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For Employees

At Principal Life, we believe taking control of your future is important to your success in returning to the workforce. We understand that getting back to work after an illness or injury is not an easy thing to do, especially if you have to consider a career change. We hope you are able to see this as a new opportunity or adventure in your life.

Getting back to work after an illness or injury is not an easy thing to do.

When a Disability Happens

Filing a disability claim does not have to be an additional stressful event when you are trying to recover. Communication with all parties involved (your employer, physician and claim examiner) will help facilitate the claim decision, as well as your return to work.

Prior to a disability, you should:

  • Determine your financial needs and make sure you have enough disability coverage to protect yourself.
  • Have a current will, including a durable power of attorney (POA). The durable POA allows you to choose someone to be your power of attorney. This is important if you should become incompetent and unable to handle your own financial affairs. This is necessary even if you are married. The alternative is having the courts designate a guardian for your financial affairs after you are deemed incompetent.

When a disability happens, you should:

  • Obtain an electronic or paper claim form from your employer.
  • Ensure all parts of the claim form are completed. Incomplete documentation can delay the claim decision.
  • Complete the second page of a paper claim form which includes basic information regarding your condition. You also need to complete the last page of the form, the HIPAA authorization. Doing so allows Principal Life to obtain additional medical documentation. Other pages of the claim form will be completed by your employer and physician.
  • Participate in a phone interview with your claim examiner to answer questions about missing information. We may discuss your job and occupation, abilities, any restrictions, your prognosis and return to work plans.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your employer while you are out. This allows you to know your job status and what accommodations may be needed for your return to work.
  • Be open to temporary or flexible work arrangements while you are recovering. A gradual (or part-time) return to work allows you to return to the job more quickly while easing back into your normal duties. Our Work Incentive benefit is an excellent vehicle to help this work for everyone.
  • Avoid sharing specific private health information with your employer. However, you can discuss your abilities, restrictions or limitations due to your condition. You can also talk about when you expect to return to work and if you need a modified schedule or special equipment upon your return.
  • Discuss appropriate actions with Principal Life's claim examiner and/or vocational consultant.

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Social Security Disability

At Principal Life, we have experts who can help employees prove their need for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. In fact, 96.7% of claimants who receive our Social Security services are approved for Social Security disability benefits.

Some employees experience disability to such a degree that they will not be able to return to any occupation. We have teamed up with Social Security Advocates for the Disabled (SSAD) to assist those individuals with their Social Security disability claims. Consider this:

  • Social Security Administration applications for disability have increased annually for seven straight years
  • Social Security Administration denies 65% of initial claims
  • Social Security Administration only allows 60 days for an appeal or the process needs to start over
  • Social Security Administration denies 80% of claims at reconsideration

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is complex, emotionally demanding and time consuming. It is important to work with a knowledgeable advocate who can help with the details involved in filing. Long-term disability and Social Security regulations are different. Even though employees may receive LTD benefits, they could be denied Social Security disability. Under the Social Security Administration, employees must have a severe physical and/or mental impairment that is likely to:

  • Result in death, or
  • Prevent them from working for at least 12 months in their regular occupation or any other occupations that exist in significant numbers in the national economy

For most people under age 50, the consideration for benefits is if the employee can perform any job that exists. It doesn't matter if no one is hiring, or that another job may pay less.

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This summary provides general information about your disability benefits. It is not an insurance contract or plan document, and does not summarize all of the provisions required by law. If any provision presented here is found to be in conflict with federal or state law, that provision will be applied to comply with federal or state law. The group policy determines all the rights, benefits, limitations and exclusions of the coverage described here. For complete details, refer to your booklet.
EC 3857G - 12/2011
Content Last Updated: 12/13/2011

Returning to Work

What are your chances of not being able to earn an income?

The Personal Disability Quotient tool from The Council for Disability Awareness can help you calculate your odds of an inury or illness.

Disability Quotient Tool

This Income/Expense Review calculator from The Council for Disability Awareness helps you estimate what might happen if your income stopped because of a disability.

Income/Expense Review calculator

Social Security Administration analyzes disability claims by age.

Social Security Administration
Sample Claim

Have a question? Call us at 1.800.986.3343

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