How to Protect Yourself While Applying for Long Term Disability

Art: Robin Mead

Long Term Disability (LTD) and Short Term Disability (STD) are disability insurance policies offered through your employer.

If your employer doesn’t offer this insurance, skip this article and go have a nice snack.

If your employer offers disability insurance, you are very lucky. Private insurance decisions are sometimes much quicker than Social Security disability. Some people are able to start collecting disability right away, instead of having to wait months or years.

On the other hand, you are also a bit unlucky, because you are going to have to wade into the stormy, thorny and unpredictable waters of private disability insurance companies. If you learn a bit about how these insurance plans work, the next few years of your life may be a lot easier and a lot better.

Plan Ahead

If you are still working or still employed now, here’s a few very important things you need to know: How to Avoid Getting Screwed Over if Your Employer Offers Disability Insurance

Please Read Your Policy

As you read the rest of this page, you will come across several million reasons why reading your policy is a good idea. Some people wait and do not read their policy until months or years after they apply, and then discover some very unhappy surprises. It will be a great help to you if you can get a copy now to read.

Asking for Your Policy

You can ask the person or department who handles Human Resources at your job for a copy of your Long Term Disability policy and Short Term Disability policy. Or you may be able to get a copy through your disability insurance company. Sometimes people feel afraid, shy or embarrassed to ask for their policy. As an employee, you have a right to see your policy and to know what it says. You do not need to offer an explanation why you are requesting this. You have the right to be informed about your benefits.

Avoid Getting Capped

After you read your policy, you will discover that many policy will cap certain conditions and try to automatically cut you off after two years. Obviously, you would rather avoid this. How to Avoid Getting Capped

LTD Lawyers

If you are appealing your case, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer. Most disability lawyers do not handle Long Term Disability claims. You will need to find someone who specializes in Long Term Disability (also called “erisa” claims). Learn more about Where to Find a Lawyer for LTD

Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 

If you have Fibro, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or a related condition, there are a few important things you need to know about Applying for Long Term Disability for Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue

Social Security Disability

It’s important to also apply for Social Security disability. Very important. It’s better not to wait. Here’s some Tips for Applying for Both Social Security and Long Term Disability


Some of our readers on Long Term Disability report that having a supportive doctor is critical. For many insurance companies, there is quite a bit of paperwork for the doctor to fill out, and a supportive doctor can make a big difference. How to Find a Doctor to Help With Disability Documentation


Sometimes the insurance company will send a doctor and important form and only give ten days to respond. It’s a good idea to stay in touch about forms. Some readers report that they had success by getting copies of all forms themselves, bringing them to the doctor, sitting with the doctor while they get filled out, and then mailing them to the insurance company by certified mail.

Proving You Cannot Work

Many LTD policies start by asking you to prove that you can no longer work at your current job. Then at some point they switch to asking you to prove you cannot work any job. This is called “own occupation” and “any occupation.” If you are trying to prove own occupation, you may find it helpful to read some of Peony’s tips on How to Prove You Cannot return to your current job

Common Regrets

Common regrets reported by our readers:

Being Too Friendly – Those nice people from the from the insurance company that call you on the phone or want to drop by your house and check on you, those are not your friends. They may send people to videotape or photograph you outside your home. They may follow you on social media and use your photos or writing as evidence against you. They will also read your medical records and any statements you have ever made about your employer or job or your personal life may be considered.

Talking Too Much – The LTD company may also call you and record what you say and use it against you. When in doubt, many questions can be answered by saying, “I am following my doctor’s medical recommendation on this matter.” (as long as you actually are following your doctor’s medical recommendation on this matter). You can also refer them to your medical records for more answers.

Making Bad Decisions at The Doctor’s Office – The decisions you make, and the things you say, and the things you do right now may turn out to have a big impact on you later. How to Go to the Doctor Without Regret

Reading Library

Success Stories – Stories from readers: How Peony Appealed and Won Her LTD and How Dahlia Proved She’s Not Mental

Facebook Group – Great group: Long Term Disability and Worker’s Compensation Support Group

Videos – This law office has created an interesting collection of videos and stories about each different Long Term Disability Company. In the comments, people tell you what they really think about each one!

Articles – Attorney Scott Davis has written this excellent series of articles with tips for improving your chances of winning Long Term Disability claims. He practices in Arizona and Nevada.

