Lincoln Absence Advisor

Disability Insurance and COVID-19

May 21, 2020 Lincoln Financial Group Season 1 Episode 13
Lincoln Absence Advisor
Disability Insurance and COVID-19
Chapters
00:00:40
Understanding the benefits of disability insurance with COVID-19
00:04:17
How disability insurance works in relation to COVID-19
00:09:12
The importance of disability insurance now and for the future
00:10:08
Closing statements
Lincoln Absence Advisor
Disability Insurance and COVID-19
May 21, 2020 Season 1 Episode 13
Lincoln Financial Group

Short-Term Disability coverage can provide a valuable source of income when someone is injured or ill and unable to work – and that safety net is more important than ever in light of the COVID-19 situation. In this episode of Lincoln Absence Advisor, Tracy Hendrickson, Director of Operational Initiatives for Group Protection, discusses:

  • The benefits of disability insurance as they relate to COVID-19
  • How disability insurance works in relation to COVID-19
  • The importance of disability given our current environment and as we look towards the future



LCN-3090815-051820 

© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Short-Term Disability coverage can provide a valuable source of income when someone is injured or ill and unable to work – and that safety net is more important than ever in light of the COVID-19 situation. In this episode of Lincoln Absence Advisor, Tracy Hendrickson, Director of Operational Initiatives for Group Protection, discusses:

  • The benefits of disability insurance as they relate to COVID-19
  • How disability insurance works in relation to COVID-19
  • The importance of disability given our current environment and as we look towards the future



LCN-3090815-051820 

© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Chris Takesian:

Hello again listeners, this is Chris Takesian, Marketing Manager for leave and disability at Lincoln Financial. The evolution of the COVID-19 situation has raised a lot of questions, especially from a disability insurance benefits perspective. May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to discuss how COVID-19 impacts disability insurance as well as the value of this product during these challenging times. Joining me for this discussion is one of my colleagues at Lincoln financial, Tracy Hendrickson. Tracy is the Director of Operational Initiatives in our Group Protection claim area.

Chris Takesian:

So Tracy, thank you so much for joining me today.

Tracy Hendrickson:

Sure, happy to be here.

Chris Takesian:

So it being disability insurance awareness month, it's a topic that's top of mind right now and even more so given what we've experienced with COVID-19 something we get asked a lot is are individuals covered for short term disability if they are diagnosed with COVID-19?

Tracy Hendrickson:

So an employee is considered disabled when they meet the definition of disability outlined in their policy. If an individual develops symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 their carrier would assess their claim to determine eligibility for benefits based on the terms of their policy. This is the same as they would for any other illness.

Chris Takesian:

So in talking about disability insurance, one benefit we hear a lot about is the financial preparedness that this product can bring. Can you weigh in on the benefits of the product from a financial perspective?

Tracy Hendrickson:

Sure. So short term disability coverage provides a source of income to people who are unable to work. Having that may allow an individual to better focus on their recovery during what is a stressful time in their life. Their disability case manager will also focus on their plan to return to work in coordination with their employer to get back on track as quickly as possible.

Chris Takesian:

So you mentioned returned to work and when we're thinking about that process, is there a question you get a lot that that may be good for our listeners to hear as well?

Tracy Hendrickson:

Sure. So there have been a lot of questions around how long since the COVID-19 illness began must you wait until you're able to return to your workplace and employers may have a specific policy for their work site. There's also resources on the CDC website that are available to employers, healthcare providers and insurance carriers. These resources include recommendations for the number of days that have passed since the illness began and other guidelines around persistency of symptoms. Um, these recommendations have actually developed over time as healthcare experts learn more about the virus. One other point of clarification, uh, when people ask about this topic is they'll often ask about or use the term quarantine when asking how long someone must remain under quarantine. Quarantine is different from isolation. And this is something new that I've learned this process. The CDC has defined isolation as separating sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. That's in contrast to quarantine, which separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. You'll often hear these terms mentioned interchangeably, but if a person is out on disability for the COVID-19 illness, um, that would be in the isolation category Vs. Quarantine.

Chris Takesian:

No, that's, I didn't know that. That's interesting. Um, and, and that is a good segue to my next question with so much information out there, you know, why do you think that individuals are so confused about what is covered in relation to COVID-19?

Tracy Hendrickson:

So I think this stems from the fact that there are several benefits that may be available to an individual for a COVID-19 illness and it can be difficult to navigate which benefits apply or run concurrently. Um, so benefits that are available to an individual with COVID-19 could include state or federal mandated paid leave, workers' compensation company, paid leave, unemployment and disability. Um, so the fact that there's, uh, you know, a number of benefits potentially available to an individual and the fact that benefits are unique to your state and employer, it can be a lot to navigate.

Chris Takesian:

Certainly, and people are dealing with a lot of things that can take them out of work right now. Uh, and are looking for support. Uh, disability insurance could you know, help those who are impacted by COVID-19. If someone is diagnosed, uh, with COVID-19, are believed to have had it, how do they activate their disability insurance coverage? How would they go about that?

Tracy Hendrickson:

So once you've consulted with your doctor, the next potential step would be to contact your carrier. When you do that, it's helpful to have your medical information at the ready. So for example, who is your current healthcare provider and when were you evaluated by them? You may also be asked about your symptoms specific to COVID- 19 examples include whether you have a fever and the date it started, whether you have experienced a loss of taste or smell. And if you have a cough you may also be asked whether testing for COVID-19 was performed.

