A real-life story: How Disability Insurance offers empathetic support to the whole person

Tyler’s journey of recovery to a successful return to work

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM) and a perfect time for employers to educate employees about their available benefits that can help them plan ahead for life’s what-ifs. Employee benefits like disability income insurance coverage — including Short Term Disability (STD) and Long Term Disability (LTD) — is one such solution.

Here’s a closer look at one employee’s disability experience, and how his employer’s LTD benefit played a pivotal role in supporting him, so he could recover and return to work after becoming disabled.

Tyler’s* story: Overcoming adversity

A life changing disability may not come to mind when one thinks about their future, which can make it more challenging to prepare for such a possibility. This possibility became a reality for Tyler — a mid-50s inventory associate who worked in a distribution warehouse for a large national retail chain.

How disability benefits work

Both Short Term Disability (STD) Income Coverage and Long Term Disability (LTD) Income Insurance can help protect employees by replacing part of their income if they’re unable to work due to sickness or illness:

After completing a waiting period, STD is intended to provide protection for a disability lasting a few weeks to a few months. LTD coverage generally begins after STD has been exhausted and benefits will last until the earlier of the LTD certificate’s maximum duration or the employee is no longer disabled.

Finding a new normal with disability benefits

After almost a year-and-a-half since his accident, Tyler started regaining his motor functions and achieved such proficiency that there was a possibility of him returning to work.

Dedicated to supporting and promoting claimants’ return to work whenever possible, we extensively discussed and collaborated with Tyler, his employer, and the State Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (DVR) to understand how Tyler’s LTD insurance coverage with us could bring his return-to-work (RTW) strategy to life. The employer also brought in a Wellness Coordinator to better understand what accommodations Tyler needed.

Plus, Tyler was approved for Social Security Disability Insurance 17 months following his accident to aid his transition. It’s important to note that under LTD, an insured may be required to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. SSDI benefits received will offset and reduce the disability benefit paid.

Redefining what’s possible

As Tyler continues his recovery journey, he has increased his endurance and capabilities through continued physical therapy and training and is now starting to walk again. He’s also been able to increase his hours from 20 to 32 hours per week with his employer — and serves as a mentor to others experiencing spinal cord injuries. His LTD claim continues with Voya at a minimum benefit along with a rehabilitation incentive.

Voya has helped me succeed in life. I was thrown a curveball that I had never faced before. Voya stepped in and gave me some tools to help me hit a homerun.

Tyler’s experience is a reminder of the importance of employers having an empathetic, employee-centric culture and offering benefits that work for employees and their families.

Contact your Voya representative today to learn more about Voya’s workplace solutions that can help you empathetically support your workforce: LTD, STD and Voya Leave Management.

  1. Eye-Opening Disability Insurance Statistics and Facts for 2024, Student Loan Planner.
  2. Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2022, Social Security Administration.
  3. Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance, National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Costs are shown in 2023 dollars and vary greatly based on education, neurological impairment, and pre-injury employment history. Costs are shown in 2022 dollars and vary greatly based on education, neurological impairment, and pre-injury employment history.

*Name changed. The testimonial presented in this case study represent the individual experiences of a recent claimant and is not a guarantee of future results. It is presented here as provided and permission has been given for its use. Actual results and coverage provisions may vary.

A complete description of benefits, limitations, exclusions and termination of coverage will be provided in the certificate of insurance and riders. All coverage is subject to the terms and conditions of the group policy. If there is any discrepancy between this document and the group policy documents, the policy documents will govern. To keep coverage in force, premiums are payable up to the date of coverage termination. Insurance is issued and underwritten by ReliaStar Life Insurance Company (Minneapolis, MN) and ReliaStar Life Insurance Company of New York (Woodbury, NY). Within the State of New York, only ReliaStar Life Insurance Company of New York is admitted, and its products issued. Both are members of the Voya® family of companies. Voya Employee Benefits is a division of both companies. Product availability and specific provisions may vary by state and employer’s plan.