Leaving Your Job
|Can I negotiate a severance package?|
|Should I phase-out of my job or leave cold turkey?|
Once you have decided that you must leave your job, there are certain legal issues that should be considered.
|Q:||Can I negotiate a severance package?|
A: In many instances, it is possible to negotiate a severance package. Many employers will provide salary and/or medical benefit continuation, if you provide them with a release of legal claims. If you decide to take such a package, you must be careful not to endanger your ability to apply for disability benefits under the company's long term disability plan. Long term disability plans only cover you if you become disabled while employed. If you resign and then only later apply for disability benefits, you may find it difficult to prove that you became disabled before you resigned.
|Q:||Should I phase-out of my job or leave cold turkey?|
A: Out of a sense of duty to the job and to co-workers, many individuals decide to phase-out of their job rather than go cold turkey. vThis often assists your employer in transitioning your leaving. It also makes it easier to psychologically accept the transition in your life. However, there may be certain liabilities. You should give the issue serious thought before acting.
One possible liability is the effect phasing out can have on your pension benefit. Many pension plan benefits are based on multiplying your years of service by a percentage of your final average salary. It is possible that by phasing out, you adversely affect your final average salary lowering the amount of your pension benefit. You should therefore read the summary plan description of your pension plan and consult a professional before making a decision.
Another possible liability is the effect it has on your disability benefit. As with your pension benefit, most long term disability plans provide you with a percentage of your income or salary. Phasing out of your job, may reduce your disability benefit by lowering your salary. You should therefore read the summary plan description of your disability plan and consult a professional before making a decision.
Phasing-out of your job may also affect your ability to be awarded disability benefits in the first place. This is particularly true if you phase out over an extended period of time and change some or all of your job duties. Many long term disability plans provide benefits if you cannot perform the material duties of your regular occupation. By phasing out of your job, you may be changing the "material duties" of your occupation for purposes of the plan. Take the example of a surgeon who phases out of his job by only performing office examinations instead of surgery. To obtain disability benefits, the surgeon might have to demonstrate the inability to perform office examinations. It may no longer be sufficient to demonstrate the inability to perform surgery. Thus by phasing out, the surgeon may have made it more difficult to satisfy the definition of disability under the plan.
By pressing yourself during the phase-out period, you also may artificially raise your burden of proof. To establish that you are totally disabled, you may have to show that your condition has worsened. By pushing yourself you may have unintentionally established that you are able to do the job despite your disability.