Can you purchase short term disability while pregnant? This is a common question, typically asked when the need is most evident. Women who are expecting a baby frequently are facing an unpaid maternity leave when she leaves work to give birth, and spend time bonding with her baby.
Twenty five percent of women experience one or more complications of pregnancy and may need to stop working weeks, or months before her scheduled due date. Lost time at work is typically unpaid unless a policy is in place when this occurs. This often leaves families with a huge hole in the budget, and expenses usually rise in tandem.
There is a three part answer to this very common question:
- You can purchase short term disability while pregnant
- You probably won’t buy when you learn the limitations
- You really should purchase a policy covering childbirth if you can
You can purchase short term disability while pregnant
You can purchase short term disability insurance while you are already pregnant. This answer holds true for group policies, individual policies bought at work, and those purchased directly.
Many group policies sold at worksite locations are guaranteed issue: meaning that no health questions are asked. At some point your employer offered the option to employees, and enough of your co-workers enrolled in the policy to meet the carrier’s participation requirements. If you are a new employee, you can get a policy during your initial open enrollment with no medical questions to answer.
There are also individual policies sold at worksite locations. Some are guaranteed issue (meaning no medical questions), others are simplified issue (meaning just a few medical questions), and others employ full underwriting (meaning lots of very detailed medical questions).
Individual policies sold directly all employ full medical underwriting. And there is a second limitation: they do not cover normal childbirth, no matter when you purchase your policy.
The key point to understand with all of these policies – they do not ask if you are already pregnant. An existing healthy pregnancy does not prevent you from purchasing a policy.
However if you are experiencing complications, or are currently unable to work due to your condition, there may be other medical questions (like have you missed ten consecutive days of work, or are you currently working) that may disqualify you for coverage.
You probably won’t buy when you learn the limitations
Most women decline to purchase short term disability while pregnant for one simple reason: their current pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition and will not be covered. There are many good reasons why purchasing a policy makes sense, but that one downside outweighs the positives.
The primary reason to purchase a policy is to protect your income in case of accidents and illnesses that prevent you from working and earning a paycheck. That reason remains and never goes away. The simple fact that you asked this question is an indication that your income is needed to help sustain the family budget.
But many expectant families face an increase in expenses (extra medical bills, baby furniture, clothing, infant formula, etc.) followed by a loss of income. Adding to expenses by purchasing an insurance policy is hard to justify. Here are a few options that may help:
See if you are covered by state disability. Five states have mandated plans.
Tap into unemployment compensation. Twenty two states have modernized their unemployment programs to include “compelling family reasons”. Some allow for compensation on your own disability, others restrict access to caretakers of sick family members.
Protect your job rights by learning federal and state maternity leave laws.
You should purchase a policy covering childbirth
You should purchase short term disability insurance covering normal childbirth while pregnant – if you can. These policies are not easy to get. They are only available as voluntary benefits through groups at the worksite. If your employer offers this option, take advantage while you can. Many policies are portable, meaning that you can continue the coverage no matter where you work.
Remember that people change jobs. Your new employer may not offer this option – many don’t. The majority of visitors to this website are looking for policies that cover normal childbirth that they can purchase directly as an individual. This option simply does not exist.
If you already pregnant you have a keen awareness of the importance of protecting your income. You are facing at least six weeks of lost income, and perhaps two weeks more is you deliver via c-section, and maybe far longer if complications arise. You may be wondering how the family will be able to get by without money coming in.
But there is always the possibility that you may need to stop working due to an accidental injury, or a serious illness. These maladies can strike anyone at anytime. One out of three workers will experience a disabling condition sometime during their working career. You may rely on your income to make ends meet at home, even if your spouse is working and is the primary breadwinner in the family.
If you are pregnant now, you may be pregnant again in the future and face the same dilemma. Purchasing a policy that covers normal childbirth would be vital coverage to have.
If your employer offers the option for you to purchase short term disability insurance while pregnant, buy it now. Your current pregnancy will not be covered, but you will have a valuable policy that you can keep for life (or at least until you are done having children), that is very hard to get.