Short Term Disability
What You Need Versus What Your Employer Offers
When it comes to discussions of disability insurance, the area most focused on is long-term disability. This is generally because people assume that any sort of short-term disability would be easier to ride out financially, and that they already have coverage for this through their employer. While both of these may be true, neither of them negates the need for good short-term disability coverage. Relying on Worker’s Compensation alone is never a good strategy as it does take some time get approved and ONLY covers on-the-job injuries.
What You Already Have
If you have a good benefits package with your job, you probably have some short-term disability coverage. This usually provides for a portion of your income to be replaced while you are absent from your position. There are most likely limits on this coverage in regard to how many weeks you are eligible and the amount you are qualified to receive. Additionally it may require you to spend down you current paid time off or vacation pay before it kicks in.
Very few employers who do offer short-term disability policies provide enough coverage to pay all of your bills. At best, they provide a small amount of assistance that will keep you afloat, just barely. And not for a very long period of time.
What You Really Need
The term “short-term disability” does not refer to having to take a few days off for the flue. Instead, it refers to an illness or injury that is beyond the usual run-of-the-mill sick days, but not something with an indeterminate duration. Short-term disability may last for a week or two; it generally comes into play when an insured person needs to have a procedure or surgery that requires a relatively long recovery, is in an accident with moderately serious injuries and will be recovering for more than a few days or a week, or contracts a serious illness such as cancer or heart attack with a long recovery time.
Short-term disability coverage can sometimes run into long-term disability, when the period of recovery lasts longer than expected. This means that, although the word “short” is used, you could be away from work for a fairly long period of time. You need to have enough coverage to pay all of your bills and prevent your financial status from being compromised. How long can you pay all of your bills with a reduced or no income? How much do you have in savings, and do you want it all wiped out by an illness or injury?
Carrying a good short-term disability policy that covers what your employer’s policy does not is a smart move for anyone; a short-term disability may not be as life changing as a long-term one, but it can certainly leave you in a difficult position if you don’t have the right coverage.