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Hello Career Coaches!

I am receiving disability payments through my employer and am currently working part-time while taking chemotherapy. Because of the decline in my current industry, I have thought about starting my own business and working in a freelance capacity on the side. However, I want to ensure that I wouldn't be committing fraud or doing anything illegal by creating a start-up, nor do I want to jeopardize my current disability arrangement. Please advise on the legality of starting a small business while receiving disability benefits through an employer. Thank you!

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  • Eva LaManna

    Eva LaManna on Nov 26, 2013

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hello, and congratulations on thinking about starting your
    own business – that’s very exciting! 

    I just want to review the basics of disability insurance taken through
    an employer as we look at your question. Disability insurance is an insurance policy that pays a portion of an
    employee’s income in the event of a temporary or permanent disability (such as cancer),
    which prevents the employee from working. This is a good option for patients
    who may be concerned about maintaining their income during an unpaid leave of
    absence. These policies can either be short-term, typically providing benefits
    for six months to one year, or long-term, providing benefits for a disability
    that is expected to last, or has lasted, for one year or longer. 

    It’s important to note that policy features vary greatly.  For that reason, I would first suggest that you
    review the terms, limitations, exclusions, and definition of “disability” in
    the policy to determine how your freelance work will affect your coverage.  For example, your company policy may
    explicitly state that money will be subtracted from your paycheck due to any
    freelancing.  Or the policy may say that
    working from home is allowable. 

    After you have reviewed yourself with the policy language and
    discovered if freelance work is allowable, then you can make the further
    decisions around if and how you will start your own business. 

    I hope this helps get you started, and please don’t hesitate to write back with any
    follow-up questions!

    Best,

    Eva LaManna, Esq. 

    Manager of Programs

    Please
    note that the above information is designed to provide general
    information on the topics presented. It is provided with the
    understanding that the expert is not engaged in rendering any legal or
    professional services in the information provided above. The information
    provided should not be used as a substitute for professional services.

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