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Short-term Disability FAQs

What are short-term disability benefits and why are they important?
Short-term disability benefits help to protect your paycheck and your standard of living if you become disabled. The benefits replace a portion of your salary if you're out of work due to a qualified illness or injury. Pregnancy also is covered as a disability.

You can use the benefits to help pay for food, housing or any usual expenses -- things you might have to cut back on or pay for with savings if you are unable to earn a paycheck.

What is an elimination period?
An elimination period begins when a member becomes eligible to receive payments. It ends when payments start to be paid. It is also known as a deductible period or waiting period.

Do I pay for a short-term disability plan?
Your employer determines the portion of the benefit expense that an employee pays for. Contact your benefits administrator for more details about your specific plan.

How do I qualify for short-term disability benefits?
Short-term disability benefits are paid if you:

  • Become disabled according to the plan's definition of disability and other requirements while covered under the plan; and
  • Remain disabled during and after the elimination period.

When should I file a claim?
You should file a short-term disability claim as soon as you or your doctor thinks that your disability will last at least as long as the elimination period. You don't have to wait until the elimination period has passed to file a claim. You can ask your benefits administrator to provide instructions for filing a claim with us.

Are my short-term disability benefits taxable?
Generally, short-term disability benefits have taxes withheld. A tax advisor can provide more information about your specific situation.

Could any other factors affect the benefit payment I receive?
If you receive benefits or income from certain other sources, your short-term disability payment will be reduced accordingly. Income from individual disability insurance policies and most deferred compensation plans (such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans) is not taken into account.

Some sources of other income that can affect benefit payments are:

  • Social Security disability benefits payable to you or your dependents
  • Social Security retirement benefits
  • Workers' Compensation, occupational disease laws or other similar legislated disability benefits
  • No-fault wage replacement benefits
  • Other group disability benefits
  • Disability, retirement or unemployment programs (federal, state or local) 
  • Payments provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Disability payments from insurance or other sources that result from an act or omission of another person who caused your disability
  • Elected retirement benefits or eligible full retirement benefits (at the later of age 62 or normal retirement date).

You are responsible for telling us about any other sources of disability income.

If you are partially disabled and working, your benefit payments may be affected. Your plan has a description of how earnings affect short-term disability benefits.

What happens to my coverage if my employment terminates?
Your coverage ends. A short-term disability plan can't be converted to an individual plan. If your employment ends during a period of disability, the benefits continue as long as you remain otherwise eligible under the plan.

What if I can't return to work?
If you still can't return to work at the end of your benefit period, you may be eligible for long-term disability benefits.

If I return to work after receiving short-term disability benefits and then go out again for the same diagnosis, is it a continuous claim or a new claim? 
You won't have to re-satisfy the elimination period if you recover from a period of disability and the same (or related) disability comes back within the time period outlined in your plan.
If you recover from your disability, return to work and a new disability occurs, this disability will be treated separately. A new elimination period is required before short-term disability benefits could begin again.

What disabilities aren't covered?
Your disability won't be covered if it doesn't meet the definition of disability in your plan.

Under certain circumstances, some disabilities that otherwise would meet the disability definition may not be covered. The list of circumstances may vary based on your employer's specific plan, but your disability is typically not covered if it:

  • Is due to any act of war (declared or undeclared)
  • Results from committing or attempting to commit a criminal act
  • Results from driving an automobile while intoxicated ("intoxicated" means the blood alcohol level of the driver meets or exceeds the level at which intoxication would be presumed under state law) 
  • Is due to insurrection, rebellion or participation in a riot or civil commotion. 
  • Is due to intentionally self-inflicted injury 
  • Is an occupational disease or injury (except for sole proprietors or partners who cannot be covered by workers' compensation law)

Also, benefits aren't payable for any period of disability during which you're confined in a penal or correctional institution for conviction of a criminal or other public offense.

Page last reviewed on January 25, 2016

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