Short-term disability benefits in Massachusetts provide vital assistance. In fact, they could help anyone who is unable to pay his or her regular bills while unable to work.

Unfortunately, many people assume that the Commonwealth offers something to replace their income during a job absence.

A state-mandated Massachusetts temporary disability insurance program does not yet exist.

Discover your options if you are pregnant, currently disabled, or want to buy coverage for future conditions.

  • Forms for alternative assistance, new policies, and filing claims
  • Covering pregnancy complications and maternity leave
  • Laws providing job protections and other rights

Massachusetts Short-Term Disability Application Forms

Massachusetts short-term disability application forms offer little help to most residents.

  1. The Commonwealth does not offer a state-mandated program
  2. Private policies do not cover preexisting health conditions
  3. You must purchase private coverage before getting sick, hurt, or pregnant

People who wait until something bad happens have few options. You cannot apply for benefits that you do not have. Below are several alternatives that may help.

Loan Request Form

Complete a loan eligibility form to obtain emergency funding to deal with a brief loss of income. If approved, the lender will deposit cash directly into your bank account. Use the money to stay current on your regular bills while you are unable to work.

Be careful about borrowing money while away not earning money. This is not a grant. You must repay the lender with interest in monthly installments. Make sure that you will recover quickly. Verify that your employer will hold your job open.

Debt Relief Application

Debt consolidation programs offer delayed relief. Complete this online form if you owe more than $10,000 in unsecured obligations (credit cards, medical bills). Folks dealing with a temporary disability often fall hopelessly behind on these existing monthly bills.

Financial hardship is very common when income drops at the same time that medical expenses rise. Households living check-to-check before an unexpected health event suffer the most. A settlement program may provide assistance over time. The company will negotiate on your behalf.

Individual Application

Request a quote for individual short-term disability insurance to cover future losses. A new policy will not cover any preexisting condition for at least 12 months. You must show evidence of good health in order to qualify for coverage.

An agent licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may contact you. Learn about the monthly premium costs for a variety of individual policy configurations.

  • Elimination period: how quickly claim payments begin
  • Benefit period: how long claim payments last
  • Monthly amount: the percentage of income replaced subject to a limit

The agent can also assist you in completing a new policy application form. The agent will submit the signed application to the insurance company for underwriting review. If approved, the company will issue a new policy.

Claim Form

Complete a short-term disability claim form to apply for benefits – if you purchased a private policy before becoming sick, hurt, or pregnant. Download the paperwork from the issuing company website in order to file a claim.

The claim form will contain three main sections and requires three signatures.

  1. Policyholder identity information
  2. Doctor’s note indicating medical reason you cannot work
  3. Employer section verifying that you are no longer earning an income

Short-Term Disability Maternity Leave Massachusetts

Short-term disability for maternity leave is very popular in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth is considering legislation for a state-mandated paid maternity leave program. However, as of early 2018, it has yet to become law.

In the interim, women must purchase private coverage in order to enjoy income protection during pregnancy complications, and after her labor and delivery for normal childbirth. Pay careful attention to key distinctions.

  • Begin prior to conception
  • Choose where to purchase
    • Plans bought outside of employer groups have less value
    • Those sourced at the worksite cover normal labor and delivery

Pregnancy Complications

Individual short-term disability in Massachusetts covers pregnancy complications that occur prior to mom’s due date. Approximately one-third of expectant women experience medical problems. Doctors frequently order the mother to stop working to rest at home in order to protect the health of her and her baby.

A pregnancy bed rest beginning in the second trimester could last as long as six months. This is a very long time to go without an income. Therefore, it makes great sense to buy this type of policy before conception.

Normal Childbirth

Individual short-term disability in Massachusetts does not cover mom’s recovery from labor and delivery. Women having a normal childbirth experience do not receive maternity leave income from this policy type.

However, group plans purchased at the worksite will cover mom’s recovery from normal labor and delivery. Employees can purchase voluntary personal policies at work, and fund the monthly premiums via payroll deduction – if the employer makes the option available.

Women should ask their employer to provide a voluntary option to all employees. Since workers pay the premiums, employers bear no direct cost in offering paid maternity leave benefits.

Short-Term Disability Laws in Massachusetts

Short-term disability laws in Massachusetts require workers to take proactive action. The Commonwealth does not have a state-mandated program covering temporary disabilities caused by non-occupational accidents or sicknesses.

The state does have other regulations that offer job protections while a disabled worker recovers at home.

Job Protections

Two Massachusetts family medical leave laws provide unpaid job and health insurance protections for workers suffering a temporary disability. The legal rights can last up to 36 weeks or offer nothing at all. The length of time depends on employer size, part-time versus full-time status, and the reason for the work absence.

  • The state-based Parental Leave Act (PLA) provides 8 weeks of legal protections for both men and women for each child born or adopted in a given year. Parents of twins enjoy more time off.
  • The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of legal protections to workers dealing with their own health condition. It extends similar rights to family caregivers.

Unemployment

Collecting unemployment for health reasons in Massachusetts is a poor substitute for short-term disability insurance. Several aspects of the unemployment law make this statement true.

  1. Unemployment insurance covers people who lose their job through no fault of their own. Those covered under FMLA or PLA remain employed.
  2. Disabled workers remain ineligible until they recover. Four basic requirements exclude benefits until this time.
    1. Attend a career center seminar
    2. Be physically able to work
    3. Engage in work search activities
    4. Be ready and available to work
  3. Workers terminated or quitting because of a health condition must show a good cause reason – once they are able and available.
    1. Urgent
    2. Compelling
    3. Necessitous

Lawyers

Hiring short-term disability lawyers to fight a claim offers a poor return. Most residents in Massachusetts simply do not have coverage in place. There is nobody for the attorney to sue in court.

For the minority that does have a policy in place, the expected claim payments may not justify the attorney’s legal fees. The disbursements do not last long enough. The most common benefit periods are 6, 12, or 24 months. In addition, many people recover and return to work before then.

Those waiting for Social Security Disability approval find that hiring a lawyer makes financial sense. Permanent medical conditions last a lifetime. Now the return on legal fees is much higher because the claims payments could last for decades rather than months.

Income Taxable

Short-term disability benefits in Massachusetts are sometimes income taxable. The rules governing taxation depend on how the person paid the premiums.

  • After-tax premiums yield tax-free benefits. This happens frequently with individual policies purchased outside of employer groups. Women buying policies at work should opt for after-tax contributions if they are planning a pregnancy – as the odds of filing a future claim are very high.
  • Before-tax premiums yield taxable benefits. Men and older women find that pretax payroll contributions are best when claims odds are low. They recognize immediate and certain tax savings.
  • Employer paid premiums yield taxable benefits. The employee pays income tax on the proportion paid by employer versus any after-tax contributions. This occurs rarely.

Paid Family Leave

The Massachusetts Senate passed the Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill (H.2172). However, this regulation has yet to become official law as of early 2018.

The proposed legislation provides for state-mandated temporary disability insurance. The program would pay up to 50% of income during its first year and would increase each year after. Claims payments would last for up to 26 weeks.

Stay tuned for updates.