Helping Americans Get Back To Work After Disabling Illness Or Injury

by Winthrop Cashdollar

October 17, 2017

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration published a Proclamation declaring October 2017 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, calling on the Department of Labor (DOL), the Social Security Administration, and other Federal agencies to look for ways to help people disabled due to injury or a health condition stay at work or return to work.

It has long been a priority of AHIP and its member companies to help more working Americans return to work after disabling illness or injury. Most recently, we worked with a community of stakeholders brought together by the DOL Office of Disability Employment Policy on developing a new policy paper on the transition back to work and resources that can help workers rejoin the workforce.

American workers can rely on private disability income protection coverage to make their transition back to work one that’s safe and appropriate. As the policy paper states, “Private disability insurers work to identify claimants who may be able to recover and transition back to the workplace and to maximize the chances of a successful return through early intervention, assistance, and support.” For example, when private insurer return-to-work specialists identify claimants who have good prospects for returning to work, they begin a process of working with the individual, their doctors, and their employers to map out a path for a successful return to work.  The specialists help understand what to expect and what is possible along the path back to work and make sure they are getting medical treatment and rehabilitation services as needed. If assistive technologies – such as special office furniture, computer hardware, or software – might be helpful, insurer staff can help arrange for them.

Given the important role income protection plays in enabling maintaining financial security and independence, the policy action paper includes policy options to extend income protection coverage to more working Americans by, for example, tax incentives that encourage employers to offer such coverage to their employees.The paper also references model legislation adopted last year by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), the Employer-Sponsored Group Disability Income Protection Model Act – which AHIP supports. AHIP is beginning to work to advance the NCOIL model act in selected states.

Visit AHIP’s website for more information about disability income protection and how it ensures that’s disabled workers can meet their daily expenses and avoid financial hardship.

Winthrop Cashdollar is executive director of Product Policy at AHIP.