My Employer is Pressuring Me to Return to Work or Resign. How Will My Disability Insurance Benefits be Affected?

If you have been absent from work for an extended period of time due to an illness or disability, you may be feeling bullied by your insurance company and your employer to return to work–but what if you’re still sick?

Many employees who are on long-term disability are put between a rock and a hard place when their employers threaten to terminate them if they do not return to work by a certain date. To makes things worse, insurance companies may also threaten to cut you off benefits if you fail to comply with their return-to-work programs.

If you return to work when you aren’t ready, your disability will likely prevent you from performing the duties of your job, as it had in the past, and may aggravate your condition. It may then put you at risk of being dismissed due to poor job performance. Dismissal may also take you off the group insurance benefits provided by your employer, stopping your LTD benefits automatically.

As well, if you try to return to work before you’re ready and fail to continue, it will be much harder to re-apply for long-term disability benefits, as the insurer may claim that if you were well enough to work for a period of time you cannot, therefore, be totally disabled from their own occupation.

If, on the other hand, you choose to ignore the return-to-work deadline, you risk dismissal under the “frustration of contract” or “workplace abandonment” argument, which will not only cut off your health benefits, but will also take away the option of returning to your job if your health improves.

Protect yourself against workplace dismissal as much as you can by keeping in contact with your employer as your condition changes, and respond to all return-to-work requests in a timely, professional manner–even if the response is that your doctor does not recommend that you work at this time.

Many disabled employees find the pressure from their insurance company and employer so distressing that they choose to resign, but resigning can also put your long-term disability benefits at risk.

The bottom line is that your employer should not put pressure on you to resign or return to work if you are disabled. Before making any decisions about your employment status that could affect your disability insurance, it is recommended that you speak with a lawyer experienced in the area of disability litigation and workplace dismissal, especially if you have a return-to-work deadline looming.

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