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Disability Glossary

Accommodation:  modification(s) to the worksite, the job, or employment practice.  (Also see Reasonable Accommodation)

Change in Definition:  most policies are written with a date where you must be disabled from performing any occupation in which you are qualified and can be gainfully employed.  Other policies require that you be awarded Social Security Disability benefits as of this date.  Please check the specific policy to determine the requirements for benefits to continue beyond this date.

COLA:  cost of living adjustment.  Some policies include this yearly adjustment.

Contributory:  you pay part of the premiums for disability coverage.  (Also see Non-contributory)

Disability or Disabled:  means you satisfy the Occupation and/or Earnings Test.  (Also see Partial Disability)

Doctor:  a person acting within the scope of his or her license to practice medicine, prescribe drugs or perform surgery. 

  • We also accept disability certification from medical providers such as psychologists and chiropractors.
  • Please note that if you are seeing a specialist for your primary condition, they should complete the Attending Physicians statement. 

Full Time:  the number of hours required to be eligible for disability coverage.  This number can vary from policy to policy, but not necessarily 40 hours per week.  Refer to your policy for the specific number of hours of work per week required for coverage.

Gainful Occupation:  means an occupation in which you could reasonably be expected to earn at least as much as your Schedule Amount within 12 months of your return to work.

Material Duties:  means the sets of tasks or skills required generally by employers from those engaged in an occupation which can not be reasonably accommodated.  An example of a material duty is the ability to perform full time work.

Non-contributory:  your employer pays the entire amount of premiums for disability coverage.  (Also see Contributory)

Normal Retirement Age:  as established by the Social Security Administration.

Year of Birth    
Normal Retirement Age
1937 and prior  
65 and 2 months
65 and 4 months
65 and 6 months
65 and 8 months
65 and 10 months
66 and 2 months
66 and 4 months
66 and 6 months
66 and 8 months
66 and 10 months
1960 and later  


Occupation:  means a group of jobs or related jobs in which common tasks are performed or related in terms of similar objectives and methodologies.  May also be related in terms of materials, products, worker actions, or worker characteristics.  (Also see Regular Occupation)

Offset:  reduction.  This term is used in relation to other sources of income that will reduce the schedule amount.

Partial Disability:  the ability to perform part time or limited work while retaining eligibility to receive disability benefits.  (Also see Disability)

  • In most policies, should your condition require that you return to work part-time your eligibility for benefits continues as long as you remain disabled from performing your regular occupation on a full-time basis.  In these policies, during the first twelve months of a return to work period, your policy allows you to bring home a total income of 100% of your pre-disability pay with the combination of your return to work income and your disability benefits.

Policyholder:  your employer.

Reasonable accommodation(s): means any modification(s) to the worksite, the job, or employment practices, which would allow you to perform the material duties of the occupation and which would not create an undue hardship for the employer.  (Also see Accommodation)

Regular Care and Attendance:  means care by a doctor at a frequency medically appropriate for your condition.  If your condition does not require frequent visits to your doctor, neither will we.

Regular Occupation:  means the occupation in which you were working immediately prior to becoming disabled.  (Also see Occupation)

Retirement Plan:  means a formal or informal retirement plan, whether or not under an insurance or annuity contract.

Qualifying Period:  means the length of time you must be disabled before benefits are payable.

Schedule Amount:  your policy’s benefit amount prior to any applicable maximums, minimums, limitations, offsets, withholdings or other deductions or additions. 

Vocational Rehab:  department within Sun Life that can assist you in overcoming obstacles in your efforts to return to work.  At our discretion, we can provide job search assistance and may assist with accommodation, education, family care, medical and/or moving expenses.