The length of time you can take off for short-term disability depends on your employer’s disability insurance policy. Generally, a short-term disability policy will cover an employee for up to three to six months. However, some policies that include long-term disability coverage may have short-term disability insurance benefits that last up to 12 months.
Short-term disability provides financial support for injured employees who are unable to perform their job due to an illness or injury. This policy ensures that injured employees have the financial support they need to meet their basic needs during out-of-work recovery. In addition, short-term disability protects employers from having to financially support a valuable employee who cannot work temporarily.
In This Article
Finding Out How Long You Can Take for Short-Term Disability
Employers in North Carolina and South Carolina are not required to offer their employees short-term disability benefits. It is completely optional.
If you have been injured and cannot work while you recover, you should find out if your employer offers short-term disability. If they do have a policy, review the policy on your own, with your employer or human resources officer, or with an attorney to understand the qualifications for benefits, the application process, and for how long you can receive benefits.
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Qualifying for Short-Term Disability
To qualify for short-term disability, you must have a medical professional certify that your injury or illness prevents you from being able to do your job. Some conditions or situations that are likely covered by a short-term disability policy include:
- Pregnancy, birth, and C-sections
- Surgery rehabilitation
- Severe illness
- Some mental health conditions
Situations not covered by short-term disability include:
- Work-related injuries or illness, which workers’ compensation would cover
- Injuries sustained while committing a crime
In addition, employers may not offer short-term disability to part-time employees; you may have to be a full-time employee to receive short-term disability benefits. However, if you’re a self-employed individual or independent contractor, you may be able to purchase your own disability insurance policy.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Disability
Short-term disability is meant for employees who are unable to work temporarily as they seek treatment and recover from an injury or illness. This benefit covers a portion of the employee’s income during their temporary leave. Employees typically have up to three to six months, though some policies may provide up to 12 months of short-term disability.
Long-term disability is an extension of short-term disability coverage that kicks in after an employee’s available short-term disability benefits stop. Unlike short-term disability, an employee can only qualify for long-term disability benefits if their illness or injury prevents them from working any job. Long-term disability benefits can last up to 36 months, though some policies extend coverage for up to 10 years.
However, if an employee is eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance, an employer-sponsored long-term disability policy will no longer be available.
Short-Term Disability vs. Family/Medical Leave
Short-term disability is an optional benefit you may have through your employer or your self-funded insurance policy. If you successfully file a claim for short-term disability benefits, you can receive regular payments of between 40% and 60% of your income while you recover.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a legal program that grants unpaid leave to injured or sick employees. This leave is job-protected, meaning that your employer cannot let you go due to your inability to work. You can only get up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave every 12 months. In addition, a medical doctor must certify why you’re taking off, whether it be to recover from an injury or illness or to care for a sick or injured family member.
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What If Short-Term Disability Runs Out?
If you use up all your short-term disability, you may have other options for protecting your job and receiving income support while you recover. For example, if neither you nor your employer has long-term disability insurance, you may be able to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, you can only apply for SSDI if you have enough recent work credits based on your age.
If you were injured while at work or while completing work duties outside of your workplace, you should file a workers’ compensation claim instead. Short-term disability doesn’t cover work-related injuries, and you can receive workers’ compensation benefits for longer periods of time. Filing the correct claim ensures that you and your family have the money you need to support yourselves until you can return to work.
Get Help With Your Disability Claims From Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC
If you need help recovering financial support when you’re unable to work, a disability claims lawyer can help you navigate this process. Our attorneys will help explain all options you have and guide you to the best claim for your situation.
At Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, we can also help you apply for Social Security Disability and workers’ compensation as well as appeal denials. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation.
Call or text 828.286.3866 or complete a Case Evaluation form