While short-term and long-term disability insurance plans provide financial support to individuals unable to work due to medical reasons, it’s important to note that these policies often do not guarantee job security. 

Surprisingly, many recipients find that their employers can legally terminate them while receiving disability benefits. However, certain circumstances may give individuals legal grounds to pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit in response to such employment actions. Get more information on whether a wrongful death lawsuit is taxable or not

Job Protection Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal legislation, grants employees the right to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave annually to address their medical matters or tend to an ill immediate family member. 

Notably, FMLA doesn’t extend to all workplaces; instead, it applies exclusively to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. Additionally, employees seeking coverage under FMLA must have tenure of at least one year with the employer and have logged a minimum of 1,250 hours in the preceding year.

How Do You File A Disability Claim?

Filing a disability claim is vital for individuals facing medical conditions that hinder their ability to work. Some essential steps and considerations to help you navigate the process of filing a disability claim are as follows:

  • Notify Your Employer: Inform your employer as soon as possible about your medical condition and intention to file a disability claim. They can provide you with the necessary forms and guidance.
  • Obtain the Claim Forms: Request the required disability claim forms from your employer or the insurance provider. Complete these forms accurately, providing all requested information.
  • Medical Documentation: Obtain medical documentation from your healthcare provider, including diagnoses, treatment plans, and any other relevant information to support your claim.
  • Submit the Claim: Submit the completed claim forms and medical documentation to the insurance provider following their instructions. Keep copies for your records.
  • Wait for a Decision: The insurance provider will review your claim, which may include an independent medical examination. This process can take several weeks.
  • Receive a Decision: You’ll receive a decision regarding your disability claim. If approved, you’ll be informed of the benefit amount and duration.

Can My Employer Terminate Me While I Am On Disability?

Employers are generally prohibited from terminating you solely because you are on disability leave. Laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect your job during a disability-related absence. However, it’s essential to maintain open communication with your employer and adhere to the return-to-work process outlined by your company.

Are You Paid During Disability Leave?

While FMLA leave itself is typically unpaid, it’s important to note that employees on FMLA leave can often receive short-term or long-term disability benefits, which provide some income replacement during their absence. It will be beneficial for you to get more information on short-term disability benefits.

Many employers may mandate the use of FMLA leave concurrently with disability leave. For individuals with disabilities, FMLA can represent a critical safeguard, as it ensures both job protection and the possibility of financial support. 

It is worth noting that some states may have more generous policies regarding unpaid medical leave than what is mandated by federal FMLA regulations.

What If My Employer Does Terminate Me?

If your employer terminates you while on disability, it may constitute unlawful termination, depending on the circumstances and applicable laws. Consider these steps:

  • Consult an Attorney: Seek legal advice to understand your rights and potential recourse if you believe your termination was unjust.
  • Review Employment Contracts: Examine your employment contract and any company policies related to disability leave and termination.
  • File a Complaint: Depending on the situation, you may file a complaint with relevant government agencies or pursue legal action against your employer if you believe your termination violated employment laws.

It’s crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities during disability leave and consult with an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer if you encounter issues with your employer’s actions. Employment laws and regulations can vary by jurisdiction, so seek advice tailored to your circumstances.

Faqs On Losing Your Job While On Disability

While on short-term disability, you are generally protected from being fired solely because of your disability-related absence. However, this protection is not absolute, and your employment can be terminated for valid reasons unrelated to your disability, such as layoffs, job elimination, or if your leave extends beyond the duration covered by your short-term disability policy.
If you are terminated from your job while on short-term disability, your employer is generally required to offer you the option to continue your health insurance coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). You will likely have to pay the full premium, including the portion your employer used to cover.
Whether you can collect unemployment benefits after being terminated while on disability can vary by state and individual circumstances. In some cases, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are able and available to work, actively seeking employment, and your disability-related termination was not due to misconduct. State unemployment agencies make determinations based on specific facts and state laws.