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Taking Classes, Volunteering, or Online Selling While on Long Term Disability

volunteering and long term disability

Navigating the waters of long term disability (“LTD”) can be a complex and often daunting process, especially when considering engaging in activities like taking classes, volunteering, or selling products online.  These pursuits, while enriching and potentially beneficial for mental health and self-esteem, carry a multitude of considerations for individuals on LTD.  If not handled correctly, you could face a denial or termination of benefits from your insurance company.

This article aims to explore the delicate balance between maintaining LTD benefits and pursuing activities that can enhance your quality of life.  Whether you are considering expanding your knowledge through education, giving back to the community, or supplementing your income, understanding the implications on your LTD status is crucial for making informed decisions.


Can I Take Classes, Volunteer, Sell Online While on Long Term Disability?

It may be possible to take classes, volunteer, or sell online while on long term disability (“LTD”), but the answer will depend on the specific terms of your disability insurance policy.

Here are some general points to consider:

  • Taking Classes: Generally, taking classes may be permitted under a long term disability policy, especially if the classes are not related to preparing for employment.  However, if the classes are job training or could be construed as steps towards returning to work, your insurance provider may view this as an indication that you are able to work, which could affect your benefits.

  • Volunteering: Volunteering can be a tricky area.  Some disability policies may allow you to volunteer, as long as the activity does not indicate that you are able to return to paid employment.  However, if the volunteer work is similar to your previous job or involves physical or cognitive tasks that you claimed you are unable to perform due to your disability, your benefits could be jeopardized.

  • Selling Online: Engaging in any form of work, including selling items online, may be seen as proof of your ability to work.  If the income or activity level from online selling is significant, your insurance company may determine that you are not fully disabled and could reduce or terminate your benefits.

In all cases, it’s crucial to review the terms of your long term disability insurance policy.  Some policies may have specific clauses about these activities, and failing to adhere to these rules can result in the loss of benefits.  To get the most accurate advice, consider discussing your situation with an experienced long term disability attorney.


How Can These Activities Impact My Long Term Disability Claim?

Engaging in educational pursuits, volunteering, or selling online while receiving long term disability benefits can have various impacts on your claim.  It’s important to understand the potential risks and consequences.

  • Educational Pursuits: Taking classes, especially those that are physically or mentally demanding, may be seen as evidence that you have a greater functional capacity than what you’ve claimed.  If the coursework is related to employment skills, it may suggest to your insurance company that you are preparing to re-enter the workforce.  Some policies may specifically address educational activities.  It’s essential to review these terms to understand any limitations or reporting requirements associated with educational pursuits.

  • Volunteering: If the volunteer work resembles your previous employment or involves tasks that you’ve stated you’re unable to perform due to your disability, this could be interpreted as evidence that you are not fully disabled.  The amount of time and energy you commit to volunteering can also be a factor.  If you’re able to volunteer for many hours or engage in physically or cognitively demanding tasks, your insurance company may question the severity of your disability.

  • Selling Online: Earning income through online sales can be seen as proof of your ability to work.  This is especially significant if the income is substantial or if the activity resembles a full-time job.  Running an online business, even a small one, often requires a range of skills and abilities that might conflict with your stated limitations due to disability.

Educational pursuits, volunteering, or online selling while receiving long term disability benefits carry serious potential risks regarding your claim.  Engaging in such activities might be interpreted by your insurance company as evidence of improved health or an increased ability to work, which could conflict with the terms of your disability policy. 

These perceptions, whether accurate or not, can lead to your insurance company reassessing your claim and potentially deciding to deny or terminate your LTD benefits.  This is why it’s imperative to not only understand the specific terms and conditions of your disability policy but also to consult with an experienced long term disability attorney when considering any of these activities.


Are There Reporting Requirements for Taking Classes, Volunteering, or Online Selling While on Long Term Disability?

Reporting Requirements for Taking Classes, Volunteering, or Online Selling While on Long Term Disability

When on long term disability, there are often reporting requirements for any activities that could potentially impact your disability status, such as taking classes, volunteering, or engaging in online selling.

Your insurance company needs to know about any activities that might affect your claim.  Reporting to them is crucial as they determine the continuation of your benefits based on your reported capabilities and activities, and failing to keep your insurance informed can lead to disputes over your eligibility for benefits.

Ideally, you should report these activities to your insurance company before you start them or as soon as you begin.  Accurate and timely reporting helps demonstrate to your insurance company that you are adhering to the terms of your policy.  If your insurance company discovers unreported activities, they may question the validity of your claim.  If the activities are ongoing, regular updates may be necessary, especially if there are significant changes in the nature or extent of the activities.

Reporting these activities can also work in your favor by documenting the extent of your capabilities.  For example, if you are taking classes or volunteering in a limited and specific manner that aligns with your disability, this can help to underscore the limitations you still face.

