Applying for Temporary & Short-Term Disability in Georgia

Georgia does not mandate short-term disability insurance covering off-the-job accidents and illnesses lasting less than one year.  

To file a claim, you must buy a policy before getting sick, hurt, or pregnant.

Meanwhile, the government requires temporary coverage for on-the-job incidents and non-occupational medical conditions lasting twelve months or longer.

People applying for benefits may find this confusing for a good reason. It is!

Therefore, to simplify your quest, we break down the topics into two sections:  voluntary (short-term) programs for off-the-job coverage and mandatory (temporary) plans for on-the-job incidents and non-occupational conditions lasting more than twelve months

Voluntary Short-Term Disability in Georgia

In Georgia, short-term disability is often voluntary because the state does not require employers to provide or fund the benefit.   

Individuals must purchase a policy from an insurance company to protect their incomes in case of an off-the-job (non-occupational) accident or illness.  

How to Apply

Many people ask how to apply for short-term disability in Georgia without understanding that the state does not require the program.  

Applying for Benefits

Apply for short-term disability benefits by filing a claim with the insurance company or agency that issued your policy. Of course, this option works only for people who purchased coverage before getting sick, hurt, or pregnant.

If you need money now that you don’t pay back, you might want to investigate other government benefits instead. Many programs qualify you on your projected income, not what you earned in the past before becoming disabled.

Applying for Coverage

Apply for short-term disability coverage by contacting an insurance agent specializing in this product line or signing up at work during open enrollment if offered.

Outside Employer

Request a short-term disability quote for individuals if your employer does not offer a voluntary program. An agent can take your new policy application after you review the monthly premiums for various feature choices.

  • Monthly Benefits
  • Elimination Period
  • Benefit Period
Through Employer

Sign up for short-term disability at work and pay the monthly premiums through payroll deduction if your employer offers a voluntary option. However, only some provide this opportunity. Below is a sampling of some that do.

How it Works

Many people want to know how short-term disability works in Georgia. In addition to purchasing coverage before filing a claim, you must have a qualifying medical condition. The policy pays a specified weekly amount no longer than the benefit period.

What Qualifies

The medical conditions that qualify for short-term disability meet five rules.

  1. The loss of income starts after the policy’s effective date
  2. The medical event occurs while the policy is in force
  3. The policy does not explicitly exclude the condition
  4. The medical problem causes a loss of income
  5. The insured is under the care of a licensed physician

Short-term disability for pregnancy illustrates the fourth qualifying condition rule. Most policies exclude pre-existing conditions for twelve months.

You can get a new policy approved while pregnant because your condition will not disqualify you as a new applicant. However, the insurance company will deny maternity leave benefits as a pre-existing condition.

Georgia maternity leave laws do not include paid time off for mothers working in the private sector. Therefore, buying a policy before conception is a critical planning step for any prospective mother. Spread the word so that your friends don’t make the same mistake.


Short-term disability for COVID-19 helps illustrate the fifth qualifying condition rule. Your policy will not pay benefits unless the insured is under a doctor’s care.

Disability insurance does not cover the care of family members. When parents stop working to tend to a child with COVID-19, they are not under a doctor’s care. However, they could file a claim if they catch the virus and see their physician.

How Many Weeks

Short-term disability in Georgia lasts as long as the benefit period stated in the policy or for as many weeks as you cannot work due to a covered medical condition, whichever is less.

The benefit period defines how many weeks the claim payments might continue. More extended benefit periods cost more. Since most people must purchase coverage, they choose the option that fits their budget and needs.

  • 3 months (13 weeks)
  • 6 months (26 weeks)
  • 12 months (52 weeks)
  • 24 months (104 weeks)

Pay Amount

In Georgia, the insured person determines how much short-term disability pays. Since higher amounts cost more, many choose a monthly benefit that fits their budget and needs subject to two parameters.

  • Up to 66% of their full-time income
  • Maximum of $5,500 per month

Use a disability pay calculator to estimate the amount you might receive while out of work based on the three features chosen when buying the policy.

  • Elimination Period
  • Benefit Period
  • Monthly Benefit

Mandatory Temporary Disability in Georgia

In Georgia, temporary disability is mandatory because the government requires most people to participate in Social Security and Worker’s Compensation programs.

Therefore, you do not have to buy a policy before filing a claim for benefits if your sickness or injury fits the criteria for either program.

Social Security

The government requires individuals working in Georgia to fund temporary disability insurance through FICA payroll taxes. Social Security covers off-the-job (non-occupational) accidents and illnesses that prevent you from performing any substantial gainful activity for twelve months or longer.

Apply for temporary disability through Social Security if you expect your medical condition to keep you out of work for more than twelve months. Ignore the pundits claiming this program addresses permanent or long-term maladies only.

Trust the definition published by the Social Security Administration instead.

To meet our definition of disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that is either:

  • Expected to result in death
  • Has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months

Worker’s Compensation

The State of Georgia requires employers to purchase temporary disability insurance and fund the premiums. Worker’s Compensation covers on-the-job (occupational) injuries and sicknesses that cause a loss of income.

Apply for temporary disability benefits by completing Form WC-14, filing it at home securely, and sending copies to three entities.

  1. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation
  2. Your employer’s human resource department
  3. The private insurance company issuing the policy