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If I am receiving disability insurance benefits, can the disability insurance company use my spouse’s income or retirement benefits to offset my monthly disability benefit payment?

The universal answer for this question is No. In almost every short term or long term disability insurance policy the only money a carrier can use to offset the claimant’s disability insurance benefits is money paid to the claimant or the claimant’s children as a result of the claimant’s disability. An example of a classic offset is SSDI payments to the claimant or SSDI payments to claimants children as a result of the claimant’s disability. Income to earned by a spouse that has nothing to do with your disability is irrelevant and we have never seen a spouse’s income offset a spouse’s disability benefit. There have been cases where a claimant and the spouse own shares in a company and the claimant is still disabled. The income distributed to the disabled claimant could be considered an offset.

There are 57 opinions so far. Add your comment now.

Michael:

If I am receiving disability benefits, can the disability insurer use a company bonus for goals met prior to becoming disabled but paid to me after I was approved for disability to offset their payments to me?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Michael,

Great question. Income earned prior to Disability, but paid after disability generally should be used as an offset. Your disability policy may have specific language discussing this.

Regina Moore:

I see a lot of questions as to the LTD getting your backpay when approved for SSD. My carrier for LTD sent me a letter a couple months back advising that I will be approved through them until 2044 per my case was approved through their doctors. I am a single mom and really need this money. I have heard several different remarks from people trying to help me with this. None of those were lawyers. Can I file a HARDSHIP on the backpay? Can I make a settlement offer and is there a chance that LTD companies will consider this? I called customer service and also my case worker through the LTD company and they said that whatever that SSD doesn’t pay me that they will send me a check to cover the difference since I had been approved through their doctors. I dont want them to sue me and dont know if a judge will help me. Why did my company take out for STD and LTD if they are going to take everything? They have also been very rude when I have called to ask questions because I didn’t understand the paperwork. They never mentioned anything about taking all of my backpay and maybe some of my check each month. Please help.

CB:

Would long term capital gains be an offset to my LTD income? I don’t see where my MetLife LTD policy addresses income like gains, taxable interest, etc. Capital gains aren’t specifically excluded in the policy, yet they ask me about Other Income each year.

Attorney Greg Dell:

CB,

Usually, passive long term gains are not an offset to LTD benefits.

Calvin Jones:

Will my long term disability benefit be offset if I buy rental property and start collecting rental income?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Calvin,

Based on language found in most disability policies, no. In an abundance of caution I would recommend that you review the provisions in your policy that define what sources of “Other Income” are which would be subject to offsetting your benefit.

Alan Zermack:

My long term disability insurance company will use my monthly Social Security “Retirement” as an offset to disability payments. Is this legal? Can they do this?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Alan,

If it is enumerated under the policy as an offset to your benefit, then yes, it is unfortunately legal.

Bob:

Regarding Michael question,
If while on STD (elimination period 6 months) I received a bonus that was 4 months before LTD kicked in. Can the insurance company use this as an off set? The STD summary only off sets other disability payments with no mention of other income.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Bob,

Without review of the policy language we would not be able to advise. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss.

KD:

My wife is currently receiving LTD , I’m an owner operator of an 18 wheeler when I started I put my wife as president of the LLC with myself . My Wife worked for an Insurance company prior to getting hurt on our boat. All of a sudden the LTD company wants a copy of MY Business Taxes ( their reasoning is to see if they are paying her properly) BUT SHE NEVER WORKED FOR ME NOR RECIEVED BENEFITS FROM MY LLC COMPANY. When I did all the LLC paperwork I thought I cheer her up as making her a member. Will that affect her LTD Benefits?? She RECIEVED LTD from the company she worked for. Should I remove my wife as Memeber ?
Thanks In Advance

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

KD, there is reason to be concerned that you have held out that she is a “president” which does give the impression she is working in some capability. I think it is very important that you clarify that your wife is not working in any capacity as it relates to your LLC.

