When the national mental health parity law went into effect last year, many of us were relieved our health insurance companies could no longer treat the mental health coverage they offered any differently from traditional coverage. While this was a big step for health insurance companies, the law did not apply to other types of insurance, such as long-term disability insurance.
Long-term disability insurance is usually offered through work, though you can purchase it individually. It is intended to provide income to employees who develop a disability that prevents them from working. The type of disability covered varies from company to company, and from plan to plan. Not all disability insurance offers coverage for mental health.
When an employer purchases disability insurance coverage for their employees, they may choose to purchase a plan that has limited coverage. Perhaps the plan offers only two years of disability payments for mental health disabilities but offers unlimited coverage for physical disabilities. Employees don’t always know what their policy covers, or for how long. Be sure to read your insurance plan’s policy. What is covered? How long can you expect to be covered? Under which circumstances will your coverage end?
If you are currently receiving private disability benefits and have a limited coverage plan, it is good to start planning as soon as possible for when it will end. Will you need to move somewhere more affordable? If so, now is a good time to contact your local public housing authority and get on the subsidized housing waiting list, if it is open. Have you applied for social security disability? The application process can take a few weeks, so apply before your insurance runs out. If you have applied and been rejected, do you think it is possible you may be able to work? If so, there are a number of programs specifically for people who have mental illnesses geared towards getting into the workforce again.
If you need help finding resources or planning for when your insurance coverage ends, contact an MHAM advocate at 612-334-6840 between 9 and 4:30, Monday through Friday