Riemer Hess has handled the long term disability needs for accountants in both the public and private sectors. Examples of common disability issues that our firm has handled for our clients include: musculoskeletal injuries to the cervical/lumbar spine and lower extremities precluding the ability to sit for prolonged periods; injuries to the upper extremities limiting the use of a computer on a frequent basis; speech deficits limiting the ability to communicate with others effectively; cognitive deficits, fatigue, and systemic pain due to autoimmune diseases limiting the ability to maintain attention/concentration, process information efficiently, or work an 8-hour workday; mental illnesses that limit the ability to interact with others.
Occupational Duties of Accountants
The occupation of an Accountant is identified as a sedentary occupation by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (4th ed.) (“DOT”) published by the U.S. Department of Labor under codes 160.162-010 and 160.162-018, which requires approximately 6 hours of sitting and 2 hours of standing/walking throughout the day.
The DOT further details the occupational requirements of Accountants, including: prepare federal, state or local tax returns for individuals, businesses or organizations; compute taxes owed according to prescribed rates, laws and regulations using a computer; advise clients regarding effects of business activities on taxes and strategies to minimize tax liability; analyze financial information; and prepare financial reports.
The Occupational Information Network (“O*NET”), an on-line database developed under the sponsorship of the DOL, identifies the occupation of Accountant under code 13-2011.01. O*NET details additional important attributes relevant to the occupation of Accountants, including: add, subtract, multiply or divide quickly and correctly; choose the right mathematical method or formula to solve a problem; communicate with others to convey information both verbally and in writing; and use logic and reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses of different approaches.
Disability Challenges of the Occupation
Insurers focus heavily on the physicality of an Accountant’s occupation, particularly the sitting requirement. While sitting is certainly a significant requirement, focusing only on that requirement does not fully assess other significant requirements that could prevent you from working. You must direct the insurer to critical occupational requirements that are commonly overlooked, such as the cognitive demands, the stress related to meeting strict deadlines, the significant amount of personal interactions, and the significant amount of computer and telephone work.
For example, Accountants must be able to maintain a very high degree of attention, concentration and focus for long periods of time to review financial information and perform necessary calculations. Accountants have to maintain frequent communication with their clients to explain tax consequences and other issues in a manner that can be understood. Accountants serving as auditors need to travel to client locations, both locally and nationally.