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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 70 opinions so far. Add your comment below.

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.


Hello, I’m on disability from the military and I’m concern if I work another job, very very different from what I did in the military. Would this have any changes in my military disability?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Morgan, unfortunately, we do not handle any military/VA disability claims and as such would not be able to assist you or provide any guidance.


I have two jobs and recently had an accident, I am claiming STD with the job that requires me to do physical labor and still working at the other job which is a telecomuting job working from home tracking people and
sometimes meeting with them for short periods of time. Can I collect on the STD policy and still work
the other job which doesn’t call for any physical labor?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

JLB, you will need to review the language of your policy to see if it allows you to work and if it does, whether it will offset your benefit by the amount you receive from the second job.


I am currently on STD, heading towards LTD. My employer has refused 3 different job restrictions saying that they would only take me back when I can do 100% of job. When I went on STD, my job description said must be able to lift, push, pull up to 50 lbs. I know that is a lot less than what we lift, push pull on a daily basis. They have since changed the wording to “lift, push, pull heavy weights”. Being that I can not do that job because of my back, they now want to work with me under the Disabilities Act. I have been offered a PT job with another company. This has been so frustrating and time consuming, I just want to work and do my job around the lifting of heavy weights but my employer wont work with me. Can I safely take the PT job without any backlash?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Mike, I can only speak with respect to your rights under the STD policy and no other applicable issues you have under the ADA or any employment rights. I would caution you that if your policy does not allow you to work- then STD could be terminated. However, if it is deemed a return to work benefit provision the STD insurance company would adjust the benefit they pay. Without the policy there is no way to know how a return to part-time work could affect you. You can speak to your carrier as to same, or if you have a copy of the policy you can contact our office to discuss.


Hi i am on ltd with metlife they sent a letter to me after 24 months telling me that i am approved for the remander of the policy till i reach full retirement at 54 you think they will offer a buyout.i get 450 month after they subtract ssid?

Also i would like to do a uber job just to keep busy.if i call met.and they say i can earn
Say 200 a week and still makes me nervous some due to these companies screwing people over so much.i dont need the money so would it be wise to not do it ?
In order to keep ltd going? Thank you

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Rob, MetLife may be willing to negotiate a buyout of your claim. However, we would need to know more information about your claim to better assess the likelihood of same. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss how we may be able to assist you.


I am currently working for a company as a Commercial auto parts delivery driver that requires heavy lifting on a daily basis. There are no light duty positions available and I’ve been out for a month with a back injury. Is it legal for me to obtain a desk job with another company while waiting on them to approve my claim and start paying me?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

CJ, without knowledge as to your policy language we would not be able to advise you. If you have a copy please feel free to contact our office to discuss futher.


I had back surgery last August. I was paid by my full time position STD until October 31st. I continued to work my non physical job two days a week while on STD. I am afraid I will be fired from my day job which is the main paycheck for the family. Is this wrong? I have been honest with my company and informed them of the situation.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Armando, it really depends on how disability is defined in your STD policy and whether it allows you to have any additional work earnings. Has your insurance company requested pay stubs or information as to same?

Leo M.:

I had injury at work. Required surgery. I was out a month job let me go. At will working state. I signed the agreement. Std and then Ltd kicked in from this job even though I was released from the job. So I found new job. I was still Healing from the surgery. I found out surgery got infected my first week at new job. So after 5 more infection surgeries second job started paying me std and soon Ltd. My question is can I cash them both? The policy defines I can not make income from another source.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Leo, collect from two separate insurance policies from two different employers? Most likely not as the policies would typically allow for offset of each other’s benefits. Furthermore, the insurance policy from the first job might deny your claim on the fact you started working in a new job.


I am working as a LPN nurse in two different nursing facilities, and I was diagnose have breast cancer by my doctor. Can I claim two long term disabilities in two job at the same time?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Maryjuliet, quite often the two policies will offset one another. This sounds ridiculous, but it does happen. You will need to review the disability policies from both employers to determine if the Group policy would be deemed a source of Other Income subject to offset.


Hi. I have 2 jobs job, 1 is very physical pushing pulling and heavy lifting, job 2 is less physical. Both jobs are part time. I have to go on std for my first job and I still work the 2 job and collect std.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Nicole, it would depend on whether your policy allows you to work and collect benefits, and if it does, if it would reduce your benefit by the work earnings from the other job. Additionally, you should clarify with HR your coverage under the STD plan – most of the time coverage under a disability policy requires a person to be deemed a full time employee.


