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Can you work in a different occupation while collecting disability income payments?

Yes, if your policy has an “own occupation” definition of disability, you can work in a different occupation while collecting disability income benefits. However, the duties of your new occupation must be substantially and materially different.

There are 23 opinions so far. Add your comment now.

Kevin McLaughlin:

I am being encouraged to go onto the working disabled program to get better programs at my HMO. I have been on Long Term Disability with MetLife since 1988. Willl going onto one of these California working disabled programs cause trouble with my MetLife plan?

Thank You,

Attorney Greg Dell:


Since we have not had the opportunity to see your MetLife disability plan, it is impossible for us to answer this question. Generally speaking, if you earn any income, then it is likely that the income will offset the amount that MetLife has been paying you. Some MetLife LTD policies have a work incentive provision that allows you to work in a limited capacity and still collect either a reduced disability benefit amount or the entire benefit amount. As soon as you indicate to MetLife that you may be able to work, it will open up a can of worms.

Patricia McEwen:


I ended up on my LTD that I paid into through my employer due to being out with several surgeries, breast cancer, etc.. During which time I was also diagnosed with Lupus and RA. I am struggling with the acceptance within my own self that I cannot work anymore. I suffer dearly with any activity no matter how hard I try to strengthen myself. My LTD reads that if you were put on LT before the age of 60 maximum payment time is to the age of 65.

With that said, If my doctor concludes that I cannot return to work, does it have to be any work, or just that job?

My employer notified me that I will have to apply for SS, my policy states that they will not offset the amount until I am approved. And will owe back the overpaid amount. Does my policy have to pay me until the age of 65? Am I and will I be able to count on this income as long as I am medically declared unable to work?

I went to the gym to see if I could strengthen myself, I feel very paranoid I am being spied on. Just because I am in the gym trying. Does not mean that I do not suffer a huge set back that same day, and days after. Can this cause me to lose my benefits?

Im trying to see how much income I know I can rely on and for how long. Thank you all so much for your time and support to all of us.

Attorney Greg Dell:


You have asked a few questions.

1) The definition of disability in your policy will determine if you must be disabled from your pre-disability job or any job. You need to read your policy for the answer to this question.

2) If the disability company follows you to the gym and sees you doing exercise it would not be shocking for them to try to deny your benefits. If your doctor recommends that you go the gym as therapy then you should not have a problem. You do not need to be bedridden in order to collect disability.

If you would like assistance with handling your claim on a monthly basis, please contact us to discuss your options.

Fay Jay:

If you are on medical disability, and you try to work on a very limited basis, can you be denied disability?

Attorney Greg Dell:


The answer to this question depends on the language of your disability policy. A lot of disability insurance policies will allow you to work in a limited capacity and still receive benefits.

Steve Stoch:


I receive a disability pension and I have a doctor’s prescription note to exercise my legs due to poor balance and weak limbs. I walk on a treadmill and lift some weights to prevent falls and help coordination in the gym but yet I am so nervous that I will be “caught on tape” person collecting disability yet able to exercise in a gym. These news programs and media have been using disabled people to agitate their viewers. Please help me with this anxiety.
Thank you, Steve Stoch

Attorney Stephen Jessup:


If I could relieve your anxiety, I certainly would, but unfortunately no one can completely put your mind at ease. A disability carrier (or other similar entity) could definitely attempt to use any video surveillance against you. That being said, you are following your doctor’s orders, and I would wager that the policy/pension requires you to be under the appropriate care of a physician. So the argument boils down to you “following doctor’s orders.”

Steve Stoch:

Dear Attorney Jessup: Thank you for answering my question but can you be more specific when you say the argument boils down me “following doctors orders” is there a potential of me losing the argument? Or is it when a doctor writes a prescription note to go exercise his instruction over rules anything else or any accuser.
Thanks again.

Lala Lock:

Hello ,

I’m receving LTD from a job because they couldn’t accommodate me not been on my feet for no more then an hour and lots of sit down breaks. I found a job and its less walking and I sit a lot. Will I still receive LTD from the other job?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:


If your policy does not allow you to earn income while on disability, then no.


I am a runner so I was running on the street and hit a pothole as a result I fractured my right foot. Doctor put me on walking boot and crutches to use. I have 2 jobs, one is a physical activity job thus it requires lifting, climbing on ladder, going through ceiling and I have to stand on my feet all the time. The 2nd one was part time but does not require physical activity. I sit at a desk and work on computers. Every now and then I get to walk to a different desk. Right now I’m on disability on my physical demanding job but working on my sitting job.

Can I do that?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:


Your disability insurance policy will dictate if you can work and receive benefits. At the very least the earnings from the part time would most likely offset the amount you would be receiving from the disability insurance. You will need to obtain a copy of your policy to find out for sure.


If a person is put in met life disability because of heart problems and Doctor says his heart is to weak for surgery I would think any work he does at another company and collecting benefits would be wrong? To weak to have surgery but is working fine on feet all day? Is it possible?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Heather, I am sorry, but I do not quite follow your questions. However, it is possible for an insurance company to make a determination that you are able to work despite your medical conditions. That does not necessarily mean that any denial of benefits would stand, but it is possible a denial could happen.


I’m on STD due to depression for personal issues… I work in a bank. Can I still work my part time job as a waiter? Or will be consider fraud?


Currently I work at a physician’s office. Also, I am pregnant. I will go on FMLA and STD when I deliver in October. I am also doing classes currently for Medical Transcription (to be able to work at home). I will be done the classes before the baby is born and I hope to start an at home job as well as the office job I have currently (to have 2 incomes). Once I have the baby and go on STD through the office job, am I still able to do the at-home job to continue one income? I will be home because of the baby anyhow. Thanks.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Kerry, it is dependent on the definition of disability contained in the disability policy. If you have a copy of same please feel free to contact our office to discuss your situation further.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Valerie, it will be dependent on the language in your STD policy with respect to whether you can work and still be deemed disabled or how any income you earn will affect your benefit amount. If you have a copy of your STD policy please feel free to contact our office to discuss your question further.

Roger J.:

I am currently looking at having to go out on LTD because of a diagnosed arthritis disease in my hands and back. The insurance company is Metlife. The following is the language in my policy handbook:

How Is “Disability” Defined?
A disability is defined as:
? For the first 12 months of LTD benefits, being unable to earn 80% or more of monthly pre-disability income at your own occupation in the national economy, and
? After the first12 months of LTD benefits, being unable to perform any gainful occupation for which you are reasonably qualified given your training, education, experience, and pre-disability earnings.

Does this mean that I cannot earn any other income after the 12 months of LDT?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Roger, we would need to see the entire policy to determine. Under the Work Incentive provision (if there is one in your policy) there could be language that clarifies the matter as to what, if any, income you are allowed to earn on disability and still qualify for benefits.


I am currently on short term disability which will run into long term since I will be out of work until August. My full time job is considered a heavy duty job but I work part time also driving limo. If my doc allows me to drive am I allowed to work my part time job without it affecting my payments. I only work 2-3 nights a month at the part time job

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Dan, we would need to see a copy of the policy in order to determine if it allows for work while on disability. If you have a copy please feel free to contact our office to discuss.

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