Short Term Disability Benefits

Many employees think that a serious medical condition or disability is enough reason to have their names permanently remove from their company’s roster of employees. This is because many are not aware of the length of time off work the law allows them to have or that in the event of a brief period of disability, getting time off work (without losing pay) to rest and recuperate, is legal. While no employers are mandated by any law to pay employees who incur absences due to temporary disability or illness, there are still employers who offer their workers “paid disability time off.” This paid disability time off include: sick leave for those who need a few days off from work, usually due to sickness; a short-term disability period, which usually lasts for about a week or more (a usual STD plan pays employee benefits for about 13 to 26 weeks). Sick leaves are separate and distinct from vacation leaves and other paid time off from work. Some employers grant a 10-day sick leave to their employees, which, if not used, may either be carried over (totally or partly) to the succeeding year; there are also employees who forfeit all unused sick leaves, starting a new clean slate at the start of the year. While some employers may also offer short term disability benefits, they require their employees to use all of their sick leaves first before applying for the use of other disability plans. Employees who have used up all their paid sick leaves but still need longer time for recovery can avail of paid short term disability leaves (if their employers offer these). The STD pays a part of the employee’s salary, usually between 50% and 75%, which may start either at the time when the sick leave has all been used up or after the employee has already been absent for about a week. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) grants cash benefits to individuals suffering from total permanent disability, it does not offer any type of short-term disability benefits. Short-term or temporary disability benefits are only offered in five states: California, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. This type of benefit is specifically designed to assist individuals who have a short-term, non-work-related health conditions. Short-term disability coverage is typically funded by an employer, otherwise, a person may purchase his/her own. For employer-sponsored short-term disability benefits, requirements for eligibility include:

  • Employed in your company for a set amount of time;
  • Meeting the minimum income requirements in states where they apply;
  • Being disabled for a minimum of one week before becoming eligible to receive short-term disability benefits;
  • The illness or injury must not be work related; and
  • The benefits cannot be received for longer than 26-30 weeks – or 52 weeks in California.

When a person suffers an injury or illness, it may leave him/her temporarily unable to return to work, resulting in a loss of income needed to support himself/herself or his/her family. Fortunately, many employers provide short-term disability insurance plans that allow eligible employees to collect a percentage (typically 50-70%) of their salary for a brief period of time (typically 3-6 months). However, other disability options may be available for those with short-term disabilities. It is for this reason that many individuals who are unable to work because of a short-term disability or illness turn to a lawyer for help. With a skilled legal professional’s guidance, people who need financial assistance are often able to quickly identify the best benefits to pursue.  

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