Many disability insurance policies provide two eligibility standards for benefits. The first is sometimes referred to as the “Your Occupation” (or “Own Occupation”) standard. Under this standard, a claimant is eligible for benefits only if the disability prevents him or her from performing the essential duties of his or her own occupation
The second standard is referred to as the “Any Occupation” standard. Under this standard, a claimant is eligible for benefits only if the disability prevents him or her from performing the “essential duties of any occupation.”
Under many disability policies, claimants seeking long-term disability benefits must only meet the “Your Occupation” standard in order to collect benefits for a pre-defined period, usually 18 months to two years. At the end of that period, claimants will then have to qualify for the more rigorous “Any Occupation” standard in order to continue receiving disability benefits.
To understand how the standards work, consider the following scenario: A UPS driver with permanent and chronic back pain cannot lift objects heavier than ten pounds. She will likely qualify for disability benefits under the “Your Occupation” standard. The reason is simple. If she cannot handle most of her packages, then she cannot perform the “Essential Duties” of a delivery driver.
After a two-year-period, however, under many policies the driver will then have to qualify under the “Any Occupation” standard in order to continue receiving benefits. Here, the insurer’s determination is more complicated: Can the driver work as a dispatcher, customer representative, or any other occupation in which she did not have to lift heavy objects?