Occupational Disability under Texas Laws
An occupational disability is a restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in a manner within the range considered normal. An occupational disability refers to the temporary or long-term reduction of persons capacity to function in an occupational setting.
A person who is disabled and unable to perform functions that he or she had performed prior to injury or accident may be entitled to collect disability compensation. Occupational disability benefits are payments made from either public or private funds that have been established in order to compensate people with disabilities who can no longer work in the same manner that they had been able to perform occupationally before an injury or accident. Common forms of occupational disability benefits include Social Security and worker's compensation plans.
In 1990 the US legislature passed the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibiting discrimination in the work place against people with disabilities. Texas law works in tandem with the ADA, Social Security, worker's compensation, OSHA and other programs to protect those that have suffered injuries leading to occupational disability.
Normally your first line of defense in the event of an occupational disability stemming from an accident is to determine whether or not you are covered by worker's compensation laws. To be eligible for worker's compensation you must be an employee of a business subscribing to the Texas worker's compensation program and your injury must have occurred as a result of your employment.
Texas employment and insurance law as well as the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) provide occupational disability benefits to those who are entitled.
Disability benefits may be either short-term or long-term. Claims may be filed under employer group plans or insurance policies, on-the-job claims, individual disability benefit policies, professional organization group plans, or claims under municipal disability benefit plans.
Occupational disability benefit claims can be difficult to pursue. If you have a disability that prevents you from working altogether it may be a simpler process. However, if your disability only prevents you from doing some things it can be more difficult to establish and define the extent of disability and it's level of entitlement. Insurance companies often deny valid long-term disability claims as a means of containing costs and increasing their bottom line.
The process of pursuing disability claims differs significantly depending on whether or not your claim is preempted by federal ERISA law. If your employer has paid any part of your disability insurance premium may have a group health and disability insurance plan from your employer that is governed by federal law. However, if the policy is purchased privately it is likely governed by state insurance law.
John Q. Lawyer
Attorney at Law
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