An Introduction to Short Term Disability


By Contributing Author

Disability can arise from a back injury that requires major surgery or a progressive health condition that leaves you unable to work. It isn’t always clear whether a health problem will lead to long-term complications. This is why short-term disability coverage exists in a variety of forms.

What Is Disability Insurance? 

Disability insurance is very different from health insurance or long term care insurance. Disability insurance pays out when you are disabled. Depending on the insurance policy, disability insurance may pay out a fraction of your pay for weeks or years. The premiums on disability insurance are based on the level of coverage, the length of time that passes before benefits kick in, your general risk and how long the policy will pay out.

Short-term disability insurance is intended to pay out for 3 to 13 weeks in most cases. Long-term disability is for truly longer terms. Depending on the policy, it may pay out as long as two years. The policy typically has a waiting period of one to two weeks before you can apply. After all, they don’t want to file a claim when you may soon recover.

What Can You Do If You Are Disabled but Don’t Have Disability Insurance? 

Short-term disability coverage is available to Pennsylvania residents who have become ill or incapacitated, but the condition is not expected to last more than a year. Your employer may already provide short-term disability insurance to employees. In fact, you may already be eligible for these benefits even though you don’t know that you’re paying the premiums, since the employer may be paying them for you.

If you have the information on your short term disability insurance policy, you can file a claim with them or file through your employer. The Human Resources or Payroll department may be able to help you. They should also be the go-to resource for filing claims with your health insurance provider.

What Happens If Your Employer Can’t or Won’t Help You? 

Ask your local lawyer about short term disability benefits. They can help you find out if your company has short term disability insurance coverage for employees. The odds that you’ll be approved for short term disability compensation go up if you are:

  • Working for a firm with 50 or more people
  • Are considered a key employee
  • Have worked at least 1300 hours over the past year

If you are not eligible for short term disability insurance, an attorney can advise you of your rights under worker’s compensation laws, the Family Medical Leave Act or personal injury law. Note that the state of Pennsylvania does not offer short term disability insurance on its own.

What Happens If My Condition Lasts More than a Year?

If you qualify for short term disability benefits, they will run out after 24 months. The next step is filing for SSDI. Social Security Disability is administered by federal government. SSDI contributions are part of the payroll taxes we all pay, assuming you’re not getting paid under the table. If you qualify for SSDI, you will automatically qualify for Medicare after 24 months regardless of your age.

Many states have supplemental benefits for Social Security Disability beneficiaries such as SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, and discounts on your utility bills.

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