I got a question. I’m on short term disability through my employer because they put me on it because I can’t ride a fork lift due to my vision but there are other stuff beside forklife and I gave them documents through my eye doctor. Are they able to terminate my employment?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Mike, if you are on FMLA, then no – they would have to keep a position available for you until the expiration of the FMLA. If you are not on FMLA and are an “at will” employee you could be let go.


I have been on short term disability since 4-1-17 pending surgery on my back. The company I worked for recently sent me a desperation letter saying I quit wich in fact I didn’t. They did not offer me another position in the facility. Do I have a case or should I cut my losses?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Dawnita, a case for short term disability or against your employer? If it is against your employer you would need to speak to an employment attorney to better assess your rights.


I was working two jobs prior to becoming disabled; one full-time and one limited part-time job. My full-time job requires 100% work capacity, no “light duty” available, which includes the ability to work 16 hr duty periods. I have been given the okay to go back to work 4-8 hrs a day, which in turn means I can work my original part-time job. My policy does have an incentive to work provision, can I work my part time job & still collect LTD benefit from my full time employer? Am I required to inform my LTD company that I’m working another job?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Lynn, if your policy does not allow you to work and receive benefits then the part time job could compromise your long term disability claim, or at the very least offset your monthly benefit. Should your company find out you are working it will result in the carrier seeking any potential repayment of an overpayment in light of work earnings.

July B.:

Thank you in advantage for answer all the questions. I’m receiving STD from my company, because I had a injury there and they couldn’t accommodate me. I found another job and this can accommodate the restrictions.
Should I tell my 1st job about that? What’s can happen if I don’t tell any one?

The new job doesn’t have health insurance and I am still been recovering the injury by the first job, but I am not able to pay my bills just with the STD.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

July, if you are receiving STD benefits and begin working another job and do not report to the earnings to the STD company they will likely come after you for a refund of the benefits paid that overlap with your working.

Frank S.:

Hi, can I work same occupation being on STD from a prior job? I was diagnosed with ptsd due to the shooting on the strip, I been offered another job at a different hospital. Thinking of taking the job; do I need legal help?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Frank, it would ultimately depend on your policy language. Some policies do allow a person to work with an adjustment to the benefit based on earnings, but some do not at all. If you have a copy of the policy please feel free to contact our office for a review of same.


I’m on std at my job. I’ve been driving uber part time. My job called me and said we’re suspending your std benefits and we need a copy of your uber driving record since you been on std. Do I have to submit it and can I be disciplined for not submitting it?

Attorney Rachel Alters:

Jesse, your employer and insurance carrier have the right to know if you are working and earning money if they are paying you short term disability benefits. Your policy likely allows for an offset of your STD benefits if you are working part time while disabled. Your policy likely also has a provision that requires you to inform them if you go back to work in any capacity.


I have been working full time as a mail clerk & part time as box office for movie theatre. I’ve doing the deliveries for my full time job. So, I’m basically outside almost all day. It was fine when it was cooler temperatures 70’s & below. When it got into 80’s & higher, it was causing my migraines every day. So my neurologist wrote an accomidation letter to have me switched to indoor duties. My supervisor said he can’t accommodate it. So, I couldn’t return to work until Human Resources found me something else. Unless I was willing to continue working outside doing the deliveries. They said if it takes longer than 3 days, I would be put on FMLA. My last day to work for the mail room was Thursday 5/24.

It is now Saturday 7/14, I am still waiting. My neurologist says I can work as usual as long as it’s indoors. Still no luck. Since then I have been working as normal at the threatre. Since it’s indoors & air conditioned. My full time job found out about it. They are saying I wasn’t allowed to like it’s a violation of FMLA. Are they correct? Trying to think if should stay on FMLA until they find something permanent or do temporary jobs for them till they find something. Just worried what if I do a temp assignment. But what if they don’t have anything lined up after it. That means I won’t even be bringing in the FMLA pay.

Attorney Rachel Alters:

James, I am not sure how to advise you. My specialty is in private disability, I do not deal much with FMLA. You may want to contact an employment lawyer.


I am on short term disability till 8-15-2018 due to some restrictions. Can I claim for LTD and work some where else if got the job? Is it legal to claim for LTD as well as to work another job? Please advise.


Attorney Jay Symonds:

Nhaider1, your options to work are governed by the specific language of the disability policy. You should request a copy of the Policy or Certificate from your employer. If it remains unclear, I suggest you contact our office and speak with one of the attorneys to address your specific questions regarding your situation.


I’m currently using intermittent FMLA through my employer. Working 3 days a week. Can I file for social security disability while I’m using FMLA as long as I’m not making more than the allowable amount, $1180 a month?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Shari, you will need to consult with a SSDI attorney to find out eligibility requirements as we only handle disability claims under employer provided and privately purchased disability policies. If your employer also provides short and long term disability as a benefit to you it would be a good idea to look into that as well.


