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Success Stories

Principal Life offers a variety of solutions to help employees return to work. These solutions vary from purchasing adaptive devices to returning to work part-time. Vocational consultants can help determine which option is the best fit.


Part-Time Return To Work

Working part-time may help claimants return to their jobs faster.

Example: Gradual return to work

An audiologist had severe osteoarthritis, which led to a knee replacement. Her vocational consultant worked closely with the claims manager, the claimant and her co-workers to develop a plan for her to return to work. The consultant spoke at length with them about the positive experiences Principal Life sees in having claimants go back to work gradually. Working together, they developed an appropriate and agreed-upon gradual return to work program. After a month of part-time work, the claimant was able to return to full-time work.

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Purchasing Adaptive Devices

The purchase of adaptive devices can prove very useful in keeping someone working.

Example: Ergonomic and software recommendations

An immigration attorney became disabled due to a brain injury from a stroke during childbirth. It left her with deficits to both her upper and lower extremities.

Principal Life's vocational consultant worked with her on a plan to gradually return to work, starting at just two hours a day at home. A month later she began working in the office for two hours. The vocational consultant helped clarify her work activities and determine if she would benefit from accommodations. Local vocational and technical experts were brought in to complete a job analysis in order to develop ergonomic and software recommendations.

The claimant has been able to increase her hours and continues to work on a part-time basis. The use of adaptive equipment purchased by Principal Life and the training on it have helped her continue to work. She hopes to advance to full-time work.

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Pre-Disability Services

Sometimes the best solution is to intercede before a disability claim is filed.

Example: Proactive tests lead to adaptive device

A company's human resources manager called Principal Life about an employee who was having hearing problems. The employee was in a leadership position, and the hearing loss impacted her productivity, particularly communication over the phone and in meetings with staff. She wanted to remain at work if possible, but wondered if she should file a claim. Her employer also wanted to know what the options were.

After confirming the condition with the employee's audiologist and health provider, Principal Life found a local organization that could assist her in trying hearing aids to meet her needs at work and at home. This agency tested and fit her for the correct aids, and helped her learn how to use them in various situations and environments.

Principal Life assisted her in purchasing the hearing aids through the early intervention/preventative long-term disability benefit feature. By working with the claimant on the front end, Principal Life was able to help her from having to file a claim. And more importantly, it allowed her to maintain her work schedule and remain effective and efficient.

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Rehabilitation Settlement

Offering rehabilitation settlements can be a very effective way to help disability claimants get on with their lives. These settlements have a rehabilitation component tied to them and may assist the claimant with covering the cost of a training program, expensive assistive devices or funding a self-employed business opportunity.

Example: Funding a business opportunity

A claimant did not have a high school diploma and had worked in a manual labor position. Unfortunately, he suffered a back injury at work. Although he was able to continue to walk with a cane, it became clear that drastic changes in his work environment were needed. His doctor made several recommendations for modifications that would allow him to work.

The claimant wanted to return to work, but needed a more flexible opportunity where he would have more control over his job duties, hours, etc. Members of his family had been in the restaurant business so he decided to pursue that, but he found obtaining funding for his venture was difficult.

His Principal Life vocational consultant approached him about a rehabilitation settlement. The claimant felt this would be a good way to fund his business plans. Given the issues he was facing, it is doubtful he would have been able to start a restaurant without the vocational and financial support he received from Principal Life.

Example: Training and assistive equipment

A claimant faced a variety of medical challenges that resulted in using a wheelchair for mobility. He also had difficulty with repetitive use of his hands. As part of his rehabilitation and vocational training, he began training in computer-aided design (CAD). Because of his medical issues, though, he was limited in the number of hours he could take training classes. Government vocational resources did not provide help because his progress was too slow. Principal Life was able to offer this claimant a rehabilitation settlement so he could proceed with his training (on his timetable), pay for new assistive equipment and move forward with his life.

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Proactive Skill-Based Training

Often one of the most effective ways to return to work is to have proactive skill-based training.

Example: Training for a new occupation

A warehouse employee had to stop working because of a severe foot injury. He and his physician tried a variety of treatments. Eventually his foot improved, but he still continued to experience tingling in his toes after standing for long periods of time.

Principal Life's vocational consultant worked with the claimant to help him find a new occupation. Together, they determined he was interested in becoming a bowling alley lane mechanic. Principal Life covered the cost of a training course and he was able to secure a job. The training course also provided him with the skills to perform other occupations.

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Recurring Disability

A recurring disability occurs when an employee is disabled, returns to work and is then disabled again due to the same or related cause.

Example: Manager has recurring disability

A manager suffering from depression and anxiety stopped working and sought treatment from a psychiatrist. After treatment, he returned to work for a few weeks but had poor judgment, impaired decision making, depression and anxiety. The manager again stopped working and sought treatment, which included medication and therapy. According to his psychiatrist, the manager should see a behavior change in six weeks. The manager expresses interest in returning to work when his condition improves. Because this person's work was interrupted for the same or related cause within six months, this case is considered a recurring disability.

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These examples are provided for illustrative purposes only. Mention of a treatment or service is not a guarantee of coverage under any coverage insured or administered by Principal Life. The group policy determines all rights, benefits, exclusions and limitations of the coverage described here.
EC 3857C - 12/2011
Content Last Updated: 12/12/2011

More Success Stories
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Read more examples of how Principal Life has helped employees return to work.

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