Short Term Disability: Pregnancy, Maternity Leave

short term disability for pregnancyShort term disability insurance covering normal pregnancy and childbirth creates maternity leave pay. Benefits may be paid when both mom and baby are perfectly healthy.

Plus, additional benefits may also be paid during pregnancy bed rest prior to delivery, or if postpartum complications delay your return to work.

Learn how short term disability works before getting pregnant, during pregnancy, and while on maternity leave.

  • Enjoy maternity leave income
  • Gain security for the unexpected
  • Worry less about paying your bills


applying-for-benefits-100Apply for maternity leave benefits by filing your claim form after your delivery. Benefits are payable when the policy starts prior to conception only. Complete an express claim form to expedite processing for normal delivery.

More detailed information may be needed if taking leave prior to delivery, or extending leave because of postpartum disorders.

Short Term Disability for Maternity Leave

Short term disability insurance for maternity leave generates payments while you recover from normal childbirth,  an event many people plan in advance.

There is a six week cash payment for a vaginal birth, and an eight week payment for a cesarean delivery. Payments begin after satisfying your policy elimination period which is most commonly one or two weeks. Your maternity leave benefit payment for delivering a perfectly healthy baby may be several multiples of the premium paid in advance, making your policy self funding.

Reasons to Extend Leave

Postpartum problems are the most common reasons to extend short term disability for maternity leave. Having a baby is a high risk activity. Things may not go the way you envisioned. You may be injured during delivery, or develop an infection. The main disorders that might affect you after a vaginal delivery include fissures, infections, and postpartum hemorrhage. The leading risk factors include:

  • A baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • Use of forceps or vacuum
  • Repair of large tear

Delivery via c-section is a relatively safe surgical procedure, but entails a higher risk of complications as it is far more invasive. The most common disorders associated with this surgery are blood clots in your legs or lungs, anesthesia related nausea, and bowel movement problems (ileus).

Postpartum Depression

Many new mothers experience postpartum depression after delivery. This change in mood may be caused by a variety of factors including:

  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Lack of sleep
  • Changes in work relationships

You may experience feelings of extreme sadness which may affect your ability to return to work. Check your policy language to see if mental disorders are part of the policy benefit. Postpartum depression is generally not considered a valid reason to extend short term disability.

Returning to Work

The length of benefit payments for short term disability for maternity leave is determined by medical necessity. Benefit payments continue as long as your doctor indicates you are unable to work, or the policy benefit period ends.

For women who are not returning to work they may want to keep their policies in force. While purchased only at work, the policies are individually owned. That means that new mothers who quit work can keep coverage in force in case they plan to have another baby. Not every employer makes these plans available.

Your plans for returning to work do not impact benefit payments. A choice to stay at home longer to bond with your baby does not impact benefit payments. The same holds true for policy holders not returning to work, or quitting their job after maternity leave.


short-term-disability-quotes-100Request a short term disability quote online to determine what your policy might cost based upon your income, industry of your employer, and the state where you live. Validate the value.

The monthly premium cost that you pay in advance of delivery may be a small fraction of the benefits paid back to you while recovering from childbirth. This ratio of premium cost to childbirth benefit is the key to creating maternity leave pay.

Short Term Disability before Pregnancy

The ideal time to begin thinking about short term disability insurance is before getting pregnant.  Most private policies contain two exclusions that impact pregnancy: one for preexisting conditions, and one for childbirth. Plus, these policies can be difficult to find and may require extra steps. Plan ahead!

How to get a Policy

What has overwhelming advantages to growing families is a money loser for insurers. So there are a few extra steps needed in order to qualify. The biggest tripping point for most people is the need to purchase your policy through an employer. Many site visitors are seeking policies that can be purchased online directly as an individual.

If you want a policy that generates maternity leave income for recovery from normal childbirth there is only one source: voluntary employee benefits.

Pregnancy Preexisting Conditions

Short term disability pregnancy pre existing conditions are generally not covered. Most policies contain exclusions for pre existing medical conditions. You can learn more about purchasing short term disability while pregnant on a related blog article. There are two pregnancy-related policy exclusions that generate the majority of denied claims.

  1. A pre existing condition may means having a sickness or physical condition for which you were treated, received medical advice, or had taken medication within 12 months before the policy effective date.  If you become disabled because of a pre existing condition, the policy will not make benefit payments if the disability occurs during the first 12 months the policy is in force.
  2. Giving birth as the result of a normal pregnancy, including Cesarean, which occurs within nine months of the policy effective date is excluded from coverage.

Short Term Disability during Pregnancy

Many people begin thinking about short term disability during pregnancy. While expecting a baby we often become more aware of the need for income security after having a baby. But income security may also be important when mom needs to take leave before giving birth. The policy works differently during pregnancy depending upon when coverage begins: before or after conception.

Pregnancy Disability Leave Reasons

For women who purchase policies prior to conception there are a number of reasons to use short term disability during pregnancy leave: high risk pregnancies, miscarriage, bed rest, and complications.

High risk pregnancies are most common with twin pregnancies, when the mother is older, or when other medical factors are involved. Having a high-risk pregnancy by itself does not qualify as a disability. Your doctor’s note must include a medical reason why you are unable to perform the primary duties of your full time occupation.

Ten to twenty percent of conceptions end in miscarriage. After miscarriage mom may miss time from work to recover. The length of the benefit payment will vary based upon the time needed to physically recover from the Dilation and Curettage (D&C) and return to work. A doctor’s note may be required when filing the claim.

get-disability-childbirth-100Get a policy covering normal childbirth. Only policies covering normal childbirth create maternity leave income. Purchase short term disability before getting pregnant. This allows you to cover something you expect to happen.

By timing the start date of your policy correctly you may find that the benefits you receive are several times higher than the premium payments you made in advance.

Pregnancy Bed Rest

Pregnancy bed rest is commonly prescribed by doctors before delivering your baby. A doctor’s note prescribing bed rest must include a medical reason for the leave from work. Bed rest by itself is not a qualifying reason to file a claim.

Twenty five percent of pregnancies result in one or more medical complications. Your doctor may order you to take leave from work to protect your health, and the viability of your newborn. The most common complications covered under short term disability insurance are:

  • Ectopic Pregnancy - When the embryo implants outside the uterus
  • RH Negative Disease - The mother develops antibodies against her baby
  • Preterm Labor - Mother’s body tries to deliver the baby before reaching full development
  • Group B Streptococcus - Bacterial infection in the vagina
  • Placenta Previa - When the cervix is clogged by the covering layer of the uterus
  • Gestational Diabetes - Mother’s body does not make enough insulin

Supplemental short term disability is the policy type most in demand but hardest to acquire. The policies cover normal childbirth, in addition to complications. The one caveat that prevents more women from taking advantage is the requirement to purchase through payroll deduction at work. Ask your employer to give you this option!