's forms filled out that you are disabled - my onc is on board and agrees) to qualify for private LTD? I am just worried I may have problems w/it because I don't trust insurance companies - I'm young, I'm a high earner....I just don't know what to expect.

Looking for guidance - thanks. I am planning on calling the patient advocate foundation and talking to the social worker at Moffitt - but thought I'd write to get your all's input. THANKS!!!!

Dx 12/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 7, 2011 04:09PM Mom2Tots wrote:

I had esperience with both std and ltd after the birth of my boys and post partum depression.  I applied and was approved for std.  My employer's policy limit was for 6 months.  At month 5, I informed the disability that I need an extension of std (i.e. the entire 6 months).  They suggested that I also apply for ltd.  I did and was approved.  There was no break.  It was seamless.  I
went directly from std to ltd.  I did notgo back to work and it was independent of what the employer had to say.  Needless to say theywere not pleased.  I worked for a fortune 50 company with over 20,000 employees.  I have been reading up on SS  and your case may very well be fast tracked approval because you are stage IV. 

As an aside , I dont think you help your disability case by continuing to work.  However, your stage IV diagnosis is incontrovertible.  And, when you apply, be sure to tell them about everything!! This includes all of your aches, pains, depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, lack of sex, etc.  Again, all of this may not matter ay stage IV.  Good luck!!

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Feb 9, 2011 06:47PM carberry wrote:

my company tells me that I have to take the std for 26 weeks and then go into ltd, which really bites cause std only pays 160$ a week and i cant live on that!  LTD pays 60%of my wages, but like I said I have to do the 26 weeks first.  I tooo am trying to work as long as possible but as a nurse my mind isnt always as clear and can be dangerous.  I am so sick some days I cant even hold my head up.  Trying to figure out what my next step is and still pay the bills  any suggestions?

Carrie Dx 10/25/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIA, 1/25 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Feb 9, 2011 06:58PM - edited Feb 9, 2011 06:59PM by chainsawz

Lowrider created a great thread over on the stage IV forum called:  Money and Newbies - SSDI, STD, LTD and Life Insurance...

She put links to all  the discussions about STD, LTD and SSDI in one nice place.  It requires some reading, but you will probably find your answers here:

http://community.breastcancer.org/forum/8/topic/757566?page=2#post_2226512

I am also facing a similar problem.  I work in a software company and used to work 60-80 hours a week without blinking an eye.  Now I can barely pull my 40 and I just don't have the mental capabilities to do the work anymore so I think my time for disability is here, too.  I think it is much more important to spend our energy fighting cancer and not spending our days in a stressful environment.  It's going to be hard living on less money, but I think the health benefits will be priceless!! 

Lisa -mets to lungs & brain - clear lymph nodes.....the weakest step toward the top of the hill, toward sunrise, toward hope, is stronger than the fiercest storm. Dx 7/21/2008, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+

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