Applying for Temporary & Short-Term Disability in Ohio

Ohio does not mandate short-term disability insurance covering off-the-job accidents and illnesses for private industry employees.

However, many government workers have this benefit automatically, but not all.

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 Ohio

In Ohio, short-term disability is often voluntary because the state does not require employers to provide or fund the benefit for specific non-government employees.  

Individuals working for private companies 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 Ohio without understanding that the state does not require the program for some workers while providing it for others.

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 and those working for the federal or state government.

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.

State Employees

State government employees can apply for short-term disability benefits because the Ohio Revised Code requires coverage for bargaining unit employees.

The program provides financial assistance “in the event that you cannot perform the duties of your position due to a non-work-related disabling illness, injury or condition for more than 14 consecutive calendar days.”

Federal Employees

Female federal government personnel in Ohio can apply for short-term disability benefits after giving birth because the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) mandates the coverage.

The FEPLA replaces 100% of income for up to twelve weeks after a qualifying birth. The employee must meet FMLA eligibility criteria for hours worked and time served at the agency.

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 during open enrollment 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 Ohio. In addition to purchasing coverage before filing a claim, you must have a qualifying medical condition. Plus, payments last 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.


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.

Benefit Duration

Short-term disability in Ohio lasts as long as the benefit period stated in the policy or as long as you remain unable to work due to a covered medical condition, whichever is less.

The benefit period defines how long benefits 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
  • 6 months
  • 12 months
  • 24 months

Mandatory Temporary Disability in Ohio

In Ohio, 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 Ohio 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 Ohio 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 through the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC) and promptly notify your employer after suffering a job-related accident. You can file your claim through three channels.

  • Online: Complete the First Report of Injury, Occupational Disease, or Death (FROI).
  • Mail or Fax: Print the (FROI), complete it, and then submit it to BWC by mail or fax to 866-336-8352.
  • Phone: Call BWC at 800-644-6292 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EST) or a local BWC customer service office.