5 Key Resources for Workers Recovering From a Disabling Injury or Illness

by Amanda Meadows on 29 May 2015 (0 comments)

Have you ever wondered what you would do if an accidental injury or illness kept you from working? May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, and the perfect time to educate yourself about the resources available if you need time away from work to recover from an injury or illness. 

Essential Disability Claim Info and Resources

After the initial life changes that may follow an unexpected injury or illness, making your way through the disability insurance claim process can seem daunting.

First, read your plan's terms and conditions. If you have questions, call your disability benefits company right away. Second, be aware of all timetables. There may be a waiting period between when the accident occurs and when you can start receiving payments. Third, take advantage of any benefits offered by your plan, which may include vocational coaches or case managers who can work with you to develop a plan for your return to health and to work.

Disability Income Needs Calculator

A common question people ask is "will I be able to live on my disability income?" The answer varies from person to person. For example, plans may offer coverage for 50 to 60 percent of your salary.

Your first course of action should be to determine your budget and add up your expenses. To help you do this, use a free income needs calculator to add up your core expenses: rent or mortgage, bills, food, and any other essentials. Make sure that disability payments will cover most, if not all, of these costs.

Talk with your family early on to prepare for any changes you may need to make to your monthly budget. Educate yourself on government programs such as Social Security Insurance or temporary disability, which vary from state to state. Also, be sure your disability benefits company receives all necessary documentation from your doctor throughout your disability leave.

Stress Management Resources

Don't wait until an unexpected accident to improve your quality of life. The mental and physical impact of a sudden event, the process of filing a disability claim, plus the journey of rehabilitation, can all take a toll on your physical and mental health. Having the tools to manage stress well is useful in all circumstances.

Take time to care for yourself. When experiencing stress or anxiety over your condition, focus on what is stressful and identify which aspects of your condition you can control. It's helpful to discuss this lifestyle change with your boss, co-workers, spouse and friends.

Reach out to your disability benefits company to learn more about available resources. Some plans offer employee assistance programs, which can include access to behavioral health services. Others may include vocational coaches, whose job is to help you define your return to health plan and encourage you to reach your goals.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

What happens when your recovery leads to a return to work? You may be eligible for a vocational rehabilitation program and other return to work services if they are offered by your employer or your disability benefits company. These services are customized to meet each individual’s needs and help them return to work safely. The first step is to listen to your doctor. Many people are anxious to return to work, but going too fast can result in a setback in your recovery.

If rehabilitation is successful, a vocational coach will evaluate your condition. In most cases, an individual can return to the same job. However, in long-term disability cases, employees may need to look at a new job. It's possible that you might return to work part-time, depending on your situation.

What if you aren't ready to return to work after all? If you have not yet recovered enough to be approved for a return to work, reinstatement of disability benefits is possible. You will need to submit regular medical evidence of your disability to retain eligibility. Your claim manager will walk you through this process. Please be responsive and make sure your doctor is getting your disability benefits company exactly what they need.

Return to Work Services

Vocational rehabilitation services typically don't end on the first day back at work. Vocational assistance services can also be available to you during the transition back to work. You might continue your physical rehabilitation the first several weeks or months. During that time, you may need workplace accommodations or an adjusted schedule. Vocational coaches can walk you through that process and help work with your employer.

Stay flexible in more ways than one: Keep yourself physically strong with regular exercise, and use your newfound skills in stress management to keep your mind positive and nimble. Avoid focusing on aspects of recovery you may not be able to control. Keep communication lines open between you, your doctor, and your employer.

Which resources do you recommend for those recovering from an injury or illness?

This article is sponsored by Cigna. Visit Cigna.com for more great resources for workers recovering from disabilityThis article is for educational purposes only and is intended to promote consumer health. It is not intended as financial or medical advice and you should always consult a professional for financial or medical advice. 

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5 Key Resources for Workers Recovering From a Disabling Injury or Illness

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Guest's picture

Great post, this is really helpful. Being injured on the job is bad enough, but not having any idea what to do next definitely makes the situation much worse.