Applying for short-term disability benefits can have different meanings.

For some people, it means, “What application form must I complete to purchase a policy?” For others, it means, “How do I file a short-term disability claim so that I can enjoy income replacement benefits?”

Regardless of your reasons for asking the question, you can find straightforward answers and alternatives to replace your income.

  • Applying for a policy while pregnant or after surgery
  • Applying for benefits by filing your claim form

Applying for Short-Term Disability Coverage

Applying for short-term disability coverage means that you may need to complete a policy application form before getting sick, hurt, or pregnant. Acquiring a policy is the first and most important step to take for most people. You cannot apply for benefits or file a claim unless you first have coverage in force.

Some site visitors are automatically enrolled. A much larger group must self-enroll. However, far too many wait until it is far too late (while pregnant or after surgery), which limits your options.

Automatic Enrollment

People covered by state-mandated programs are automatically enrolled and do not need to take positive action. Only five states have mandated programs, but they are the larger states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island). People in other states often mistakenly assume they are automatically covered. They are not.

Employees with employer-paid group plans also are automatically enrolled and do not need to complete a policy application. However, this is very rare.

Self Enrollment

Everyone else must complete a policy application form with a private carrier. You must complete this step while you are still healthy enough to qualify, and before you know you need the coverage. An agent will ask medical questions, and the company can reject your application based on your answers. A new policy will exclude pre-existing conditions for twelve months.

Here are three alternatives. Choose option 3 only if you want to cover future medical conditions.

  1. Debt relief application. If you owe more than $10,000 in credit card debt, a settlement program may be a viable alternative to help you deal with a temporary loss of income.
  2. Request a personal loan. You may be able to borrow money to help pay your bills while you recover. You must repay the lender with interest once you return to work.
  3. Short-term disability quote. An agent will provide cost estimates and help you complete a new policy application to cover future medical conditions unrelated to a pre-existing condition.

Applying While Pregnant

Applying for short-term disability coverage while pregnant is a frequent theme. Normal pregnancy is a covered medical condition for policies purchased at the worksite. It all comes down to timing.

Private policies do not cover preexisting conditions until 12 months after the policy effective date. Coverage must begin prior to conception. The carrier may approve the policy application, but deny any pregnancy-related claim until the 12 months elapse.

You can apply for coverage while pregnant. Most carriers will not decline policy applications for pregnant women, but the policy will not cover the existing pregnancy.

Applying after Surgery

Things work differently when applying for short-term disability coverage after surgery. Most policies cover any surgery that is medically necessary and does not correct a preexisting health condition. Again, it all comes down to timing.

Most carriers will deny your policy application after a recent surgery. You must show evidence of good health to qualify for new coverage. If you have a policy that has been in force for more than 12 months, then applying for short-term disability after surgery means filing your claim form according to instructions.

Filing Short-Term Disability Claims

The first rule in filing short-term (temporary) disability claims is that most people must apply for coverage before the need arises, and not after. The only exception to this rule is people automatically enrolled in the state, group plans, and those eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD). However, SSD does not cover temporary medical conditions, anything not expected to last one year or longer or result in death.

Filing Claim Form

Filing a short-term disability claim form requires that you first identify the issuing company.

Download an online claims form, and follow the instructions carefully. If you work in a state with mandated coverage, visit the state’s department of labor and download an online claims form.

Filing Appeals Letters

If the carrier denies your claim, you may need to file a short-term disability claims appeal letter.

Carriers often deny claims because of insufficient documentation, or the instructions were not followed properly. Carefully review your denial letter to understand the reasons for why the claim was turned down.

An attorney can help file the appeal letter, but make sure that your documentation is correct first. Attorneys do not work free. Compare their charges with the expected benefits amount you are seeking to recover. In many cases, the total claims amounts are too small to warrant legal expenses.

Filing On Your Tax Return

You may need to file your short-term disability claim on your tax return.

Claims payments are income taxable if any portion of the premium were paid using pre-tax payroll deductions, or if your employer contributed towards the premium costs.

Consult your tax adviser.

Filing for Maternity Leave

How do you file for short-term disability for maternity leave?

Filing a claim for maternity leave benefits after a normal delivery is simple. After delivering your child, complete a specialized maternity leave claim form. Since the benefits period is fixed, so your claim can be paid upfront in a single lump sum.

  • Six weeks for vaginal delivery
  • Eight weeks for C-section delivery

Your doctor will need to sign the claim form indicating only the type of delivery. There is no need to explain why you cannot work.