The time of COVID-19 has been filled with anxiety for many people. This may be even more so for people with underlying health conditions. The data seems clear that those with underlying health problems are at a particularly heightened risk to suffer some potentially severe and even life-threatening symptoms due to COVID-19. Due to this heightened risk, the CDC and other health organizations have emphasized the importance of high-risk individuals to remain as socially distanced as possible and, when this is unavoidable, to wear a face mask and wash hands often as well as remaining as spaced apart from others as much as possible. Due to the risk of COVID-19, many employers have made accommodations such as allowing employees to work more from home. What about those high-risk individuals who do not have this option? Must they go to work in order to maintain their income stream? Or are there other options such as accessing short or long-term disability benefits?
If I am High Risk for COVID-19, Can I Get Short Term Disability Benefits?
If you are high risk for COVID-19, it is likely that you will want to avoid public spaces as much as possible. This will likely include not wanting to leave the house to go to work. A workplace may very well be a contained space with coworkers and clients present. You do not know if these people are taking CDC COVID-19 precautions seriously or if they are practicing social distancing. With the threat of COVID-19 being so significant, especially to those high risk individuals, it may seem as if they have no other option than to stay home from work until the pandemic passes.
The fact of the matter is that those at high risk for COVID-19 may be able to access short term disability benefits, but it all depends on the language used in the short term disability policy. The majority of both short term and long term disability plans require you to show that you are unable to work due to illness or a disabling health condition. While actually contracting COVID-19 should make it easy to show that you are unable to work due to illness, the benefits will likely be limited to only a few weeks. If you are a high risk individual who is quarantining but do not actually have COVID-19, things get more complicated.
When you are seeking short term disability benefits because you are high risk and avoiding exposure to COVID-19, you really need to examine the definition of “illness” under the terms of your disability insurance policy. You will likely need to focus on explaining to your insurer that you are at a higher risk of serious infection if exposed to COVID-19. You may be granted benefits on this basis. In the alternative, you may end up being denied due to the policy not covering future risk or possible loss.
COVID-19 has placed high-risk individuals in a particularly difficult position. Those at high risk that are required to go into the workplace to continue their employment obligations seem to be in an impossible situation. They either go to work and face potentially devastating health consequences due to COVID-19, or they stay home and lose the ability to financially support themselves. If you are in this situation, talk to the attorneys at Disability Advocates about your options. You may be able to access short term disability benefits. Contact us today.