Most group long term disability (“LTD”) plans require claimants to apply for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. Most LTD plans reduce your LTD benefits by the amount of your SSD benefits. Even though your LTD plan may have an easier definition of disability to meet than SSD, the former can help establish entitlement to the latter in some circumstances.
I represent a 61 year old former newspaper machinist whose LTD plan required him to file for SSD benefits. The LTD plan defined being disabled as being unable to do your last occupation. A machinist is classified as “medium” work, meaning it required being able to lift and carry up to 50 pounds. The LTD plan concluded that the machinist’s knee and back problems prevented him from being able to perform his occupation.
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) medical-vocational rules provide that a 60 year old claimant without transferable skills is disabled even if capable of sedentary or light work, which require lifting up to 10 and 20 pounds respectively. Medical records and reports specifically devised by the LTD plan to determine if the claimant could work as a machinist were submitted to the SSA. The SSA quickly approved the machinist’s SSD benefits today. It appears that the SSA accepted the LTD evidence and determination that the claimant could not perform medium work, which then required finding the claimant disabled under the SSA medical-vocational rules.