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Disability benefits can come from a few different sources. If your disability insurance is paid through your work, you might be entitled to certain protections that keep you from losing your job. Other disability programs, like the SSDI program paid by the Social Security Administration, may not have these same job protections. Our Fayetteville AR disability lawyer explains whether your job is protected when you are on long term disability in Arkansas.
Will I Lose My Job if I Collect Disability?
There are a few different programs that might potentially be called “disability.” The primary program commonly called “disability” is the SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) program. This program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), a part of the U.S. Government. Other potential ways to get benefits for a disability would be through work-sponsored programs like workers’ compensation or long-term disability insurance.
Typically, disability through SSDI is unrelated to your work. You can claim these benefits regardless of how you were injured or whether the qualifying disability you suffer from was related to your job at all. Many disability applicants file claims for coverage for illnesses like cancer, congestive heart failure, and other serious, life-threatening illnesses as opposed to work-related injuries. Because this is not necessarily related to your job, there are typically no requirements to keep your job open. Moreover, disability applicants typically must prove that they are unable to work and that the disability will last for over a year or end in their death. Especially if the worker is expected to be disabled until the end of their life, there may be no expectation that the employer would keep their job open.
For work-sponsored programs, the rules may be different. Depending on the policy and rules surrounding that policy, long-term disability insurance may be required to keep your job open. These requirements may also change depending on the injury.
Workers’ comp. similarly depends on the injury. Usually, a short-term disability should guarantee you can return to work after recovering from the injury. This means that temporary disabilities and permanent disabilities that might allow you to return to work with modified job tasks should require your boss to keep a position for you at work.
In some cases, your employer will be allowed to fire you or ask you to retire if your injury is going to keep you out of the workforce entirely. For instance, permanent disabilities that are not expected to improve over time might allow your boss to fire you or replace you at work. Talk to a lawyer if you think you are being forced to retire because of an injury, and your lawyer can help guide you through the protections you may have.
What Happens to My Job When I Collect Injury Benefits?
In most cases where your job is protected when you go on disability or workers’ compensation, your specific position might not be protected. If you are the only person that does your job, your employer might have no choice but to hire a temp or find a new full-time worker to replace you. However, your boss still might need to give you a job when you come back from your workplace injury.
In many cases, an employer can give you another job with comparable wages instead of your specific position. In most cases, this is done to help you rather than hurt you. For example, an employer might fill your position while you are out because of your injury, but then give you a simpler job with less physical demands when you come back. This kind of accommodation is usually used to help you get back to work and avoid reinjury, not to try to cut your pay.
If your injury makes it difficult to go back to work, but your disability or injury has ended, you might need to go back to work with modified job tasks. Accommodations to help lighten the physical labor might be necessary, and your boss should work with you on these issues. If they do not make accommodations, they may be violating disability laws and could open themselves up to a lawsuit.
Under many systems, such as workers’ compensation, your boss may be able to give you a lower-paying job when you return. If this happens because of your disability, they may be required to pay you some of the difference between your wages from before the injury and your current, lower wages. If they give you a lower paying job even though you are healed and ready to return to your old job, this could be a violation of workers’ compensation law that you should speak to a lawyer about.
Call Our Fayetteville Workers’ Comp. and Disability Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation
If you were injured and had to take time off of work, you may be entitled to various benefits while you recover and deal with your injuries and disabilities. Under some of these programs, your boss might be required to keep your position open or offer you a comparable position when you return to work, and pushing you into retirement or underpaying you when you come back might be illegal. Talk to an experienced workers’ comp. and disability lawyer for help with your case and your return to work after an injury. For a free legal consultation on your case, call Fayetteville workers’ comp. lawyer Ken Kieklak today at (479) 316-0438.
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