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17. What should I do if my insurer asks me if I am interested in a rehabilitation program?

Insurers view the successful participation of those they insure in a rehabilitation program as a "win-win" for both the insured and the insurer.

It's a "win" for the insured to the extent the details of the rehabilitation agreement and program allow an insured to return to a productive and satisfying career.

It's a "win" for the insurer if the insured's return to work helps the insurer to reduce or eliminate the cost of paying a claim.

The ultimate decision that you make, however, will be unique to your particular circumstances. You may want to consult with an attorney or advocate experienced in disability claims.

Here are some of the issues you should consider:

a. Does your policy provide an optional rehabilitation benefit? Confirm this with your insurer. Ask them why they are approaching you "now" with an invitation to participate in a rehabilitation program.

b. What consideration is the Insurer Company offering you to participate in the program? For example, will they continue to pay your disability benefits if you successfully complete the program? Will they pay an amount of money that helps you transition into a new career upon completing the program? In other words, would they be willing to pay you a lump sum upon successful completion, assuming you needed some "seed" money to pursue a new occupation or career?

c. Ask your insurer if there will be any negative consequence to the handling of your claim if you simply decline the invitation. Ask your insurer if they will be responsible for any injury or further exacerbation of your disability in the event you are injured during the program.

d. If you are genuinely interested, speak with your attending physician or the medical specialist treating you for your disability to see if there is any medical risk to your participation.

e. Rehabilitation programs are only limited by one's imagination, if both the insurer and insured are both motivated to make it work. Aside from traditional work-hardening programs or specific vocational/career counseling, the insured may be able to negotiate for assistance in pursuing a college or graduate degree that would redirect their career currently stymied by a disability.