Georgia does not offer state short-term disability insurance to private workers covering off-the-job accidents and illnesses.

People must purchase a private policy prior to becoming sick, hurt, or pregnant in order to apply for benefits. A new policy excludes pre-existing medical conditions for 12 months.

Where do you turn for answers? Follow the four-part outline for help replacing income while unable to work.

  1. Completing applications for benefits, assistance, or a new policy
  2. Options for pregnancy complications and recovery from childbirth
  3. Laws providing job and health care protections
  4. State-based plans covering on-the-job accidents and permanent conditions

Georgia Short-Term Disability Benefits

The State of Georgia does not offer a program covering off-the-job accidents and illnesses. New policies exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions for at least 12 months. Therefore, most people do not qualify to file a claim for short-term disability benefits.

Complete a new policy application to cover future needs. File a claim if you already have private coverage. Otherwise, alternatives for financial assistance are the best course of action.

Disability Assistance

Finding financial assistance in Georgia in lieu of short-term disability benefits will not be easy. Some private and government programs could help a few people.

Personal Loan

Meet unsecured loan requirements and fund a temporary leave from work with borrowed money. The emergency funding can help you stay current with regular bills. However, it is not a long-term solution.

Borrow money only if you are certain that you will recover quickly, and that your employer will hold your job open. You must repay the lender with interest. This will make matters worse if you are unable to resume earning an income.

Housing Voucher

The Georgia Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) can help you pay rent if you are struggling with your finances. This is a common problem for people suffering permanent and temporary disabilities.1

Protection & Advocacy

The Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO) is a private non-profit corporation helps disabled individuals with protection and advocacy needs. Initiatives include preventing neglect and abuse, restraint and seclusion in schools, employment, and access for individuals living in the community.2

Policy Application

Request an online quote before completing a new policy application. Keep in mind that you must show evidence of good health and that a new policy will exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions for one year.

An agent may contact you to review premium estimates and help you complete a policy application. This process will answer three common questions, which most applicants determine when weighing costs versus features.

  1. How long do benefits last? The claims payment period determines the length of time. Applicants choose between 3, 6, 12, and 24 month periods. Longer periods cost more.
  2. How quickly do claim payments begin? The elimination period defines the wait. Applicants choose between 7, 14, 30, 60, and 90-day waiting times. Shorter periods cost more.
  3. How much do you get? Policies can replace up to 66% of gross monthly income, subject to a cap of $6,500. Applicants choose the coverage amount. Large amounts cost more.

Filing Claim

File a claim for short-term disability benefits in Georgia only if you purchased a private policy before becoming sick, hurt, or pregnant. Contact the private company issuing the coverage. Most companies allow customers to download a claim form from their website.

Have a doctor complete and sign the medical section on the claim form. Your employer will also need to sign the paperwork to verify that you are no longer earning an income. File the claim by faxing or mailing the paperwork. Keep copies for your records.

Georgia Short-Term Disability Pregnancy

Short-term disability insurance for pregnancy is a very popular program with Georgia women. This private policy replaces a portion of income during the time that mom is unable to work due to a maternity-related medical condition.

Two distinct policy types offer gravidity-related coverage if you meet the basic requirements.

Pregnancy Complications

Both personal and private short-term disability plans cover pregnancy complications that may cause mom to stop working prior to her delivery. A doctor’s note must indicate the medical reason (bed rest alone is insufficient) for why she cannot continue working.

  • Private plans that you can purchase outside of your employer have limited benefits.
  • Personal plans purchased at the worksite also cover pregnancy complications, with one extra bonus that makes the inconvenience worthwhile.

Maternity Leave

Only personal short-term disability (plans purchase at work) cover maternity leave after mom’s normal labor and delivery. This very popular feature makes claims payments while mom recovers from childbirth, an event many women planned nine months earlier.

  • Vaginal delivery – 6 weeks less the elimination period
  • C-section birth – 8 weeks less the elimination period

Ask your employer to offer voluntary personal short-term disability. Private plans sourced outside of employers do not cover this planned medical event. Employees pay the premiums themselves. Therefore, employers can easily afford to offer paid maternity leave benefits.

Georgia Short-Term Disability Laws

There are very few Georgia short-term disability laws that extend rights to workers. Several federal regulations provided unpaid job-protected leave while certain employees are unable to work.

Leave of Absence

Georgia leave of absence laws offer job and health insurance protections for up to 12 weeks for many temporarily disabled workers. The job protections also extend to family caregivers.

The Family Medical Leave Act relates to covered employers (based on employer size) and eligible workers (based on hours worked criteria). The act pertains to employees who must stop working due to their own medical condition or the care for a sick family member.

Unemployment

Collecting unemployment due to health reasons is a poor substitute for short-term disability. Georgia unemployment laws do not allow workers file for benefits during or after a period of disability.3

  • You must be able and available to work and actively seeking new employment
  • Health reasons is not a good cause reason to quit work

Discrimination

The Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act of 1978, as amended, which makes it unlawful for a state agency to discriminate against any individual based on race, sex, age, disability, national origin, color or retaliation.4

Georgia State Disability Insurance Programs

Georgia state disability insurance programs offer income replacement for on-the-job accidents and illnesses, as well as permanent medical conditions. However, the programs do not help workers with temporary medical conditions resulting from off-the-job sickness or injury.

Temporary Disability

Workers compensation functions like Georgia state temporary disability insurance for on-the-job accidents and illnesses. GA law requires that businesses that regularly employ three or more people must purchase or provide workers compensation insurance.

The state-mandated benefits include the following.5

  • Income replacement for disabilities
    • Total
    • Temporary partial
    • Permanent partial
  • Death benefits
  • Medical care

State Tax

Georgia does not impose a state disability insurance payroll tax since it does not offer a program covering off-the-job accidents and illnesses. However, workers do contribute indirectly towards the funding of several income replacement entitlements.

Even when businesses carry 100% of any cost, it indirectly raises the price of labor.

  • Employers fund 100% workers compensation premiums
  • Workers contribute 50% of FICA taxes, which fund Social Security Disability
  • Employers fund 100% of unemployment insurance premiums

Disability Determination Services

The Georgia Disability Adjudication Services (DAS) is a state agency that makes Social Security disability determinations under an agreement with the federal government.

Social Security does not cover temporary disabilities. Any adult applying for benefits must demonstrate that he or she has a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents any substantial gainful activity and has lasted or is expected to last for a period of 12 continuous months or is expected to result in death.”6

People waiting for approval often need financial help. If eligible, Social Security Disability will make back payments covering the period between the date of application, and date of approval.

State Employees

Georgia state employees have access to a short-term disability insurance plan. Each agency determines whether the plan is contributory or non-contributory. Verify coverage by logging into the GA Breeze online portal.

  • Contributory means the employee must elect coverage and pay the premiums using post-tax payroll deductions.
  • Non-contributory means that the agency pays the premiums.

Eligible people include a regular full-time employee of the State of Georgia or of an agency. Public school teachers and non-certificated personnel also qualify.7

Sources:

  1. Housing Voucher
  2. Protection & Advocacy
  3. Unemployment Laws
  4. Fair Employment Practices Act
  5. Workers Compensation
  6. Disability Adjudication Services
  7. State Employees
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