Illinois does not provide state short-term disability benefits to address medical conditions associated with off-the-job accidents and illnesses.

People who work in IL must purchase private coverage to protect their income from temporary losses – before the need arises. On the other hand, the state does oversee two programs that cover different situations.

Social Security addresses long-term disabilities from non-occupation health conditions. Meanwhile, Worker’s Compensation deals with on-the-job injuries and sicknesses that could be temporary or permanent.

Short-Term Disability in IL

Short-term disability insurance in Illinois covers temporary medical conditions (lasting less than one year) caused by off-the-job (non-occupational) accidents and illnesses. Since the state chooses not to have a mandatory program, residents must buy a policy from a private company before becoming sick, hurt, or pregnant.

  • You cannot file a claim for coverage you do not have
  • New policies exclude pre-existing conditions for one year
  • You must show evidence of good health to buy a new plan

Applications

Applying for short-term disability can mean purchasing a new policy or filing a claim. Since Illinois does not have a state program, each person must be proactive to enjoy wage replacement benefits when needed.

Buy

Request a short-term disability quote to start the process. An agent licensed in IL may contact you to review premium pricing, policy features, and complete an application for coverage.

You must show evidence of good health to qualify to buy a new policy. Also, you must be actively working and earning an income.

Claim

File a short-term disability claim with the insurance company that issued your policy. You cannot apply for benefits through the state because IL does not have a program.

Follow the instructions carefully and note that the claim form may require three signatures.

  1. A licensed physician indicating the medical reason you cannot perform your regular work duties
  2. Your employer verifying that you stopped working and receiving income
  3. The insured person confirming that the statements are true

Pregnancy

Short-term disability for pregnancy is the primary form of maternity leave pay because Illinois does not have a paid family leave program. However, women must purchase a policy from a private company before she conceives.

All insurance companies will exclude coverage for any pre-existing condition (including pregnancy) for at least twelve months. Therefore, timing is crucial.

  • Sign up at work if offered for the best benefits. Only workplace policies cover mom’s recovery from normal labor and delivery – a planned event.
  • Purchase coverage outside of your employer for greater convenience, but lose the benefits for normal childbirth.

Unemployment

Collecting unemployment could be a viable source of wage benefits after your temporary disability ends. Illinois law requires that applicants be physically able to work, and actively seeking new employment.

The legal requirements also spell out exceptions for people who voluntarily leave their job for a good cause reason. You could qualify for up to twenty-six weeks of unemployment compensation if a licensed and practicing physician deemed you physically unable to perform your work duties.[1]

IL State Disability Benefits

Illinois state disability benefits do not cover temporary medical conditions (lasting one year or less) caused by off-the-job (non-occupational) accidents and sicknesses. As mentioned above, residents must address these possible losses themselves.

However, the state does administer two programs that address occupation-related and permanent medical conditions: Worker’s Compensation, and Social Security.

Hurt at Work

Worker’s Compensation is the primary form of Illinois state disability benefits for people injured on the job or dealing with an occupational illness. Your employer must purchase this government-mandated coverage, which addresses temporary and permanent medical conditions.[2]

Filing

File a Worker’s Compensation disability claim with the insurance company contracted by your employer, if hurt on the job. Notify your boss immediately, and follow the instructions carefully to avoid delays in processing the paperwork.

Contact the human resources department of your employer to identify the insurance company. Also, the IL Worker’s Compensation Commission maintains an online directory to verify coverage and provide the name of the insurer.

Consider hiring an attorney if the company denies your claim or does not grant the level of help you think is appropriate and warranted.

Body Parts

The Illinois schedule of body parts can provide a good benchmark for the type of benefits your case could warrant. For example, claimants should expect the insurance company to adhere to specific standards after you suffer a permanent partial disability.

Body Part# of Weeks
Disfigurement162
Fingers13 – 76
Hand205
Arm253 – 323
Leg215 – 296
Foot167
Eye162 – 173
Ear215

Social Security

Social Security is the second form of state disability insurance in Illinois. The federal government runs the program in coordination with the IL Department of Human Services (IDHS).[3]

IDHS administers claims on behalf of residents dealing with non-occupational (off-the-job) medical conditions expected to last at least one year, or continue for the rest of the applicant’s life (long-term).

Applicants must wait for an average of ninety days for an initial decision. If denied, the appeals can drag on longer. Consider hiring an attorney to speed the process.

SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are available to eligible IL residents who are unable to perform any work, have been employed, and made FICA tax wage contributions.

SSDI qualifying criteria are rigorous and many applicants are not eligible. You must have a medical condition that prevents you from performing work in “any occupation.”

  • You can no longer work in your previous job
  • You cannot adjust to new work

SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is are available to eligible IL residents who have limited income and resources and have a permanent disability.

Estate planning attorneys often help applicants with their SSI cases. Potential recipients often require guardianship paperwork, special needs trusts, and other legal documents to safeguard future government benefits from resource requirements.

[1] (820 ILCS 405/601) (from Ch. 48, par. 431)

[2] IL Worker’s Compensation Commission

[3] IL Department of Human Services – IDHS