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How to Prove an Executive/Manager is Disabled

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Riemer & Associates has handled the long term disability needs of many clients working in management positions. Examples of common disability issues that our firm has handled for our clients include: musculoskeletal injuries to the neck, back, and legs making prolonged sitting, standing, and walking impossible; injuries to the shoulders, arms, and hands limiting the use of the computer on a frequent basis; cognitive deficits, fatigue, and systemic pain due to autoimmune diseases limiting the ability to maintain attention/concentration, process information efficiently, or work a full day; mental illnesses limiting the ability to interact with supervisors, subordinates, and customers.  

Occupational Duties of Managers

Disability Lawyers in New YorkThe Occupational Information Network (“O*NET”), an on-line database developed under the sponsorship of the DOL, identifies more than 700 managerial occupations. An index of managerial jobs is available here.

For each occupation, O*NET provides a list of tasks, skills, and abilities required by the occupation. Specific managerial tasks depend on the particular occupation.

However, the tasks typically required of all managers include: setting goals for the team or group; organizing the work and assigning it to appropriate employees; monitoring and measuring whether goals are being met; and training, motivating, and evaluating employees. In addition, many managers are responsible for budgeting; purchasing; quality control; customer service; and hiring and firing employees.

For example, O*NET lists these tasks as occupational requirements for general and operations managers (code 11-1021.00):

  • Oversee activities directly related to making products or providing services.
  • Direct and coordinate activities of businesses or departments concerned with the production, pricing, sales, or distribution of products.
  • Review financial statements, sales and activity reports, and other performance data to measure productivity and goal achievement and to determine areas needing cost reduction and program improvement.
  • Manage staff, preparing work schedules and assigning specific duties.
  • Direct and coordinate organization's financial and budget activities to fund operations, maximize investments, and increase efficiency.
  • Establish and implement departmental policies, goals, objectives, and procedures, conferring with board members, organization officials, and staff members as necessary.
  • Determine staffing requirements, and interview, hire and train new employees, or oversee those personnel processes.
  • Plan and direct activities such as sales promotions, coordinating with other department heads as required.
  • Determine goods and services to be sold, and set prices and credit terms, based on forecasts of customer demand.
  • Locate, select, and procure merchandise for resale, representing management in purchase negotiations

Disability Challenges of the Occupation

Insurance companies tend to focus on three specific strength requirements of an occupation: sitting, standing and walking. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (4th ed.) (“DOT”) published by the U.S. Department of Labor rates occupations for these requirements. Most management jobs in our modern information and service economy are classified as either sedentary or light.

If you can sit for six hours, stand for one hour and walk for one hour, disability insurers will often assert that you are capable of performing a sedentary occupation. If you can stand and walk for more than one hour each day, the insurer will usually find you are capable of performing a light occupation.

While these requirements are certainly important, focusing on them neglects other significant requirements that could prevent you from working. You should direct the insurer to critical occupational requirements of management positions that are commonly overlooked, such as cognitive demands; long hours; high stress; and heavy travel.

 

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