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What Happens When An Employee Goes On Long-term Disability?

Last updated: December 23, 2023

Navigating the uncertain waters of life, we often encounter unexpected challenges. An unforeseen hurdle could be a severe illness or injury that causes a prolonged absence from work, known as long-term disability.

This article aims to shed light on the journey an employee undertakes when faced with long-term disability. Read on to learn more about the importance, process, and rights necessary.

What is Long-Term Disability?

Long-term disability (LTD) refers to extended absence from work due to a debilitating illness or injury that prevents an employee from performing their duties. This period typically extends beyond the scope of short-term disability or sick leave provisions.

Why is Long-Term Disability Important?

Regarding long-term disability, two key considerations are financial security and the individual's health and well-being.

Financial Security

Imagine waking up one day and being unable to work, coupled with the stress of potentially losing your income. Sounds tough, doesn't it? This is where long-term disability insurance plays a vital role. It provides a percentage of your income during the disability period, offering some financial stability.

Health and Well-being

Being able to focus on recovery without the worry of financial fallout is crucial for health and well-being. LTD provides this peace of mind, allowing the individual to focus on rehabilitation.

The Process of Going on Long-Term Disability

Going on LTD is not an overnight process. It involves recognizing the need, applying, and then a waiting period.

Recognizing the Need

The first step is to acknowledge the necessity of long-term disability leave. This requires open and honest conversations with medical professionals and personal introspection.

Applying for Long-Term Disability

Once the need is recognized, the employee must apply for LTD, typically through their employer's insurance provider. This process often involves substantial paperwork, including medical records and proof of inability to work.

The Waiting Period

After applying, there is typically a waiting period while the application is reviewed and approved. This timeframe can vary significantly depending on the specific case and insurance provider.

The Implications of Long-Term Disability

Being on LTD leads to significant changes in one's life, both in terms of job status and financial circumstances, along with social and psychological impacts.

Changes to Job Status

Depending on the employer and jurisdiction, an employee’s job may or may not be secure during the disability period. Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act provide some protection, but understanding one's rights and employer's policies is critical.

Financial Implications

While LTD insurance provides some income, it typically doesn't match the employee's full salary. This change in income can lead to a shift in lifestyle and financial planning.

Social and Psychological Impact

Being out of the workforce for an extended period can lead to feelings of isolation and affect mental health. Adequate support and resources are key during this period.

Rights and Responsibilities of an Employee on Long-Term Disability

Employees on LTD have rights to privacy and non-discrimination and a responsibility to inform.

Privacy and Non-Discrimination

Laws protect employees from discrimination based on their disability status and ensure their privacy concerning medical information.

Reasonable Accommodation

Employees have the right to request reasonable accommodation to assist their return to work, such as changes to their working hours or environment.

Duty to Inform

Employees must keep their employer informed about their condition and estimated return date.

How to Navigate Long-Term Disability

Navigating LTD is about preparation, seeking professional advice, and prioritizing self-care and wellness.

Preparing for the Shift

The transition to LTD can be challenging. Being prepared, both mentally and financially, is crucial.

Seeking Professional Advice

Engaging with financial advisors, legal experts, and medical practitioners can help ensure all bases are covered.

Self-Care and Wellness Strategies

Taking care of physical health and emotional well-being is essential during this period. This may involve strategies like physical therapy, counseling, and staying socially connected.


  1. What percentage of my income will long-term disability insurance cover?

The percentage varies depending on the specific policy, but it's typically between 60% and 80% of your pre-disability income.

  1. Do all employers offer long-term disability insurance?

No, not all employers offer this benefit. It's important to understand your employer's policies or consider a private insurance plan if necessary.

  1. What happens to my job when I go on long-term disability?

Your job may or may not be secure, depending on jurisdiction and employer policies. It's crucial to understand your rights and protections.

  1. Can I work while on long-term disability?

This depends on the terms of your disability policy. Some policies may allow for partial disability benefits if you can work part-time.

  1. Is mental illness covered under long-term disability?

Yes, many LTD policies cover mental illnesses, although the specifics can vary between policies.


Going on long-term disability is a significant life event that affects various aspects of an individual's life. Understanding the process, rights, and responsibilities can help employees navigate this challenging journey more effectively. The key is to prioritize health and well-being while also ensuring financial stability through long-term disability benefits.

If you’re wondering whether you need short term disability or not, read through our blogs to get a clearer answer.

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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