This past week I received from the Social Security Administration notification that it had come to the conclusion that I am indeed disabled, and have been so since June 2009. This will result in monthly payments from the SSA, but the monthly private LTD insurance payments that I have been receiving since October will be reduced by a corresponding amount, so financially speaking, this event is a wash.
The other benefits are somewhat longer-term in nature. The first is that I will become eligible for Medicare coverage in November 2011. That would be several months beyond when my current COBRA coverage would end. But I may be eligible for an extension of that coverage; I must have a little dance around that issue with the company administering the COBRA plan. Of course I hope to return to work before any of these dates matter, but I must make sure that the issue is resolved in advance, in case my hopes do not come to fruition for some reason.
Second, the SSA provides for a "trial work period", lasting nine months, during which my disability status would remain unchanged, and the associated payments would continue as usual, even while I was working. If, before the end of the trial period, I found that I was unable to sustain the effort to work normally, then I would remain with the original disability status. The astonishingly good idea is to allow the disabled person to determine whether or not he is truly capable of leading a normal work life again by actually doing so, without having to completely disavow his disabled status all at once. I'm not sure how the private LTD insurance would work in such a scenario; that is something I will have to research.
Third, if the disabled person continues to work beyond the end of the trial work period, but then is eventually (within five years) forced by his condition to again stop working, he can request "expedited reinstatement", which if granted would cause payments to resume immediately, without having to begin with a new application all over again. This seems tailor-made to fit precisely the circumstances of the typical cancer patient who has achieved a precarious, possibly impermanent remission, whose disease could rise up again at any moment, forcing the patient back into a debilitating regime of rough treatment at the hands of the oncologists. Again it isn't clear how the private LTD insurance would work in this instance.