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5 Facts: What is short term disability insurance?


Sometimes missing work to sit at home and watch TV counts as an excused absence. But these situations aren’t the stuff dreams are made of. If you’re home with your feet propped up in the middle of the workday without penalty, chances are you’re suffering from a short term disability. It’s important to know what is considered short term disability by an insurance company, meaning disability insurance.

Here are 5 facts to know about short term disability insurance so you can maximize your payout.

1.  What is Considered Short Term Disability?

An important thing to note when you’re referring to an injury is where it happened. Short term disability only refers to ailments that aren’t work-related.

This means they didn’t happen in the office, job site, or as a result of anything at either of those places. There are a few exceptions to this rule. 

For example, if you have a nervous breakdown at work because of stress, you might not be able to claim it as worker’s compensation. It’s tough to prove that the cause of your mental illness is completely caused by work.

Things like genetics, environmental factors, and more could be the source of your strain. The laws regarding how worker’s comp varies by state.

Consult with an attorney if you’re having issues qualifying your injury as either short term disability or worker’s compensation. Short term disability is a type of insurance benefit that should cover a portion of your income for any injuries that aren’t work-related. 

2. Where Do I Get Short Term Disability?

Most states don’t require employers to offer short term disability insurance. These states include Rhode Island, California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York.

Employers in these states offer a benefit that’s either self-funded or through an insurance company. A self-funded employer plan means they cover the expense themselves.

When you get hurt, they pay to cover a part of your income until you can come back to work. Other employers work with insurance companies to manage the payout on their own.

There are pros and cons to both options but either one requires you to prove your injury with substantial medical information. Work with HR to make sure you have the right documents on file so your claim gets expedited.

If your employer can’t or won’t offer short term disability, you can go the process alone. Contact an insurance agency for options on coverage.

The amount you pay will usually be based on your age. Expect to pay around 1 percent of your gross salary when getting your own short term disability.

3. Length of Time Matters

The key thing to note with short term disability is that it’s something you expect to end within a certain period of time. If you’ve got an illness that the doctors just can’t seem to diagnose, this isn’t necessarily short term disability.

You might need a lawyer if your illness falls into a grey area that makes it hard to define. You won’t want to miss out on income you’re entitled to over an administrative error.

Employers can opt not to payout claims that seem questionable or where you don’t seem to have intentions to return to work. 

Permanent disabilities are classified as a separate issue and aren’t covered by short term disability insurance. Make sure you’re getting the right care for your claim by getting professional legal help. 

4. It’s a Slippery Slope

Whether or not you’re still able to do your job might be up for interpretation. For example, if you injure a hand that isn’t your dominant hand. 

This is why legal help is recommended in some short term disability cases. Your employer has the right to request as much information as needed to make a fair decision.

In the meantime, if your claim isn’t being paid, it’ll put a financial strain on you while you await a final decision. People claim everything as short term disability ranging from having wisdom teeth removed to giving birth to a child.

There’s no fixed category of items that’ll necessarily ensure your claim gets approved. Each policy and short term disability insurance plan is different.

Just be sure you at least fit the first two criteria of having a non-work-related injury and that the situation is short term. The employer won’t let you collect checks on your way out to another job.

5. How Long is Short Term Disability?

Here’s another grey area when it comes to short term disability. You can’t put a finger on an exact amount of time and say it’s definitely short term disability.

There are injuries that take upwards of a year to heal. During this time, your insurance plan might still cover your income shortage.

Employers are going to look at the standard recovery times for your specific illness or injury. They’re looking to have a reasonable payout because it costs them money the longer you’re out of work.

So, things like childbirth might come into question as a cause for short term disability if you were to try and stay off work for 12 months. Keep your claim reasonable expecting your employer to follow up frequently to ensure you’re within the bounds of your claim.

Do I Need Short Term Disability Insurance?

It’s a good idea to have short term disability insurance in most cases. You never know when a non-work-related injury will cause an interruption in your income.

Don’t get caught without protection. Use an insurance broker to locate low-cost policies available in your state. 

For more information and tips, visit our blog for updates.

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