Tracy Hendrickson:

Having a clear timeline of your symptoms and ongoing treatment plan with your healthcare provider will be helpful information for your disability case manager. Also with any disability claim, it's helpful for your disability case manager to understand any other medical conditions you're experiencing and whether you have discussed accommodations like work from home with your employer.

Chris Takesian:

Yeah. So it sounds like potentially keeping a log might be a good idea. Maybe writing down, um, you know, what you're experiencing when you're experiencing, just to have that all in order. So when you go to your carrier, you know that you have that information prepared and it's a lot smoother, um, on their end.

Tracy Hendrickson:

Exactly.

Chris Takesian:

So if someone is experiencing symptoms linked to COVID-19 but has not yet diagnosed, is this the appropriate time to reach out to their carrier?

Tracy Hendrickson:

It's important to see a healthcare provider to assess your symptoms, whether that be in person or through telemedicine and your healthcare provider can recommend testing or let you know if they suspect COVID-19 based on your symptoms, your carrier should be able to assess your claim with or without a test result. But seeing a healthcare provider prior to calling your carrier will help them process your claim more quickly and completely.

Tracy Hendrickson:

So I think this is something we also get asked a lot because we are in a new environment. Um, does the documentation change for a disability claim if they are diagnosed via telemedicine versus an in person visit?

Chris Takesian:

In this environment, insurance companies are typically accepting telemedicine records whenever possible for disability claims. An exception could be if a test result is required that can only be obtained through an in person visit such as an MRI. Um, and a lot of carriers we're leveraging telemedicine more and more even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, um, it, you know, we're, again, we're seeing that used even more in these circumstances.

Chris Takesian:

Yeah, it makes sense and, and definitely can provide a safer option I'm sure for, for a lot of people. If I contact my carrier prior to having a confirmed case of COVID-19, will a confirm test result need to be provided for my claim to be continued?

Tracy Hendrickson:

No. So your carrier would be able to assess your claim based on the severity of your symptoms and your treatment along with supporting medical information. But if you are awaiting test results, your disability claim consultant will want to update the information for your claim once you receive those test results.

Chris Takesian:

And how does go, uh, being quarantined come into play for your disability coverage and possibly an elimination period?

Tracy Hendrickson:

A policy elimination period is the time between the beginning of an illness or injury and when you begin to receive benefit payments from an insurer. Typically it must be met before STD benefits begin. Again, elimination periods are variable, so it's important to check with your disability contract. Quarantine periods leading up to the onset of symptoms may or may not be covered under your disability policy, the onset of symptoms or a positive COVID-19 tests typically mark the beginning of a disabling illness for COVID-19.

Chris Takesian:

So talking about the elimination period, um, should we expect that the elimination period, uh, to be waived if you have COVID-19?

Tracy Hendrickson:

It depends. Uh, elimination periods are standard in most insurance carrier at disability policies. However, some employers are working with their disability carriers to amend their policies or their administrative practices to waive that elimination period for covert 19 claims. California has also waived the one week state disability insurance waiting period for people who have COVID-19 or who have been exposed.

Chris Takesian:

Yeah. And each state is different. Right. So it could vary state to state. So you just want to make sure that you're, you're kind of keeping up with those uh, different regulations as they come through.

Tracy Hendrickson:

Yes. There, there certainly have been a lot of regulations coming out from the states that your insurance carriers and your employers are reacting to.

Chris Takesian:

Absolutely. And, and going through these crazy times, uh, obviously it kind of elevates the importance of disability coverage and just what would you say the key benefits are for this product? Not only as we kind of experienced this COVID-19 situation right now, but for the future as well.

Tracy Hendrickson:

Yes. I spoke to this earlier, but we'll reiterate that short term disability coverage can provide a source of income when you are unable to work. Providing that safety net can go a long way when you are in an unexpected situation and you're injured or ill. Your disability claim consultant is also a great resource to help you understand what is needed to process your claim and navigate the process from claim submission to your return to work. These individuals often get into this line of work because they care about people and want to provide excellent customer service to their customers during a vulnerable time in their lives.

Chris Takesian:

That that's great and it's, it's obviously, it's especially now really nice to have some type of safety net. Um, so that, that's a great answer and as we kind of close out, are there any final takeaways you want to leave our audience with?

Tracy Hendrickson:

Sure. So there are a lot of moving parts to this situation right now. Uh, your human resources representative or a customer service representative from your disability insurance company can walk you through the information you need to know and help you with next steps or.

Chris Takesian:

With that, I really appreciate you joining us, Tracy. I just want to thank you so much. We really appreciate your time.

Tracy Hendrickson:

Sure.

Chris Takesian:

To everyone listening, thank you for joining us. We will continue to cover topics that help employers and their employees to this new environment. So be sure to subscribe to Lincoln Absence Advisor on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Disclosure:

Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation and its affiliates, the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lincoln Life and Annuity Company of New York, Syracuse, New York, and Lincoln Life Assurance Company of Boston, Dover, New Hampshire. The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company does not solicit business in New York, nor is it licensed to do so. Affiliates are separately responsible for their own financial and contractual obligations.

Understanding the benefits of disability insurance with COVID-19
How disability insurance works in relation to COVID-19
The importance of disability insurance now and for the future
Closing statements