Optometrist Disability Attorneys
As an optometrist, you work hard to help your patients and earn a living, but what happens when a sudden injury or illness prevents you from working? You still have bills to pay when you’re sick or injured, and it could be weeks, months, or even years before you can work again. There’s also the possibility that a disability could permanently prevent you from returning to your practice or force you to find a new living.
Disability insurance policies and government benefits can help if you develop a disability as an optometrist, but obtaining the benefits you need can prove to be a challenging, confusing, and time-consuming endeavor. At Abell and Capitan Law, our optometrist disability attorneys want to help you secure the benefits you need to take care of your needs during this difficult chapter of your life. Disability claims are our firm’s core practice area, and our attorneys have helped workers in many industries obtain the money they need to pay for their medical bills and other expenses. From our offices in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, we proudly represent those in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New Jersey with their long-term and short-term disability cases. Call us at (267) 419-7888 today or fill out our contact form to speak with an experienced and dedicated optometrist disability lawyer.
Disability Benefits for Optometrists
One of the services we offer to disabled optometrists is explaining what benefits could be available to them. Depending on what state you live in and other factors, your disability benefits may include:
- Short-term disability insurance – Your optometry office might offer short-term disability insurance to employees and partners, or you may have purchased an individual disability policy yourself. Short-term disability insurance policies cover a set percentage of lost income for three to six months, though the specifics vary. Importantly, short-term disability insurance is separate from workers’ compensation, which most employers must provide for their employees. Workers’ compensation provides partial wage-replacement benefits for disabled employees, but only for work-related injuries or illnesses. Short-term disability insurance covers any eligible injury or illness, regardless of whether the injury or illness is related to the worker’s job. Most states do not require employers to offer short-term disability insurance to workers, though California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island do. Puerto Rico also has regulations that provide employees with up to 26 weeks of disability benefits for injuries and illnesses that are not work-related.
- Long-term disability insurance – Many employers offer long-term disability insurance policies to their workers, though you can also purchase an individual policy. Long-term disability insurance typically covers a percentage of lost income for extended periods longer than the three to six months covered by short-term disability policies. Many policies cover lost income until the covered party can return to work or reaches retirement age. Some long-term disability insurance policies will also cover the cost of training or rehabilitation to help the worker find a new job if they can’t return to their old one. Currently, no states require employers to provide long-term disability insurance to their employers.
- Social Security disability insurance – The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits for workers who meet certain requirements. The most common type of Social Security disability benefits is Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. SSDI benefits are available to “insured” workers who have earned enough work credits and meet the SSA’s definition of disability. In general, you cannot claim SSDI benefits unless your disability is terminal, has already lasted 12 months, or is expected to last at least 12 months. The SSA also offers Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to people who meet certain income criteria, regardless of their work history.
Challenges Optometrists Encounter When Seeking Disability Benefits
While every disability case is different, there are a handful of common issues we see when optometrists try to claim their benefits, such as:
- Definition of disability – Different insurance companies and government agencies define disability differently, which can affect which benefits and what type of insurance coverage you qualify for.
- “Own occupation” vs. “any occupation” policies – Many short-term and long-term disability policies include language saying the coverage ends when the covered worker can return to any suitable job that fits their education and background. Insurance companies call these policies “any occupation” policies, and they’re distinct from “own occupation” policies, which continue coverage until the worker can return to their specific job. An “any occupation” policy could force you off disability insurance before you’re able to resume practicing optometry, impacting your long-term career prospects.
- Insurance companies misinterpreting their policies – Short-term and long-term disability policies often include complex terms and language, which means that an insurance company might misinterpret its own policy. Without help from someone who knows the ins and outs of complicated insurance rules, it can be difficult to resolve these disputes.
How Optometrist Disability Attorneys Can Help
If you’re an optometrist and you need help with a disability dispute, our attorneys can help by:
- Reviewing and explaining your benefits and coverage – We can go through all your benefits, insurance coverage, and the applicable laws that apply to your situation. That way, we can figure out what benefits you qualify for and how to obtain them.
- Filing the initial paperwork – One way to avoid issues with a disability claim later on is to verify that your application forms and other documentation is correct before submitting it. Our disability lawyers can manage this paperwork on your behalf to reduce the chances of any issues with your claim.
- Gathering evidence to support your claim – We can collect your medical records and other evidence to show you meet the definition of disability and demonstrate how your injury or illness keeps you from working.
- Handling appeals – If a government agency or insurance company denies your claim, we can file an appeal on your behalf to continue pursuing the the benefits you need.
- Filing a lawsuit – The only way to secure your rightful benefits might be to take your case to court. We can plan a strategy, gather evidence to substantiate your claim, and take care of all the legal procedures in your case.
Our Optometrist Disability Attorneys Are Ready to Defend Your Rights
We know how demoralizing and painful a disability can be, and we want to help you seek the benefits you need during this challenging moment. Call (267) 419-7888 today or fill out our online form to speak with one of our capable attorneys.