If these activities are significant changes in your routine or could affect your health, informing your healthcare providers is also advisable.  They may need to reassess your health status and update any medical reports submitted to your insurance provider. 

Additionally, if you have an ERISA attorney assisting with your disability claim, keeping them informed is essential.  They can provide guidance on how to report these activities to your insurance company and help mitigate the potential implications for your claim.


What Steps Can I Take to Ensure My Activities Don’t Jeopardize My Long Term Disability Benefits?

To ensure that your activities don’t jeopardize your long term disability benefits, it’s important to navigate carefully and make informed decisions.  Here are some steps to consider:

  • Understand Your Policy: Thoroughly read your disability insurance policy, focusing on clauses related to permissible activities and reporting requirements.  If any part of the policy language is unclear, consider consulting with a long term disability attorney who can explain your policy terms.

  • Consult Professionals: Consider consulting with a lawyer with experience in disability insurance.  They can provide guidance specific to your situation.  You should also discuss your plans with your healthcare provider(s), as their input on how these activities align with your health status can be crucial.

  • Document Everything: Maintain detailed records of your activities, including hours spent, nature of the tasks, and any income earned.  Ensure your medical records are up to date and reflect your current condition and symptoms.

  • Understand the Nature of Your Activities: Ensure that your activities are in line with the limitations specified in your disability claim.  Make sure to avoid activities that directly contradict the reasons for your disability claim.

  • Stay Within Income Limits: If your policy has income limits for supplemental earnings while on disability, make sure your income from activities like online selling stays within these limits.

  • Regularly Review Your Health Status: Regularly assess whether your activities are affecting your health and if they are sustainable in light of your disability.

Balancing activities while on long term disability requires a careful approach.  Staying informed and seeking guidance from a long term disability attorney are key strategies to manage this effectively.  Remember, each situation is unique, so tailor these steps to fit your specific circumstances and policy requirements.


How Can The Maddox Firm Help With My Disability Claim?

The Maddox Firm | Long Term Disability & ERISA

The Maddox Firm has helped hundreds of clients successfully secure their long term disability benefits.  We understand how to assist you navigating educational pursuits, volunteering, or online selling without jeopardizing your long term disability claim.

Here’s how The Maddox Firm can assist with your long term disability claim:

  • We Examine Your Policy: The Maddox Firm begins by thoroughly reviewing your long term disability (“LTD”) policy to understand its nuances and restrictions.  For example, if you’re considering taking online courses, we assess whether your policy has specific provisions regarding educational pursuits.  We then evaluate how these activities might impact your claim.  We ensure that you have a clear understanding of what is permissible under your policy, helping you avoid any actions that could be misconstrued as an improvement in your ability to work.

  • We Handle All Communications with Your Insurance Company: Navigating communications with insurance companies can be daunting.  Our firm takes on this responsibility, ensuring all communications are accurate and strategically framed.  For instance, if you want to volunteer, we communicate this to your insurance company, clarifying how this activity aligns with your current medical limitations and does not signify an ability to return to work.  This proactive approach can prevent misunderstandings and protect your benefits.

  • We Help You Obtain Evidence to Support Your Claim: Maintaining LTD benefits often requires ongoing proof of disability.  If you’re engaged in any activity, like selling products online, we help gather evidence demonstrating that this does not contradict your disability claim.  This might involve obtaining detailed statements from your doctors or vocational experts, indicating that your online activities are within your physical and cognitive limitations and do not reflect an ability to perform regular work duties.

  • We Help You Make Informed Decisions About Educational Pursuits, Volunteering, or Online Selling: We provide tailored advice on how to engage in activities without jeopardizing your LTD benefits.  For example, if you’re interested in taking a class, we advise on how to choose courses that won’t be viewed as vocational training or preparation for re-entry into the workforce.  Our goal is to help you make choices that enrich your life without risking your benefits.

  • We Handle Appeals and Litigation: If your LTD benefits are unjustly denied or terminated due to your involvement in these activities, The Maddox Firm is prepared to appeal and, if necessary, litigate on your behalf.  For instance, if your insurer terminates your benefits citing your volunteer work as evidence of work capacity, we’re ready to challenge this decision.  We gather comprehensive evidence to show that your activities are consistent with your disability, appealing the decision and representing you in court if needed.

Whether you are looking for assistance in navigating the short term disability or long term disability claims process, appealing a claim denial, or litigating a final adverse short term or long term disability decision, The Maddox Firm can help.  The experienced team at The Maddox Firm will examine your insurance policy, correspondence from your insurance company, medical records, and any other relevant documentation in order to give you personalized guidance on how we can help you win your short and/or long term disability claim. Our New Jersey and New York long term disability attorneys help clients nationwide.




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