Can I Quit My Job While On Long Term Disability? Can I Get Fired?

by Steve Fields | October 15th, 2018

If you become sick and unable to work, you may need to think about the possibility of taking time off from work. In some cases, employees may consider quitting their job if they don’t expect to return to work or be able to continue with the same job. Before making a decision, consider the consequences of each scenario.

The options you have available for taking time off typically depend on what your employer offers for paid time off (PTO), unpaid time off and disability benefits. In some cases, the employer may have an employee handbook with the specific policies regarding a leave of absence or time off requests. It is important to understand and follow these rules, to avoid any issues with returning to work, once you are ready.

Your employer may also offer short-term and long-term disability benefits. Depending on how long you anticipate being off work, you may be able to apply for one or both of these benefits to help offset your loss of income while on leave. Each policy has specific criteria for qualifying for benefits, as well as the duration that the benefits will be paid.

In some cases, employees who are receiving Long Term Disability benefits realize that they will not be able to return to work and wonder if they should resign. However, if your disability benefits are employer-sponsored, then quitting your job may jeopardize your ability to continue receiving those benefits. It’s crucial to explore all options before making such an important decision about your future.

At Fields Law, our Short Term and Long Term Disability lawyers can answer your questions and help you determine the best possible path to maximize the benefits that you can receive.

Can I get fired for applying for Long Term Disability benefits?

Long term disability policies do not offer any job protection, however there may be some legal protections and safeguards that would prevent your employer from terminating you while you are out on disability.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The first right you have would be under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is a federal law that provides employees with up to twelve weeks of leave time per year. FMLA may be used for your own medical conditions or to care for members of your immediate family.

To qualify for FMLA, you must meet three criteria. First, you must work for an employer that employs at least 50 employees, all of which are located within 75 miles of each other. Second, you have worked for the employer for at least one year. Third, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer in the prior year.

As long as you are on FMLA, your employer may not terminate you. Upon returning to work, your employer must allow you to work in your old position or a position that is similar.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The second right you have would be under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects individuals from being terminated from their job due to a disability. Moreover, the ADA also provides that employers must offer to make reasonable accommodations for you and your disability as long as it will not cause them undue hardship.

Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits

Another possibility for receiving wage loss and medical benefits could include Workers’ Compensation disability benefits if your injury or disability occurred at work or because of your occupation.

Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation law includes language which addresses wrongful termination, often referred to as the retaliation statute, and specifically states that an employer cannot fire (or even threaten to fire) an employee for seeking Workers’ Compensation benefits.

If you feel that you have been wrongfully terminated after applying for Workers’ Compensation benefits, speak with a Minnesota Workers Compensation attorney at Fields Law today.

The options you have available for disability benefits and job security can be complicated and confusing. We can help you understand the pros and cons of each scenario, and help you decide which is best for you and your family.

If you have any questions, please contact our disability and injury attorneys to discuss the best options for maximizing your benefits and safeguarding your job while you are unable to work.