Short-term disability insurance for postal employees provides important income protection. Many insurers choose not to cover USPS workers because of the physical nature of the job, and the high claims rates associated with repetitive tasks.

However, there are at least two viable options.

More than one carrier classifies postal workers as federal government employees and allows them to participate in a voluntary group plan. In addition, a union offers an alternative with limitations to dues-paying members.

Also, women who purchase the ideal short-term disability policy prior to conception can enjoy valuable maternity leave benefits before her delivery date and after.

USPS Short-Term Disability Benefits

USPS short-term disability insurance with robust benefit choices can be hard to find. The repetitive tasks associated with the postal occupation (walking, lifting, bending, and standing) leads to high claims experience. This makes insurers nervous.

However, three options do exist with unique pros and cons and one common exclusion for pre-existing health conditions.

  1. Individual plans bought outside of work have strict application rules
  2. Voluntary policies for federal employees have the richest features
  3. UPWU plans have limited benefits for dues-paying members only

Pre-Existing Conditions

All short-term disability policy types have one common exclusion that applies across the board to all wage earners – including USPS employees. They exclude pre-existing health conditions.

 You must purchase coverage before becoming sick, hurt, or pregnant in order to buy a policy or file a claim for benefits. 

These three alternatives may be a more fruitful place to turn if you already have an existing medical condition (injury, sickness, or pending surgery).

  1. Personal loans offer emergency cash for temporary losses
  2. Debt settlement programs could offer relief from obligations over time
  3. State-based financial assistance resources apply in some situations

Federal Employees

Postal workers are federal government employees. The federal government employs over 2 million people in the United States in diverse roles and job functions – many clerical. In other words, insurers can offset high-risk policyholders with a large pool of low-risk lives.

Short-term disability for federal employees will cover USPS workers with a much better risk classification. Therefore, expect to realize these advantages when purchasing through this channel.

An agent can take your application over the phone. Use your LiteBlue web portal to log into the PostalEase system to enter your payroll deduction for the policy premiums.

LiteBlue Insurance Options

LiteBlue is a government-run website for career and non-career Postal Service workers to manage and communicate details about their employee benefits programs online. However, short-term disability is not one of the options.

This is what you can manage via LiteBlue here.

  • Health Benefits (FEHB)
  • USPS Health Benefits Plan
  • Dental/Vision Program (FEDVIP)
  • Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)
  • Long Term Care (FLTCIP)
  • Affordable Care Act
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Health Savings Account (HSA)
  • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

National Association of Letter Carriers

Dues-paying members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) have the opportunity to enroll in medical and life insurance programs and an accidental death policy. Once again, short-term disability is not listed.

  • Health Benefit Plan (HBP) covers letter carriers and their families
  • NALC Group Accidental Death Benefit pays $5,000 to all members at no cost
  • Mutual Benefit Association (MBA) provides life insurance to members

Dues-paying NALC members can learn more about the program here.

American Postal Workers Union

Dues-paying members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) do have the opportunity to enroll in a short-term disability program through the voluntary benefits plan. However, the issuing company limits its exposure because of the high-risk nature of the occupation.

  • Longer elimination periods
    • 30-day minimum
    • 90-day for pregnancy
  • Smaller monthly amount ($3,500 monthly cap)
  • Shorter claims payment duration (12-month max)

Dues-paying APWU members can learn more about the program here.

USPS Employee Maternity Leave

Buying short-term disability insurance prior to conception and through the ideal channel can help USPS employees during maternity leave. All three possible channels will exclude pre-existing pregnancy from coverage. Here are the pros and cons of each maternity leave option for postal employees.

  1. Individual plans bought outside of work do not cover normal childbirth
  2. Federal employee plans have shorter elimination periods and longer claim payments
  3. APWU policies contain a 90-day wait for pregnancy-related absences

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) governs job protections for postal employees during maternity and paternity leave. Qualifying workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from the job for mom’s own pregnancy-related disability or to bond with a newborn baby at home.

Three FMLA maternity leave eligibility criteria (at least 12 months of USPS work service, 1,250 hours in the 12 months, and serious health condition) affect people in non-career positions more frequently.

  • Postal Support Employees (PSE) are work on a temporary basis. Newly hired PSE personnel may not meet the 12 months of service criteria.
  • Rural Carrier Associates (RCA) work as needed when regular carriers have scheduled days off or take vacation days and deliver mail from a vehicle. Some RCA workers may not meet the 1,250-hour threshold.
  • City Carrier Associates (CCA) also work as needed but deliver mail on foot more frequently. Female CCA employs may find the walking intolerable while pregnant and qualify under FMLA more easily.

Working While Pregnant

Voluntary short-term disability can help postal employees who are unable to work while pregnant. The primary advantage of this policy type is the coverage for pregnancy and childbirth.

  • Short elimination periods generate a faster claim payment
  • Coverage for normal childbirth equals maternity leave pay

The inability to work while pregnant is a qualifying condition when you are unable to perform the duties of your full-time occupation for a covered medical reason. Each job role places different types of physical stress, which can lead to a valid claim.

  • Incoming Desk Services: stand for long periods behind retail registers
  • Sorting Centers: lift heavy mail bags and parcels
  • Delivery and Pickup: walk on foot for long distances every day
Posted