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Can I do volunteer work while I am collecting long term disability benefits?

Disability attorney Gregory Dell discusses if a claimant is able to participate in volunteer work while collecting disability benefits from their disability insurance company.

Many of our clients will ask us if they can engage in volunteer work while they’re collecting long-term disability, and the answer really depends on the scope of how disability is defined within your disability policy. For example, if you were going to go out and do some volunteer work for a local charitable organization, whatever those activities are that you’re asked to do for that charitable organization, if they’re similar to the scope of what you were doing before you became disabled, the long-term disability carrier could make the argument that if you’re able to do that type of work for the charitable organization, then why couldn’t you go do that kind of work for an employer that is paying you.

So you have to be very careful that even though you feel like one day you want to go out and do something for a charitable organization or do something that you used to do for years every November or every December, you want to be very cautious because a disability carrier, while you’re trying to do something that’s really nice, will often use that against you to say that if you can do that then you can go back to work.

There are 8 opinions so far. Add your comment below.


I am collecting LTD payments from Sun Life and they decreased my payments because I receive Canada pension DI payments. Now they decrease my payment further because I am receiving a medical pension from my former employer.

Can they do this?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:


You will need to review your policy; specifically, under the “Other Income Benefits” provision. There will be a list of enumerated offsets contained in the provision. If the items are listed there, then yes, they can.

Dave Evans:

I was once a lorry driver .since 2010 ive beem put on long term disability with arthritic knees and hip” two occupie myself a couple days a week Answereing a telephone for serv which is an organisation carrying out blood runs to the hospital . But im not sure if I would loose any benifits .

Attorney Stephen Jessup:


Unfortunately, there is no way of telling how your carrier will evaluate the volunteer work. If they deem that you could do a comparable job (answering phones) full time, it could result in them prompting a review as to the ability to return to work.


I receive SSDI and I am looking into volunteering in a gift shop at a local hospital. I have been on SSDI for 2 years and I am 58. 12 yrs ago I was a manager/district manager for another gift shop. Should I accept the volunteer position or pass?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Ann, you will need to consult with an attorney that handles SSDI claims to best answer your question.


I receive SSDI, as well as LTD from Prudential, an employer provider policy. I’ve been on LTD since 2014. I worked in Regulatory Compliance in Financial Technology on Wall Street. I wanted to look into volunteering once or twice a month, mentoring young adults in developing their careers. This is not related to my work nor my academic experience. The volunteering is temporary, 4 to 6 months. Do you think this would affect either my SSDI or my LTD benefits? Thank you.

Victor Peña:

JOE, with regard to your LTD claim, whether or not the volunteering will affect your claim will depend on a number of factors including that nature of the activities you will be performing, the nature of your disabling conditions serving as a basis for your claim, and your disability policy language. I will defer to a SSDI attorney for questions as to how your volunteering would affect your SSDI claim. If you would like to discuss your LTD claim in more detail please contact one of our attorneys directly.

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