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When Does Long Term Disability Start?

Last updated: October 10, 2023

Long term disability insurance is a type of coverage that protects you from loss of income in the event that you're unable to work for a prolonged period due to an illness, injury, or accident. It typically covers a percentage of your income and is designed to kick in once short-term disability benefits have run out.

Who Can Apply For Long Term Disability Insurance

Generally, anyone who is working can apply for long term disability insurance. This can be provided through an employer as part of a benefits package, or it can be purchased individually.

When Does Long Term Disability Insurance Begin

The start of long term disability insurance varies depending on the specifics of your policy and the nature of your disability. Usually, it begins after a pre-determined waiting period, often called an elimination period, which can range from 30 to 90 days or even longer.

Factors Affecting the Start Date of Long Term Disability

The Elimination Period

The elimination period is a set amount of time that must pass after becoming disabled and before benefits begin to be paid. This is a waiting period and could be likened to a deductible in other insurance policies.

Company Policies

Different insurance companies have varying policies regarding the start of long term disability. It's crucial to review these specifics before signing up for a policy.

How Long Can Long Term Disability Last

Long term disability benefits, acting as a financial safeguard, can last several years or until your disability ends. Coverage typically continues up to age 65, depending on your policy's stipulations. 

Some policies may alter the definition of disability after a period, affecting benefit continuation. It's essential to understand your policy's details and have a contingency plan for long-term financial stability.

Filing for Long Term Disability

The Application Process

Applying for long term disability involves submitting a claim to your insurance provider. This usually includes filling out specific forms and providing medical evidence of your disability.

Necessary Documentation

It's critical to have all necessary documentation when filing for long term disability. This may include medical records, a statement from your employer, and any other relevant information.

Tips for a Successful Long Term Disability Claim

  • Understand Your Policy: Know your policy's specifics, including benefits, start time, and duration. This knowledge aids in managing expectations. 

  • Maintain Medical Records: Keep a comprehensive record of all medical treatments received, including doctor's appointments, medications, and therapy sessions. 

  • Prompt Response: Ensure timely responses to all requests from your insurance provider. Delays can lead to prolonged processing times and potential claim denial.  

  • Continuous Communication: Regularly communicate with your healthcare providers about your condition and ensure they provide accurate, up-to-date reports to your insurance.

  • Hire a Lawyer if Needed: If the process becomes overwhelming, hiring a lawyer specializing in disability claims can provide beneficial guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does the elimination period typically last?

The elimination period can range from 30 to 90 days, or sometimes even longer, depending on the policy.

2. Can I apply for long term disability insurance if I'm self-employed?

Yes, self-employed individuals can purchase individual policies.

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

This varies by policy, but it typically ranges from 50% to 80% of your pre-disability income.

4. How can I ensure a successful long term disability claim?

It's important to understand your policy, keep a detailed record of your medical treatments, and respond promptly to requests from your insurance provider.

5. Does long term disability cover mental health issues?

Some policies do cover mental health conditions, but the specifics vary greatly between policies. It's crucial to review the details of your policy.


Understanding when long term disability starts is crucial in managing your finances and ensuring a steady flow of income when you cannot work. While it might seem daunting, knowing the ins and outs of your policy, along with diligent preparation, can make the process more manageable.

To learn more about work-related injuries and illnesses, read through our comprehensive guides at Disability Help.

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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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