Short-term disability is usually the result of an unexpected health crisis. Even though you may not be able to predict your need for short-term care due to a sudden illness or injury, it is important to know your options if you ever need it. Short term disability coverage is designed for workers that become temporarily disabled due to either sickness or injury and are unable to work because of it. The exact type of coverage you can get may be based on your specific insurance plan, the state you live in, and your specific circumstances.

What is Short-Term Disability?
Short-term disability insurance provides workers a way to guarantee an income so that they can support themselves and their families. If you become injured or sick and are unable to work for weeks or months at a time, this can cause a significant financial burden. This type of insurance can vary, but insurers may provide you with 50 to 70 percent of the base salary you were earning prior to the temporary disability.

Short term disability is separate from benefits received when you experience an on-the-job injury covered by worker’s compensation insurance plans provided by your employer. It is also different than long-term disability, which is used to describe a lasting injury or health issue. Because of this, short-term disability is only valid for a limited period of time, and most insurance plans come with “caps” that limit the total amount of benefits you can receive each month and the length of time you can receive these benefits.

Does Social Security Cover Short-Term Disability?
Social Security (SS) offers two different programs that cover disability: SS Disability Insurance (SSDI) and SS Income (SSI). SSDI is the primary program used to cover disability claims, but it only covers long-term disabilities that are expected to last at least one year or that may result in death. Eligibility for long-term disability relief from these programs depends on both the age you become disabled and the number of years you have been working and paying SS fees.

However, neither the SSDI or SSI programs offer any coverage for short-term or partial disability. Because of this, you must seek out short-term disability from public or private insurance providers. Five states, including California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island offer temporary disability programs. These programs offer between 50 and 66 percent of your base pay and last for either six or 12 months.

Each of these states has differing requirements to qualify for disability, and in general, there is a minimum number of days you must have worked in the state, an earnings requirement, a cap on the length of the benefits, and proof of your disability must be submitted. These programs also require that the disability be non-work related, and they often have a waiting period of at least one week until you are able to receive your benefits after you file.

If your state does not offer a public program, there are many private insurers as well. These policies often offer compensation for between six months and two years for individuals that are on their plan before a disability occurs. In some cases, these programs are paid for by employers and are included in a worker’s benefits package, but other times they must be purchased on an individual basis.

The thought of becoming disabled and being unable to work is never at the forefront of anyone’s mind, but it is important to be prepared in case of an unexpected illness or injury. While SS does not provide coverage for short-term disability, there are multiple options that can provide coverage, helping to ensure financial stability if a significant illness or injury does occur.

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