Does Short-Term Disability Cover Care of Family Members?

Many people ask whether long-term or short-term disability insurance covers the care of family members because of the financial hardship caused by lost income.

Unfortunately, the answer is no, and you will need to find other alternatives to help you survive financially.

Luckily, options do exist to help you cope with the situation. But you may have to patch together an array of programs – if you meet the qualifications and your state supports the benefit.

For instance, you might be able to find multiple ways to get paid for being a family caretaker and protect your job and health insurance benefits.

Short-Term Disability for Children

You cannot take long-term or short-term disability to care for a child when you remain physically capable of performing your job duties – the policies honor claims for the insured individual with a qualifying medical condition.

First, other alternatives offer critical benefits for general family caretaking duties (children, spouses, and elderly parents).

Caring for Sick Child

Likewise, you cannot take short-term disability to care for a sick child – even when they have a qualifying medical condition. Dependents do not work and earn an income and are not eligible for the coverage. 

Filing a claim for temporary benefits will not help you replace lost income when you take off work to watch over your child with an illness. However, two alternatives might help.

  • SSSI can assist parents of disabled children via monthly support payments that help them offset the lost income connected to missed work due to caretaking responsibilities.
  • Childcare Assistance Programs provide vouchers and subsidies to low-income households making it more affordable to hire helpers outside of the home
  • Paid sick leave programs are a far better avenue when a young child has an illness. Many employers provide this benefit voluntarily, and at least thirteen states have laws requiring them to do so.

Caring for Newborn

You cannot use short-term disability to care for a newborn baby because the policies do not cover infants or caretaking duties. However, this question raises a critical distinction about how the coverage works differently for each new parent.

Short-term disability covers maternity leave for mothers while their condition prevents them from working full-time, which can happen in three phases.

  1. Medical complications of pregnancy before birth
  2. Recovery from labor and delivery
  3. Postpartum health problems that delay a return to work

The insurance never pays for paternity leave because fathers remain able to perform the duties of their full-time occupation. 

Short-Term Disability for Spouses

Long-term and short-term disability covers spouses only when they are the insured individual. Most private and public programs pertain to one person only. Unlike other insurance programs, you do not choose between plans covering husband/wife, single parent, or the entire family.

Caring for Sick Spouse

You cannot take short-term disability for a spouse’s illness when you are the insured individual. All policies limit claims to the covered person, not the husband or wife.

Filing an unemployment claim for medical reasons could be a more viable approach after your spouse recovers. Many states define a good cause reason for quitting to include caring for a family member with a severe illness or injury. However, you must meet three universal criteria first.

  1. Physically able to work (recovered)
  2. Available for employment (not caretaking)
  3. Actively seeking a new job

Spouse’s Insurance

Many women wonder if they can get short-term disability through their husband’s insurance. In most cases, the answer is no because the issuing companies underwrite the policies to cover one person at a time or the entire group of employees.

Buying individual short-term disability outside of employers is a better option than going through your spouse’s insurance. Your choices will be far superior.

You can get income replacement through your husband’s personal accident insurance – if offered at his worksite. However, the plan might only cover injuries or limit the monthly benefit for illnesses.

FAQ About Caring for Family Members

Short and long-term disability insurance does not cover the care of family members. Scour through this list of frequently asked questions to learn more about related topics that might help you navigate through the wilderness of government benefits.