Darcey:

When figuring my monthly long term disability pay, will my salary and bonuses be included in the calculation of my monthly benefit?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Darcey, you will need to review the policy to determine what the plan defines pre-disability earnings to mean as it relates to computing your monthly benefit.

Kate:

Is profit made from the sale of collectibles or personal property considered other income that your ltd can claim as an offset

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Kate, no as it is not earned income within the context of a disability policy.

Robert:

If I am on LTD and I have an investment account will gains obtained and/or withdrawn from the investment account be used to offset my LTD?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Robert, if the account is not related to a retirement account as set forth in the disability policy as a source of other income then there should be no issue.

Mark:

Hi,
I’m receiving LTD from Metlife and SSDI. I’m going to retire from Conocophillips and want to know if by taking a lump sum and doing a direct rollover of my pension to an IRA will my LTD payment be offset.

I would not be taking any distributions. I have asked both Conocophillips and Metlife reps this question but can not get it in writing. All I get is their opinion or told to ask the other party. This is >100k ?

Thanks, Mark

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Mark, review your policies language as it relates to sources of other income. There is usually language applicable to that very issues.

Dena:

My husband has been getting long term disability from insurance company and receives social security Disability… I am his wife and eligible to receive social security. With my social security payments offset any of his Ltd payments… We live in Texas.

JC:

If I am on LTD and have short term gains from stock and Forex spot trading, can those gains be used against my LTD benefits?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

JC, I have yet to see a group disability policy that offsets for such. Your policy will contain a detailed list of what would be deemed Other Income subject to offset.

wlk:

I injured my back and was off work for the full six month period of short term disability. I applied for and was approved for social security disability beginning February 1 2017. My last weekly short term disability check for the full six month period ending date was February 7 2017. I got a letter today telling me that I owe them the week of February 1 thru February 7 back as an over payment 318.06 due to me going ahead and applying for SSDI. Had I procrastinated on filing for my SSDI claim I would have gotten to keep the money due to February 7 being the last day of my 6 month short term disability claim. Is this legal? I never got a copy of my short or Long term disability policy as I got it thru my employer.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Wlk, the insurance carrier would be entitled to offset/reduce your benefit by the amount of the SSDI – it is known as a source of Other Income under the policy. Are you currently on LTD? If so, the offset would also be applicable.

Gretl:

My LTD company is asking for my spouse’s Social Security number. Doesn’t that violate my husband’s privacy?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Gretl, it is not uncommon for a request to show up in a standard claim form. Is that the context in which it is being asked? If so, you could certainly leave it blank.

Brittany:

My husband I receiving LTD through metlife and got approved for SSDI. Are they able to take the children and my (spouse) auxiliary payments?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Brittany, if the policy indicates that Dependent Social Security is a source of other income subject to offset under the policy, then unfortunately, yes.

Chris:

If a relative pays off the mortgage or credit card debt of a person with an active non-ERISA IDI claim, would that amount be considered an earnings offset? How about a direct monetary gift?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Chris, I cannot think of a scenario where a carrier under an IDI policy would consider that earnings. There shouldn’t be any issue.

Robert:

I am receiving LTD and am getting ready to go back to work. How do Insurance companies figure my disability income? Do they include benefits you receive in your income total? If they match my retirement contribution, is this included in my disability income total ?
Thank you

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Robert, disability income will be set forth in your policy. Typically a LTD policy will pay 60% of your monthly earnings. That sometimes will include bonuses and commissions and sometimes only your base salary. The policy will define what constitutes your Monthly Earnings. I have not seen an employer provided policy consider employer retirement contributions to be income with which to compute a monthly benefit.

Coco:

I am on long term disability and have applied for SSDI. I have saved some money for investment property and would like to mortgage half. The renter will pay mortgage payments so I will not be receiving any income from any proceeds since rent will cover payments. Is this still considered passive income? Thanks. Coco

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Coco, “Rental income” is typically not deemed as a source of Income that would be subject to an offset under an employer provided disability policy. Without seeing the defined terms for “Other Income” in your policy we would not be able to completely advise.

