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Can I Make a Disability Claim if My Job is Threatened by Coronavirus Layoffs?

By Mark Scherzer, Esq. (Law Office of Mark Scherzer)

Have you been struggling to work despite a disabling condition that has adversely affected your ability to do your job?  Do you now fear that your job may be terminated due to an imminent Covid-19-related layoff or reduction in force?  If so, this may be an important time to consider whether you ought to stop working and make a claim under your individually-purchased disability insurance policy and/or your employer’s group short and long-term disability plans.

It is not uncommon for an employee with a disabling condition to stay at work long after job performance has diminished and the employee is no longer fulfilling all of the job’s important duties.  Some duties may have been shifted to other employees.  Or the employer may have overlooked decreased performance due to the employee’s length of service, or loyalty to the company.  Or the employee may have implemented accommodations (such as taking naps in a closed office, working longer hours, using a special assistive device, or relying on increasing pain medications) to power through the medical condition, but those accommodations are now failing.  In a strong economy, these sorts of accommodations and considerations may be sufficient for the employee to keep his or her job.  But in the face of a shaky economy — such as is currently happening in response to the coronavirus pandemic — the employee may be first in line for company-wide layoffs and reductions in force.

Making a disability claim in the face of an actual (or threatened) layoff is possible, but such claims can be extremely complex to navigate.  A consultation with one of our attorneys may be appropriate now to determine whether you might be considered disabled under the terms of your disability policy, whether this is the time to initiate a disability claim, and, if so, assist with preparing your claim paperwork.


Mark Scherzer is a New York health, life and disability claim lawyer with nearly 40 years’ experience handling claims arising under employer-sponsored short and long term disability plans governed by ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act).

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