South Carolina Short-Term Disability: Applying for Benefits

Many South Carolina workers want to know how to apply for short-term disability benefits after an accident, becoming sick, or getting pregnant.

Wage replacement is crucial when you cannot perform your job duties because food, clothing, and shelter expenses continue. Plus, you now have extra bills for doctor and hospital visits.

SC has no mandatory program covering off-the-job disabilities lasting less than twelve months. Therefore, most people must purchase coverage from a private insurance company before the need arises.

South Carolina laws provide limited job protections for about half the workers in the Palmetto State but do not address lost earnings.

Short-Term Disability in SC

Having coverage in force before becoming sick, hurt, or pregnant is the number one rule to follow when applying for short-term disability in South Carolina. The state has no mandatory program covering off-the-job (non-occupational) accidents or illnesses.  

Filing Claims

Apply for short-term disability benefits by filing a claim with the insurance company that issued your policy. Of course, this alternative only works if you purchased coverage before getting sick, hurt, or pregnant.

Free grant money for bills and personal use might be a better alternative for injured or sick individuals without coverage. The lost earnings connected with an extended work absence could make you eligible for various government programs to help low-income households.

New Policy

Apply for short-term disability coverage by completing a new policy application. An agent licensed in South Carolina must assist you in completing the paperwork and submitting it to the insurance company for underwriting review.

Request a short-term disability quote to get a quick estimate of the monthly premiums you need to pay to protect your paycheck from future accidents and illnesses. Three features you select affect your monthly costs.

  1. Elimination Period: how quickly claim payments begin
  2. Benefit Period: the time claim payments continue
  3. Monthly Amount: the size of the check


The South Carolina Public Employees Benefit Authority (PEBA) does not offer short-term disability. However, government workers and public school teachers can apply for income support if their medical condition lasts over 90 days.

Employees enrolled in PEBA health insurance also get basic long-term disability coverage with a 90-day elimination period at no additional cost. Furthermore, participants can elect a supplemental plan, which boosts the primary benefit above the small $800 maximum monthly amount.

Temporary Disability in SC

South Carolina workers applying for temporary disability benefits have a greater chance of success because they have the coverage. The government mandates participation in two programs that honor claims in specific circumstances.

Social Security

Social Security covers temporary disabilities caused by off-the-job medical conditions that prevent South Carolina residents from working for at least twelve months. The federal government forces most workers to participate and fund premiums through payroll deductions (FICA taxes).

Apply for temporary disability through Social Security. Ignore the myth that SSDI only covers permanent medical conditions and refer to the government-published definition.

“Which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

Workers Compensation

Workers’ Compensation covers temporary disability caused by on-the-job injuries and illness of any duration that prevents you from earning an income. South Carolina requires most employers to purchase a policy for all employees.

Apply for temporary disability through Workers’ Compensation by completing the appropriate claims forms and submitting them to the insurance company selected by your employer. Also, notify your employer immediately after suffering a job-related medical event.

SC Disability Laws

Various leave of absence laws in South Carolina may impact your finances while away from the job during a short-term disability.


The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides limited job security and health insurance continuation to some South Carolina workers away from the job during a short-term disability.

  • Limited: ends after twelve weeks
  • Some: eligible employees at covered employers

You can be fired while on short-term disability if you are out of work longer than the twelve weeks of FMLA job protections or sooner if not covered under the law.  

Maternity Leave

Women in South Carolina should consider purchasing short-term disability insurance before conception to enjoy partial maternity leave pay after their baby arrives. You cannot buy coverage once you are already pregnant.

South Carolina maternity leave laws do not address lost income for new mothers by forcing everybody to pay into a state-mandated program. Therefore, you have to take proactive steps while planning your pregnancy.


South Carolina unemployment laws prevent workers from collecting benefits during a short-term disability. Three universal criteria prevent people from qualifying.

  1. Physically able to work
  2. Available for employment
  3. Actively seeking a new job

You can apply for medical unemployment but will not qualify for benefits until you have recovered from your injury or illness and meet the abovementioned criteria. Also, your boss must have terminated your employment.

SC unemployment code section 41-35-120 (B)(1) makes it possible to collect benefits after recovery, provided you lost your job due to a “compelling family circumstance” per the state’s legal definition.

  1. Because of the illness or impairment of the individual
  2. Due to the disease or impairment of an immediate family member