Ways to Get Short-Term Disability Benefits

by May 31, 2017

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Sometimes health conditions temporarily prevent you from doing your job or maintaining other employment. For many families, this can lead to major financial concerns and stress in a matter of weeks. Luckily, you may have ways to get short-term disability benefits until you recover from your illness or injury and can return to work, or until you qualify for long-term disability benefits.

The attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group can help you understand your options when it comes to short-term disability. Call us today at 865-566-0800.

When do short-term disability benefits take effect?

A short-term disability policy kicks in after a doctor says you cannot return to work—or cannot complete all tasks required of your job—due to an injury or illness. Depending on the policy, your benefits may begin immediately or up to two weeks later. Policies vary widely. Some cover only three months away from work while others cover a full year.

Is short-term disability the same as Social Security Disability?

Short-term disability benefits differ from Social Security Disability (SSD) because they are not generally a government benefit. They are available through a private policy in most cases and usually pay between 40 and 60% of your regular income for the first few months after you suffer an injury or receive a diagnosis.

If these benefits expire and you still cannot return to work, you may need to apply for long-term disability benefits such as SSD. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides this type of long-term benefit for workers whose disability will last a year or more. Because SSD has a five-month wait period before you can draw benefits, many short-term disability plans offer benefits for four to six months.

Do states provide any type of short-term disability programs?

Only a handful of states offer short-term disability programs. There are no federally-funded programs for short-term disability, either. For this reason, it is important to ensure your employer provides short-term disability coverage, to invest in a short-term disability insurance policy, or to file a workers’ compensation claim if your injury or illness is job-related.

How do employer group short-term disability policies work?

Most employers with competitive benefits packages offer some type of short-term disability policy. Often, this is an employer-paid benefit and the employees rarely take notice of it. However, it can be a lifesaver when the employee receives a cancer diagnosis or suffers a disabling injury. Many women also qualify for this type of benefit during pregnancy, helping their family make ends meet while they are on bed rest or otherwise unable to work.

Even though this type of policy is often paid by the employer, there is no requirement that the disabling injury or illness be job-related. This is good news if you are a part of a group plan but worry you will not qualify. Your employer can, however, require you to use any remaining sick days or paid time off before receiving your disability benefits.

Depending on how your employer pays for your policy, you may need to pay taxes on your benefits. In many cases, employers pay for these policies before taxes. If this is true in your case, you will need to pay taxes on your short-term disability.

What if I purchase my own policy?

While many people do not give much thought to their employer-provided policy, others recognize the importance of this type of insurance and invest in additional coverage. Others purchase their own policy if their employer does not provide a group policy or if they own their own business.

Individual short-term disability policies are generally available through life insurance companies and others in the financial sector, including mortgage companies and companies who handle annuities. Since you will likely pay your premiums with dollars you already paid taxes on, you should not need to pay taxes on your benefits.

It is important to note that most individual short-term disability plans require an initial consultation with your doctor before buying a policy, so you cannot invest in one after you become disabled. However, if you already have one at the time of your injury, you can file a claim and begin drawing benefits as soon as the plan allows.

What if I qualify for workers’ compensation?

If you suffer an on-the-job injury and cannot return to work for several days or more, you will need to file a workers’ compensation claim to receive temporary disability benefits. The policy paying out these benefits is separate from any employer-sponsored group short-term disability plan. These benefits come from a workers’ compensation insurance policy and usually pay out a little more than two-thirds of average weekly wages to someone who suffers a disabling injury at work.

When a doctor diagnoses you with a work-related injury or condition that prevents you from working at all, you receive temporary total disability (TTD) payments. If you can return to work but need to work only light duty, you receive temporary partial disability (TPD) payments. The amount of these benefits varies based on how much of your job you can do.

Because workers’ compensation often pays out more than any other type of temporary disability benefit and because there are other related benefits you receive, it is usually a good idea to pursue workers’ compensation benefits when you cannot work due to a work-related injury.

How can I contact a short-term disability lawyer?

The temporary disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group can help you weigh your options and determine the best way to get the short-term disability benefits you need. We understand how stressful it can be when you cannot yet return to work or are waiting to receive SSD benefits. Call our office today at 865-566-0800 to schedule a time to talk with a disability lawyer.