Len:

HI I’m 58 on LTD AN SSDI I have many chronic health ailments! Heart failure, left branch block, sudden death syndrome and needed a defribulator pace maker, is main reason I can’t work. But also supplied MET LIFE with my 5 herniated discs in my spine, osteo arthritis in my hands. I have tears in the lebrums in my hips from I guess my job, hypertension, and diabetes. I know HUH? Kind of inherited some of those. I was advised by met life that I can apply to my company for a disability pension. Which I did and was approved. I have permanent heart damage, I’m considered type 2 heart failure. my disability pension is less then half of what my pension would have been. MET LIFE calls every 4 to 6 months, and says, we’re calling on your long term disability case, and will be contacting your doctors for updated paper work. But how can MET LIFE say I’m on LTD? when I was approved for my disability pension? and have been getting my disability pension? For a year now. Met life doesn’t pay me anything? I go on Medicare in July , but my wife and kids will remain a on my plan as it is for all retirees. Sorry so long but can never get a straight answer from met life. My heart has improved from many meds and defribulator pace maker but still have symptoms of heart failure exertion etc. So honestly! What’s the purpose for MET LIFE wanting paper work from my doctors? And also so frustrated because I was only 8 months shy from being eligible for my regular,pension I had age but needed 8 more months!! So, Even if my cardiologist and electrophysiologist says my heart has improved! some what, can they now take away my disability pension and my benefits from my family? SSDI understands I’ve only had a labor job last 19.5 yrs, and prior to that only labor jobs. I also now have chronic anxiety from my health and constantly having to reprove to METLIFE until I’m 65 that I have heart failure and cannot work. If nothing else! Thanks for letting me vent to a professional it’s a shame even people with very real diseases have to be treated this way. Thanks

Cathy:

I’m receiving LTD benefits from my previous employer. My husband was receiving SOCIAL SEC AND EMPLOYER PENSION AND VA DISABILITY BENEFITS. My husband recently expired. I’m eligible for survivor benefits.
Question: Will my survivor benefits be used to offset my LTD benefits.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Len, if MetLife is not paying you any benefit for over a year and you are receiving a disability pension – are they offsetting your benefit based on the amount you received from the disability pension (as well as the SSDI)? I am not sure how to answer your question regarding disability pensions, as we only handle claims for disability insurance claims, so a little more information would be needed in order to assess how we might be able to assist you. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your situation further.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Cathy, I am sorry for your loss. Survivor benefits should not be an offset under your LTD plan.

Guillermo:

I’m 60 years old and receiving Assurant LTD and SSDI. My wife will be 62 years old. She was a homemaker and we are considering applying for her spousal benefits now and not when she is 66 years old. Will Assurant offset her spousal income from my LTD payments?

Thank you.

Peter:

My wife is receiving LTD insurance benefit from the insurance company. She recently got approved for SSDI at the insistence of the insurance company after multiple appeals. She is 64 and has about 18 months of benefits left (which will be reduced by the SS disability payments). I just turned 66. The insurance company is telling me I must either take my own SS benefit or spousal. And if I take spousal, they will reduce their portion of my wife’s benefit by that amount. My wife’s insurance company benefit is tax free.

Would it be a good strategy for me to take my own benefit for 18 months and then do a “reset” – repaying Social Security and begin taking spousal at that point? And then wait until age 70 to take my own benefit. Would the insurance company have any recourse since I did not take the spousal while my wife was receiving her benefit from the insurance company?

Nad:

I am receiving LTD benefits from an employer’s group insurance and now is approved for Surviving Spouse benefit due to my disability. Can the insurance for LTD offset the amount received for Surviving spouse and can they ask for the money back?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Guillermo, possibly, depending on the language in the policy.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Peter, if you do not take any SSA sponsored benefit stemming from your wife’s claim then there should be no offset. You would have to determine what strategy would maximize the money received into the house between SSDI, SSR and the disability benefit.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Nad, a widow benefit is not considered an offset to your disability policy. If you receive SSDI, then the carrier can reduce your benefit, but there should be no such offset for receiving a survivor benefit.

