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Can you purchase short-term disability insurance while pregnant?

This is a common question, typically asked when the need is most evident. Women who are expecting a baby frequently face an unpaid maternity leave before and after they give birth.

There is a three-part answer to this very common question about whether you can purchase these valuable policies even after you are already pregnant.

  • Why most women do not buy the policies
  • Why some should if offered by employer
  • Enrolling process after conception

Why Most Will Not Buy Short-Term Disability While Pregnant

Most women decline to buy short-term disability insurance while pregnant. There are many good reasons why it still makes sense to move ahead, but the one downside often outweighs the positives.

 All private carriers consider pregnancy as a preexisting condition. 

You cannot start a new policy that will cover your current pregnancy. You will need to find alternatives offering a greater chance of approval for help with your monetary needs.

Private Assistance

Buying short-term disability with a pre-existing pregnancy will not help for at least one year. In the interim, two sources of private assistance might help with your finances.

Request a maternity leave loan. If qualified, the lender may provide temporary funding to help you spend time at home recovering from childbirth and bonding with your newborn. Repay what you owe after returning to work. Improve the odds of approval with a high credit score and consistent work history.

Enroll in a debt settlement program. Mothers-to-be owing more than $10,000 in unsecured obligations (medical debt, credit cards) may find a settlement program can ease anxiety about the future. It may be difficult to stay current on these bills while taking an unpaid maternity leave.

Pregnancy Preexisting Conditions

Most carriers include two sets of legal language that discourage women from buying short-term disability while pregnant. The same language may also discourage those with existing health issues.

  • The programs will not pay claims for preexisting medical conditions during the first 12 months. Every gestation will have resolved itself long before the preexisting condition limitation expires.
  • The programs will not pay claims for normal childbirth, including C-section delivery, which occurs within the first 9 months of the effective date.

Government Assistance

If you began thinking about buying short-term disability while pregnant, you will find that no private company will cover your existing pregnancy. Government programs sometimes operate in the opposite fashion.

Health insurance plans must cover pre-existing medical conditions with no waiting period under the Affordable Care Act. A plan with a smaller deductible often lowers the out-of-pocket costs for labor and delivery. However, you must wait for the annual open enrollment period – unless you experience a qualifying life event.

State-based benefit programs can sometimes help. Learn the laws in the state where you work.

  • Five states have temporary disability programs: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. You may have coverage if you work in one of these five states. Apply for benefits payments after you are unable to work. You will need to complete some claims paperwork.
  • Twenty-two states have modernized their unemployment programs to include “compelling family reasons,” for workers who voluntarily terminate employment. Six allow for compensation on your own disability, the remainder restricts access to caretakers of sick family members. Your spouse may qualify for compensation while providing care for you at home on bed rest.
  • Fifteen state-based maternity leave laws may help protect your job rights. Several federal leave laws apply to all fifty states with qualifying criteria. Unpaid leave is the norm.

Why You Should Buy After You Are Already Pregnant

Getting short-term disability after you are already pregnant may make sense. Do it if you can get the right type of policy. It may be your one and only chance. Policies covering normal childbirth are not easy to obtain, and they are the only variety that creates maternity leave income.

You may suffer an accident or illness, and you may become pregnant again in the future. You do not want to find yourself with the same dilemma.

Other Conditions Approved

You now have a keen awareness of the importance of protecting your income. You are facing, at least, six weeks of lost income, and perhaps two weeks more if you deliver via C-section, and maybe far longer if complications arise. You may be wondering how the family will be able to get by without money coming in.

You can get approved for short-term disability after you are already pregnant to protect your income in other ways. There is always the possibility that you may need to stop working due to an accidental injury, or a serious illness. These maladies can strike anyone at any time. You may rely on your income to make ends meet at home, even if your spouse is working and is the primary breadwinner in the family.

You May Conceive Again

If you are expecting now, you may conceive again in the future and face the same dilemma. Having a policy that covers normal childbirth in place might be a good idea. You may not have the option to do so in the future.

You may change jobs. Your new employer may not offer this option – many do not. The majority of visitors to this website are looking for policies that cover normal childbirth that they can obtain directly without going through an employer. This option simply does not exist.

If your employer offers the option for you to obtain short-term disability after you are already pregnant, do it now. Your current condition will not be covered, but you will have a valuable policy that you can keep for life (or at least until you are done having children), that is very hard to get.

Enrolling in Short-Term Disability after Conception

You can enroll in short-term disability insurance after conception. For most women, nothing prevents you from enrolling a program. Most carriers do not ask pregnancy-related health questions on the application, and otherwise healthy mothers-to-be pass underwriting.

The policy simply will not cover your existing pregnancy but may cover other conditions.

No Pregnancy-Related Questions

Most women can sign up for short-term disability after conception because the underwriting process does not exclude them. Most carriers do not ask pregnancy-related medical questions in their underwriting process. This is true for group, voluntary, and direct-buy plans.

Many group policies sold at worksite locations are guaranteed issue: meaning they do not ask health questions. At some point, your employer offered the option to employees, and enough of your co-workers enrolled to meet the carrier’s participation requirements. If you are a new employee, you may be able to sign up for a policy during your initial open enrollment with no medical questions to answer.

There are also voluntary plans sold at worksite locations. Some are guaranteed issue (meaning no medical questions), others are a simplified issue (meaning just a few medical questions), and others employ full underwriting (meaning lots of very detailed medical questions).

Programs sold directly to individuals all employ full medical underwriting. In addition, there is the second limitation: they do not cover normal childbirth. However, the full underwriting application questions rarely ask if you are expecting.

Healthy Mothers-to-Be Okay

Healthy mothers-to-be can enroll in short-term disability after conception because they will not conflict with “broad net” underwriting questions. Broad net underwriting questions attempt to catch more obscure medical issues not addressed by a named medical condition.

However, if you are on bed rest, or experiencing complications, or are currently unable to work due to your condition, a broad net question could disqualify you. For example, these two questions could knock out many expectant women.

  1. Have you missed ten consecutive days of work in the last 12 months?
  2. Are you currently working?