Short-Term Disability Issues

by Amanda McMullen

If you develop a short-term disability, it may cause you to miss work for days, weeks or even months. Because many short-term disabilities disqualify you from receiving unemployment, you may experience financial problems. To protect against a potential loss of income due to short-term disability, some workers invest in short-term disability insurance.

About Short-Term Disabilities

A short-term disability is a temporary condition that prevents you from working or reduces your ability to work for up to one year. Short-term disabilities may result from accidents, injuries, physical illness, mental illness or even pregnancy. Disabilities expected to persist for more than one year are long-term disabilities.

Short-Term Disability Insurance

If you invest in short-term disability insurance, the policy will pay a fixed portion of your usual salary when a qualifying temporary disability prevents you from working. This percentage varies by policy. Some employers offer group disability insurance to their employees. You may also invest in a private short-term disability insurance policy. Most policies pay benefits for two to 26 weeks if you experience a qualifying disability.

Qualifying for Benefits

Short-term disability insurance won't cover every type of disability. If you sustain an injury while working, most policies won't cover the loss of income. In such cases, you must seek assistance from workers' compensation instead. Some policies deny coverage to individuals with certain preventable disabilities, such as drug addiction. Many policies also require documentation signed by a licensed physician before benefits may be paid.

State Disability Insurance

Some states, such as California, provide short-term disability insurance. If you work in such a state, the state's policy may cover you automatically. If not, your employer may purchase a voluntary short-term disability policy from the state, or you may invest in your own coverage. If you have short-term disability policies with the state and under your own private plan, you typically may receive supplementary income from both policies if you become temporarily disabled. However, you can't receive more than 100 percent of your usual salary.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security disability insurance provides coverage to workers in any state with a qualifying condition and work history. Short-term disabilities lasting less than one year don't typically qualify you for SSDI. However, if your condition persists for more than one year, you may apply for SSDI benefits. You may also protect yourself from income loss due to long-term disability by investing in long-term disability insurance. You may invest in long-term disability insurance through your employer or by purchasing a private plan.

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