I work at 2 benefited jobs. I have just been approved for LTD from one employer; while working at another employer. I was injured at the one that I am still working at with restrictions, but the injury makes it impossible working at the other one. Can I still work at the one employer and still receive the LTD benefits? I should also mention that I have not received any payments for loss of wages from worker comp. The benefits are through Prudential Insurance and they are using the wording of regular job not own job.

Attorney Alex Palamara:

Jen, the policy governing your approved LTD Claim will govern this issues. To give you a specific answer, I will need more information regarding your claim, your occupations and your income. While you still can work and receive benefits under many policies (partial disability claim), often times the insurance company will utilize the fact that you are working against you. Furthermore, income from the job you are working may reduce the amount of money the insurance company has to pay you.

Jorge D. D:

I’m on short term disability and FMLA and getting paid 70% of my check but after a couple of weeks I decided to work on a different company not as a construction worker but as a maintenance worker is this legal? I’m not doing none of the dr restrictions on my new job I wish I could come back to my other job where I have STD but with the drs conditions I can’t since they can not fit me in and I really need to work since I always lived check by check.

Attorney Alex Palamara:

Jorge, many policies allow for a partial claim for disability benefits. This means that you might be able to work and still receive disability benefits. However, since we have not had an opportunity to review your disability plan, it is impossible for us to know the effects of returning to work due to your policy. Typically, if you earn any income, then the insurance company will get to offset the amount and pay you less.


I receive LTD with an own occupation policy till age 65. At 65 the definition of total disability changes to being unable to do any gainful occupation for which I am reasonably suited by education, training and experience. If the insurance company asks if I am working in any capacity is this referring to in my own occupation or does it include any other job I might do even though I can do work outside of my own occupation? I was a physical therapist as my regular occupation.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Linda, if your carrier is inquiring as to work in “any capacity” they mean just that – are you working at all, regardless of whether it was your pre-disability occupation or any other occupation.


I am in CA and was approved for short term disability for 6 weeks, the payments seem to be reflecting the full time job I had for two weeks back in October 2018, which I can no longer do based on my disability (I was let go b/c of anxiety and substance abuse that affected my performance, and have been / am currently going for treatment). I was only at that job for 2 weeks. However I am currently physically able to do a small part time job teaching fitness classes for 2 hours a week. Will this affect my payment amount? Is it like unemployment where they just deduct a certain amount from your payments based on what you report? The disability payment is way more than I make at the part time job and I need the money until I am able to work more hours and get back to full time. It’s such a negligible amount do I even need to report it when I certify for benefits?

Attorney Jay Symonds:

Joanna: Any time you take up employment while collecting a disability benefit it can jeopardize your claim. I suggest you contact our office and speak with one of the attorneys to address the specific questions you have regarding your exact situation.


I’m on STD, I’ve been on it for about 2.5 months or so. I had heard I could work elsewhere as long as it was different type of work, so I did for a week. But I didn’t tell my employer because it was so short & a couple other reasons, but they never gave me an STD policy book or anything & while I’m on leave, I don’t have access to the company intranet, so I can’t look up the STD policy on whether it’s allowed (I didn’t realize when I did it that it had to be in the policy language). I don’t want them to find out before I can talk to them, but I’m trying to get a copy of the policy from a co-worker & get my ducks in a row. In the meantime, can they find out by checking your SS# & see if you like filed w-4 with another company? Can they run some kind of report that shows you working for someone else? I know they can like follow you & stuff, check social media & whatnot, but other than some benign re-shares & posts about my sons graduation, things like that, I haven’t shared anything work related. Anyway, I figure, it’s probably best to get ahead of this thing. But can they find out via documentation like tax docs, reports, etc.? Thank u for any help!!

Attorney Rachel Alters:

SJ, it is unlikely they will find out though tax documents if you did not provide them access to them. Your policy likely requires you to inform them of any work you are performing while on claim.


My boyfriend works for the electrical union and was written out of work for an injured shoulder that requires physical therapy for at least 4-6 weeks. He applied for TDI but is also considering working under the table with an electrical apprentice at residential jobs. Not only is the work the same field and labor intensive as his job he was written out of work from but this apprentice is a current colleague at his job site. I think this is playing with fire honestly, someone could report him for working with this guy on the side while receiving TDI pay from work. Should he stop working with this apprentice on the side and just collect the TDI until he is well enough to return to regular work? Aside from the obvious argument that he is written out of work for a reason would he run the risk of losing those benefits were he to get caught working?

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