Can you go on vacation when you’re on short- or long-term disability?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2023 | ERISA Disability Benefits

People often assume that if they’re using their short-term disability (STD) or long-term disability (LTD) insurance to be treated for and recover from an injury or illness, they aren’t allowed to go on vacation. That’s not necessarily true. There are some things you need to be aware of, though, before you make any plans (or cancel the ones you’ve had since long before your condition arose).

First, you need to check your policy to find out what – if any – restrictions it places on travel and whether you need to notify the insurer of your travel plans. Some insurers prohibit those getting disability benefits from going on cruises or traveling outside the country. If there are restrictions, they should be clearly stated in the policy documents.

Get instructions from your medical providers

While you likely aren’t planning a scuba diving or skiing trip, it’s wise to check with your doctor(s) and other health care providers like your physical therapist to find out about restrictions to your activities. Get these in writing

Not only can this help you protect your health and safety, but it’s good documentation to have if the insurer questions your activities. For example, if you’re recovering from shoulder surgery, you can probably fly as long as you don’t lift luggage or do anything that would cause you to re-injure yourself.

It’s also wise not to be away for so long that you miss doctor visits, required scans or blood tests or physical therapy appointments. Again, you don’t want to do anything that would set back your recovery. You also need to be careful not to miss any deadlines for filing paperwork for your claim while you’re gone. 

While your disability insurer likely isn’t following you on social media to make sure you’re not faking your injury, be smart about what you post. If your boss or colleagues see pictures of you having fun and looking healthy while they’re putting in extra hours to do your job while you’re gone, it could dampen your “Welcome Back” reception. Someone could even alert your insurer. 

If you run into difficulty with your STD or LTD claims because of any travel you did while out on leave, be sure you aren’t wrongly denied your benefits. It may help to have legal guidance.