The Whistleblower – Linda Nee has an excellent blog that some of our readers have found helpful. She used to work for a Long Term Disability company.

Tips from Readers:

“Keep copies of all office visits, tests, procedures etc. I have FOUR large binders. My insurance company conveniently states they aren’t getting records from my doctors. So I personally mail everything requiring a signature even when I’m confident they already received and sitting on someone’s desk.”

“Always request and collect full records with treatment notes – not online records or visit summaries. To get treatment notes, you have to sign forms and pay money.”

Updated January 2019. Please comment below with stories, questions, input or ideas. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you found this page helpful, please use one of these magic buttons to share this post on Facebook or Twitter:

14 thoughts on “How to Protect Yourself While Applying for Long Term Disability”

  1. How do you make sure your not getting jacked regarding taxes ? I got approved last year but got hit hard with taxes never even when I worked for I owe this much . I got 66% 3/4 income but paying steep taxes takes a huge hit. What can I do?


  2. Thanks for mentioning to read your disability policy and asking for help to understand it. My father has a somewhat dangerous job, so he could get injured. These tips could help him if that happens, so thanks for sharing them.


  3. I was approved for private LTD through Liberty Mutual today! 🤗 1st try and less than 2 wks after it went for review. I owe it ALL to this group and your website.


  4. I am disabled yet work full time. My condition is progressive and I cannot do ADLs on my own (bathing, preparing meals, toileting, driving, getting in/out of bed, etc). I have family help and I also pay PCAs “out-of-pocket” since I make too much money for a medicaid buy-in in my state.

    My job is computer based and my employer (with our client’s permission) allows me to work from home 100%. Most people doing my job work in the office and interact with team mates which I can only do via the phone or chat. My job has become monotonous and isolating. I do not get any of the socialization benefits of working in an office. I have zero prospects for advancement. For example, I am not allowed to be a manager since you have to be present in the office and work extra long hours.

    Due to the nature of our work, our clients could decide not to allow remote work at anytime. In addition, if we lose our contract, I would immediately be terminated and it would be very difficult if not impossible to find a similar work from home job at a similar pay.

    I have been contemplating applying for disability though my employer’s LTD plan. However, as long as I can work a computer from home should I assume LTD insurance companies (as well as SSDI) would deny a claim? Who can I contact to find out the answer to this question ahead of time, before stopping work? I assume asking the LTD company while I am still working would be a bad idea?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi George,

      Most people put in an application for short term disability while they are still employed, and then move on to LTD.

      There is no way for me to know how they would decide your case, but I do agree with you that to get approved for disability, you would need to show that you are unable to maintain a full time job because of your disability – the other factors you mentioned would not be considered.

      You can request a copy of your LTD policy from your human resources department and read what is in your policy. Even if you don’t apply, it’s still good to know what it says 🙂

      You might find a few things on this page helpful. I hope it goes well for you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for replying! I agree, all the other factors don’t matter. The ability to work full time is. I just wonder how anybody can claim disability when most people I personally know on disability are perfectly capable of typing on a keyboard eight (or more) hours a day?? People with my exact same condition… Maybe I’m overthinking it…

        I did ask my employer for the policy and they sent me a glossy “brochure” quality one page document that summarizes the basics. Should I ask again? I don’t want to raise red flags.

        Love the site! Its awesome!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi George,

          Yes, I do think you have the right to see a copy of your full long term disability plan. It’s up to you of course if you wish to ask.

          I am not sure the answer to your question about others on disability, except to say that it is impossible for any of us to really know what another person experiences or struggles with.

          If you need personal care help with ADLs and this is documented, that would certainly be very strong medical evidence to support a disability claim. But someone who is capable of working full time generally won’t be eligible.

          Sometimes people over the age of fifty are approved for SSDI even if they can do some kinds of sedentary work, depending on age and educational background. Sometimes people are approved if they can work at a computer, but need a lot of rest breaks, excessive absences for health reasons, or have difficulty with focus and concentration due to pain, medications, etc. Every case is different though.

          Hope this helps a little.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. p.s. I assume your HR department would have a copy of the LTD policy or would know how to get it. I think that is how most people get it? If not maybe you could contact the insurance company directly?

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you have any insight into pre-existing condition clauses? The first ERISA lawyer I consulted with is telling me I have almost no chance of winning because I have pre-existing conditions and undiagnosed issues. He will take on my case if I pay upfront.


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