Disability Claims for Registered Nurses

Nurses often do not get the credit, which is so well deserved, as they are some of the hardest workers in the world.  They save lives every day, bring comfort to patients and their families and often are the intermediary between the family and other health care professionals. In performing their jobs, they endure physical, mental, and emotional challenges every day, and often have trauma associated with the work. 

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Nurses have an array of conditions which disable them, some are readily apparent (like orthopedic disabilities), while others are less so (mental health, stress, PTSD, anxiety, or depression).  Newfield Law Group helps nurses with disabilities, whether from a private policy of insurance or through the hospital’s group LTD (ERISA) disability insurance policy. After over two decades representing disabled nurses with disability claims and seeing the array of disability claim issues and the evolution of nursing, these claims have become more challenging since COVID 19.  

Like all professionals, many nurses took out long-term disability insurance to protect their finances, and to maintain a household in the event of sickness or injury. Nurses are underpaid, and the income protection is also less than what it might take to maintain a lifestyle, often compelling an otherwise disabled nurse to continue working even faced with significant impairments in their ability to function.  

There are many types of Nurses, from Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Nurse Anesthetists, Home Health Care Nurses, Neonatal Nurses, Critical Care nurses, and Clinical Nurses. While many are involved with day to day patient care, some nurses transition from patient care to management, taking an administrative position in a hospital or healthcare facility.  

The roles are vastly different, but some policies have permitted disability insurance companies to consider a patient care nurse to be the equivalent of an administrative nurse and fail to give consideration to the significant physical requirements of a nurse providing patient care.  If a nurse becomes disabled, it is important to consider how to frame their occupational duties with the claim.

Although nurses are always under stress, following COVID 19, and the attendant issues surrounding the work environment, masking, and the sheer volume of sick and dying patients, the stress imposed on nurses hit the tipping point.   We saw a huge increase in nurse disability claims following COVID 19.  Even though one thinks nurses can stay calm under all kinds of conditions, the pace of emergency patients, lack of critical resources and support from administrations at their hospitals, and just the volume of sick and dying, took its toll. 

Disability Claims for Private Policy or ERISA LTD

Many nurses carry private disability insurance, while also carrying group LTD (ERISA) policies through the hospital which employes them. The best disability insurance policy is the one that contains an “own occupation” provision. This will be under a private policy of insurance, often through Principal, Guardian, UNUM or Mass Mutual.  It may insure their own occupation for the duration of the policy.  In contrast, the group LTD (ERISA) that is procured through employment will likely have a limited period of own occupation coverage.  

Own occupation insurance is protecting the nurse’s ability to perform the services and tasks of their profession, as a nurse.  After a period of time with the group LTD (ERISA) policy, it often transitions to an “any occupation” definition of disability, often after twenty four months.  There, in contrast with the private policy, the nurse who has a claim under the ERISA policy may be paid for twenty four months, but then see the claim terminated, and benefits end. 

At that point, simply being unable to be a nurse will not suffice and proof of further impairment must be supported. Moreover, many of these group LTD (ERISA) policies will contain a limited benefit period (often twenty four months) for disabilities caused or contributed to by mental health.  Since we know so many nurses suffer from mental health challenges from the workplace, these issues must be guided and Newfield Law Group helps nurses navigate the challenges of the disability claim process.  

We invite you to call our office for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are a national firm, based in New York.  During our conversation, we will be able to give you information about your claim, the insurance company and what your options are to combat what the disability insurance company is trying to do.  We will share insight into the process and how we might add value to your claim.

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