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Short-Term Disability Benefits

You never see it coming. One day you’re just fine, and performing your job duties in a stellar fashion. The next day, you suddenly fall injured or become suddenly ill. It’s not work-related, so workers’ compensation is not an option. What do you do in this type of sudden situation? Will you still have an income to cover your expenses?

Yes. Short-term disability benefits are there for you in these situations. This provides a financial benefit by ensuring you’re paid a part of your salary for a short period of time while you are injured or ill. The benefit is only paid if you’re unable to perform your job, and in general, pays anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of your weekly gross income.

Once you file, it can take up to 14 days for your paperwork to be processed. Short-term disability coverage varies from state to state regarding how long you will be covered—from nine weeks up to a year. Most employers required you to use all of your sick days before the short-term benefit kicks in.

If you need to be out longer, then long-term disability or even a permanent disability plan takes over at that point.

Each state has quite a bit of control over how these programs are administered. First, some states don’t even require employers to carry short-term disability insurance. Short-term disability benefit plans are usually paid by the employer, but some states do allow the employer to ask employees to help pay for coverage; this is usually done by deducting a small amount each week from your paycheck. Finally, states decide how much the weekly benefit paid out will be (generally 4-60% of your salary).

Most employers will require detailed documentation from your doctor to prove the injury or illness requires you to be away from work for an extended period. While you’re on medical leave, your employer also has the right to require you to visit a company-approved medical provider who will report on the progress of your recovery. While you’re out, you are “off-the-books,” so to speak, at your employer. Instead, a third party usually manages your short-term leave, so any interaction you have will be with them.

Most employers have qualification rules. You have to work for the company full time (30 hours or more) to receive the benefit, and you have to have worked for the employer long enough.