Ultimate Guide to Short Term Disability Insurance

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Find out how to apply for Short term disability insurance in the USA, and access the benefits you need during a temporary disability. Learn more about eligibility and the application process here.

In the United States, approximately 1 out of 4 people suffer from various forms of disability, encompassing both physical and mental challenges. Sometimes, these situations can make it hard for you to do your everyday things, especially when you can’t work because you’re temporarily not feeling well.

Short Term Disability Insurance plays a vital role in providing financial security during such periods. However, navigating the process of applying for disability benefits can be intricate and daunting, potentially leaving you and your families without essential support during challenging times.

In this article, we aim to explain the application process for disability benefits, offering clear and comprehensive guidance. Our goal is to empower you to access the support you need.

5 Different Disability Insurance 

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Let’s explore short-term disability insurance by comparing it side-by-side with similar types of coverage.

1. Difference Between Short-Term And Long-Term Disability Insurance

Short-term disability insurance is like a safety net for when you get sick or hurt and cannot work for a short time. Your job might offer this insurance. It covers you for a short time, usually 13 to 26 weeks. 

During this time, it gives you some money to help with your bills. If you have both short-term and long-term disability insurance, the short-term one helps you while you’re waiting for the long-term one to start. 

Once the long-term insurance kicks in, you switch over to that one. Having both types of insurance is a good idea because it means you won’t have to worry as much about money if you get sick or hurt. It helps keep your finances safe, whether you’re out of work for a few months or for a longer time.

2. Difference Between Short-Term Disability And Temporary Disability Insurance

Temporary disability insurance is available to workers in some states through a government program. This insurance helps when you get sick or hurt outside of work and can’t earn money. It’s different from worker’s compensation, which helps when you get hurt at work.

Not all states have temporary disability insurance, so it’s important to check if your state does. If your state offers it, see how much it would pay you if you needed it. 

If you think you would need more money, you might want to consider getting short-term disability insurance. This can help make up for any money you might lose from not working.

If your state doesn’t offer temporary disability insurance, it’s even more important to make sure you have a disability policy through your employer or one you buy yourself. This can help protect you if you ever get sick or hurt and can’t work.

3. Difference Between Short-Term Disability And Workers’ Compensation

When you get hurt or sick outside of work, SDI helps you. But if you get hurt or sick while working, you get help from workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance also pays for your medical bills and legal costs, which SDI does not cover.

The way SDI and workers’ compensation are paid for is different too. Your employer pays for workers’ compensation insurance, while you pay for SDI through deductions from your paychecks in most states, except New Jersey.

In 2024, all states except Texas say that your employer must offer workers’ compensation insurance to you.

4. Difference Between Short-Term Disability And  FMLA

Sometimes, people get confused between short-term disability and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You can use the FMLA if you need time off for family or medical reasons. It’s a law that helps workers like you. It says you can take up to 12 weeks off work without pay for:

  • Having children
  • Dealing with health problems
  • Taking care of sick family members

The law also makes sure you can’t lose your job while you’re on leave. But, it doesn’t give you money to make up for the pay you might miss while you’re off (although some employers do offer paid leave for certain situations). Also, there are rules you have to meet to qualify for FMLA leave:

  • You need to have worked for your employer for 12 months and done 1,250 hours of work.
  • The law only applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

5. Difference Between Short-Term Disability And  SSDI

Many people believe that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can help with temporary disabilities. While this can be true in some cases, getting SSDI benefits can be very hard.

If you earn more than $1,220 a month from working, Social Security usually won’t say you’re disabled. If you’re not working, Social Security will see if you can do any work. If you can, you won’t get SSDI benefits — even if it’s not the same job you did before you got hurt or sick.

From 2006 to 2015, only about 34 percent of people who applied for SSDI got approved. Even if you do get approved, the money you get may only be a small part of what you used to earn. In 2017, the average monthly SSDI payment was $1,172.

5 Easy Steps to Get Short-Term Disability Insurance

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Short-term disability insurance supports you when you’re unable to work due to illness or injury. This guide walks you through the process of obtaining and using short-term disability benefits in the USA.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

To qualify for short-term disability benefits, you must meet the criteria outlined in their policy. This may include a waiting period before benefits start. Common reasons for qualifying include being unable to do your job because of an injury, illness, or needed surgery.

Step 2: Apply for Short-Term Disability Insurance

  • To start, it’s important to check if your employer already provides short-term disability insurance. If not, you may need to purchase a policy through an insurance agent or company.
  • If your employer offers short-term disability insurance, you might be automatically enrolled or need to choose to join during a special sign-up time. 
  • If you need to buy your policy, you can do this through an insurance agent or an insurance company.

Step 3: Benefits and Coverage

Short-term disability coverage helps you when you can’t work due to an injury or illness. It usually pays you a part of your income, usually between 40% and 70%. This money is given directly to you, so you can use it for things you need.

This coverage lasts for a few months, typically between three to six months, depending on the policy you choose. Before you decide to buy a policy, it’s important to know these things.

Step 4: Filing a Claim for Short-Term Disability Benefits

If you become disabled and need to file a claim for short-term disability benefits, it’s important to let your insurance company know as soon as possible. 

You’ll need to fill out a form that asks for details about your disability, medical treatment, and work history. Your employer and doctor may also need to provide information.

Step 5: Receiving Short-Term Disability Benefits

Once your claim gets approved, you’ll begin receiving short-term disability benefits. These benefits will keep coming until you can go back to work or until the end of the benefit period mentioned in your policy.

Short-Term Disability Overview

StateWage ReplacementRateMax BenefitWeeklyBenefitPeriod (Wks)Min WorkHoursIncomeLimitAssetLimitServiceCredit
ND60% – 110%$1,20021- 4230
UT40- 70%$1,0385220
WA60 to 75%$1,3271214
WI40% to 70%$1,2002437.5

Quick walkthrough

  • Wage Replacement Rate: The percentage of your salary that is replaced by short-term disability benefits when you are unable to work due to a covered illness or injury.
  • Max Benefit Weekly: The maximum amount of money you can receive each week from short-term disability benefits.
  • Benefit Period (Wks): The number of weeks for which you can receive short-term disability benefits for a single disability.
  • Min Work Hours: The minimum number of hours you must have worked to be eligible for short-term disability benefits.
  • Income Limit: The maximum amount of income you can have and still qualify for short-term disability benefits.
  • Asset Limit: The maximum value of assets you can have and still qualify for short-term disability benefits.
  • Service Credit: The length of time you have been enrolled in a specific program or worked for an employer, which may affect your eligibility or benefits for short-term disability.


Which state has the Maximum wage Replacement Rate?

New Jersey has a maximum wage replacement rate of 85% in the USA for short-term disability benefits.

Which state has the Minimum wage Replacement Rate?

New York has a minimum wage replacement rate of 50% in the USA for short-term disability benefits

Which state has the Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount?

Colorado has a maximum weekly benefit amount of $3,000 in the USA for short-term disability benefits.

Which state has the  Minimum Weekly Benefit Amount?

Minnesota has a minimum weekly benefit amount of $300 in the USA for short-term disability benefits

Which state has the longest Benefit Period?

California has the longest benefit period for short-term disability benefits in the USA, at 52 weeks.


In summary, Short-Term Disability Insurance provides essential financial assistance if you are dealing with temporary disabilities. We’ve covered how you can apply for it, its benefits, and how it offers peace of mind during tough times. 

If you found this information valuable, please consider sharing it with others who might benefit. Your share could help someone in need access this vital support.

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Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

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