Peter:

Thanks for your input. To be clear, can the disability company require me to take my own benefit if I don’t take spousal benefit? If they can and I get around it by doing a reset, can they have any claim on us?

Nad:

Thank you so much Mr. STEPHEN for your prompt reply. I greatly appreciated it.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Peter, I do not know how an insurance company could require you to take any Social Security benefits if you are not their insured.

Hankster:

My LTD policy states as follows: MetLife will subtract from your gross disability benefits, payments from other sources of income, including:
1. any disability or retirement benefits which You, Your Spouse or child(ren) receive through:
? Federal Social Security Act;
This contradicts the statement at the very beginning, “The universal answer for this question is No.” Do most employer LTD policies now reduce benefits for spousal Social Security income?

Mike:

Hopefully I explain those correctly. I have Hartford ltd. I knew from the being that all overpayment will be paid back which I did pay them the overpayment. The problem is when I received my award from ssd not ssdi it said if my dependent has turn 18 they need to contact ssd directly. So I told my daughter and she followed thru and was paid directly to her. I never recieved any of the money and no documents on how much she recieved. Now Hartford is dropping me unless I repay a very large amount to them. Well I would but how can I repay something that I never received? I don’t have that money. She doesn’t even live with me. Can Hartford drop me for thus reason? I have 20 years before their payment was to stop and the money they say I owe isn’t nowhere close to that amount. Any help would be greatly appreciated. One more thing after I paid them the 27k overpayment for myself they sent me a letter stating overpayment paid in full.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Hankster, if MetLife is sending you to the appointment you would have an obligation to go. If it is your doctor sending you to the FCE you would not have an affirmative duty in the policy to go. However, if there is any reference to an FCE MetLife is likely of the opinion that you may no longer meet the definition of disability. As such, the FCE may be in your best interest. Please feel free to contact our office should you have any additional questions.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Mike, Hartford can only terminate your claim if they determine the medical information does not support disability. They cannot terminate you for not paying back an overpayment, but they can withhold monthly benefits until such time that it is repaid.

Hankster:

Atty Jessup, I thank you for the information. However, my original question stands: Do ERISA policies now offset for a spouse’s Social Security income? That is what is stated in my Metlife LTD policy, they can offset any disability or retirement benefits which You, Your Spouse or child(ren) receive through Federal Social Security Act. Can that be contested (since that is her income, not mine, and we maintain separate accounts)? Thanks again for your advice.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Hankster, the policy language would govern, but I have never seen an offset for a spouses retirement benefits.

Steve:

I am getting LTD through Metlife (what a pain) and get approx $6000 after a SSDI adjustment of $2653 (I do not pay tax on the LTD through Metlife because I paid tax on the premium). I have a minor tax exposure on my SSDI and that ok. My benefits through Metlife will continue until I i turn 65. I just turned 55 and under the terms of my retirement accounts I can now draw from my retirement, or I can take a lump sum or ignore until I am 65. I have about $250k in two retirement accounts and $200 in a 401k. I am concerned that Metlife will want me use the retirement funds now to offset my monthly benefit. I would like to leave all my money in the retirement and the 401k until I am 65. Some have advised that I move it to an IRA. Thoughts?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Steve, your MetLife policy will contain a provision for sources of “Other Income.” Frequently, this same provision will indicate what forms of retirement accounts will be deemed a source of other income subject to offset. Without seeing your policy we cannot know for sure, but generally, 401(k) accounts are listed as exempt from offset, and if a retirement account is rolled into an IRA or other similar account that is not accessible then it will also be exempt from offset. If you have a copy of your policy please feel free to contact our office to discuss in greater detail. Additionally, you could consider the possibility of negotiating a lump sum settlement from MetLife.

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