Could COVID-19 Change How Disabilities are Treated in the Workplace?
Tuesday, April 28th, 2020
Working from home was a non-starter for many organizations and the source of great frustration for people with disabilities. It was assumed that a disabled individual who was not able to walk, drive or otherwise travel to an office or to meetings was not able to work. But when so many businesses, large and small, have made the successful transition to having large workforces working remotely, there may be larger acceptance of disabled workers working from home.
This new normal of working from home may actually create some barriers to disability claims.
People who work in offices must first have the ability to get to those offices, travelling by train, bus, subway or car. Many occupations also require a need to travel to meetings by plane or car. When jobs can be done from the comfort of a home office, often equipped to meet the individual’s special needs, they may be able to perform the duties of their occupation.
What does this mean for people who are now on claim, or those who are contemplating filing for short or long-term disability claims?
For one thing, we expect that this shift in the definition of the workplace will take a few months to occur. Disability insurance companies have had to make the transition to having their employees work from home, so they may not be as quick to change how claims are viewed. However, as we know from decades of battling for disabled workers, where an opportunity for claims to be denied is presented, eventually the disability insurance companies will find a way to make it work in their favor.
For example, social media quickly became a source of evidence against claimants by disability insurance companies. It was a relatively new part of the culture when insurance companies realized that the photos, videos and posts could be used to undermine or destroy a claim.
We’re seeing five years of change compressed into a few months. The change, brought about by necessity, may be with us for a while. If so, people suffering from a disability that does not permit them to travel to and from an office may want to give some thought to how they will protect their claim.
A conversation with a partner in our office is always a good start. Call us at 877-583-2524 to discuss your claim, and how the change in the workplace brought about by COVID-19 might impact the health and well-being of your disability benefits.