ASK A LAWYER: Substance Abuse and LTD Claims

After a very bad car accident in 2009, I developed an addiction to a prescription painkiller. I am currently seeking medical help. Unfortunately, my addiction affected my performance at work and I was terminated by my employer. I never got the chance to file for disability benefits and I currently have no source of income. What are my options?

Even though you were terminated from your job, you may still be able to claim disability benefits if are able to obtain medical evidence that you were disabled from performing your job as a result of your addiction. This may be difficult in circumstances where you have never reported any medical conditions to your employer as generally speaking, the claim for disability benefits should be made while you are still an active employee. Depending on the circumstances leading up to your dismissal, this is something that could be looked into. If you find yourself in this situation, you should not delay seeking legal advice from a disability lawyer that is also familiar with the employment aspects of this type of a claim.

One other point is that if the Car Accident case is still open, you should discuss whether you may be able to claim for loss of income as a result of this termination of employment, even though it occurred many years after the accident in question. If your car accident case has already been settled, it would be too late to raise the issue. Consult with a lawyer experienced in motor vehicle accidents to discuss this specific point.

My insurance carrier provides group benefits at my job. When I was in rehab and couldn’t work, I applied

for long-term disability but they argued that I am not really disabled, even though my addiction affected by ability to function day-to-day. Is there any way to fight this?

Most Group Disability Benefit Policies do not specifically preclude a claim for disability based on an addiction. Most policies do have requirements for you to be engaged in appropriate treatment and specifically with respect to an addiction, a rehabilitation program aimed at addressing the addiction, but a denial of benefits solely on the basis that an addiction is not really a disability is something that can be challenged. The specific facts of each case must be reviewed to determine the possibility of successfully pursuing benefits or a settlement, but it is something that should definitely be looked into.SP

“The root of all health is in the brain. The trunk of it is in emotion. The branches and leaves are the body. The flower of health blooms when all parts work together.”

~Kurdish Saying