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Readers may be aware that under some circumstances workers may be able to secure disability benefits from an employer. For some, securing those benefits is a challenge. For others, holding onto them once they are awarded is an issue. Recently, a Superior Court Justice ruled on a matter concerning the payment of disability benefits.

The case involved a teacher at a private school whose position was terminated after more than 10 years, at the age of 62. The school claimed the termination was for just cause because he allegedly falsified the marks of his students and lied about how he calculated them. Not long after he was fired, the man became disabled. Though the disability was deemed to have occurred during the period of recent notice, because the school dismissed him for cause, it discontinued his disability benefit coverage.

He then sued for wrongful dismissal and the value of the long-term disability benefits he lost. The court found in favor of the man and in lieu of notice, awarded him a one year salary for wrongful termination. In doing so, it pointed to the school's action of knowingly sending out the interim marks that were false. In addition, the court presumed that the man would have qualified for long-term disability benefits. Accordingly, it found the school liable for the value of those benefits.

The school succeeded in one respect. Because both the disability and employment incomes were to be paid by the former employer, the court found that despite the fact that the former employee paid insurance premiums, that individual could not receive both disability and employment incomes at the same time. Instead, once the wrongful dismissal payments ended, disability payments could begin.

When it comes to disability benefits, facts specific to the case are often very important in determining how the case will be resolved. Lawyers who work in this field know this and can help employees navigate the system.

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