How To Get Short-Term Disability Approved While Pregnant?

Published on: October 19, 2022

If you are going to have a baby or contemplating giving birth to a child, it is a great turning point in your life. However, you must plan your future expenses well in advance and you may have some pragmatic questions about how long you can take off and whether will you still be earning. And will disability insurance cover incidental expenses like pregnancy and maternity?

These are relevant questions. But unfortunately, we don’t have a universal answer for them. It entirely depends on your peculiar situation- the company you work for, your financial situation, and the state you reside in.

Leave for Maternity and Pregnancy

The Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects your job while you take your time off for a period of up to 12 weeks if you need to take care of an adopted child or newborn, or a diseased family member.

However, not every family member is eligible to avail of FMLA protection. The following conditions must be satisfied to qualify for protection under this legislation:

  • Your employer has a minimum of 50 employees located within a 75-mile radius.
  • You worked there for at least 12 months.
  • You have worked for a total of at least 1,250 hours in the past year.

Generally, taking time off under PMLA doesn’t obligate the employer to pay during a medical leave. However, some states paid family leave (PFL) laws that give paid leaves to employees when they take their time off.

Paid Family Leave (PFL) In California

Many states have started recognizing the importance of parental leave and have taken the necessary steps to provide paid leave to employees who need to take an off. These states are-

  • California
  • Connecticut (starting 1/1/22)
  • Massachusetts (starting 1/1/21)
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon (starting 1/1/23)
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • The District of Columbia

Each state frames its own rules about the category of employees who will qualify for paid leave and situations under which an employee will qualify for paid leave.

How Can Disability Insurance Help?

Apart from the PFL in California, a short-term disability insurance plan may also cover pregnancy. Such a plan provides replacement income in case you become unable to work due to illness and injuries, whether they occur on the job or outside of your workplace. Disability insurance for pregnancy is generally included in such a plan.

An individual would qualify for maternity benefits under short-term disability plans, if there is an inability to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery, with a physician’s certificate. When you have short-term disability through an employer, you can receive 50-70% of your income for six to eight weeks after giving birth to a child. A pregnancy with complications can also be covered for a longer period because the complications may be interpreted as an illness themselves.

So, it is important for you to find out what your plan covers. You must also contact the human resources (HR) department at your workplace and gather more information about your plan.

How To Apply for Short-Term Disability for Pregnancy

The process starts by contacting the HR department at your workplace and understanding the full range of options that you have.

You must find out whether there is a state mandate for family leave time or if FMLA is applicable. Benefits may also be dependent on whether it is your first birth or second birth. You should also inquire about any policies or restrictions in the plan for using vacation or sick time along with the unpaid time. Some companies require their employees to exhaust their vacations or sick time before availing unpaid leaves.

Finally, you must find out who pays the premium when you take an off. This will help you plan your future expenses and overall budget.

Some Additional Tips

Now that we have told you how to ensure that your short-term disability during pregnancy gets approved, here are some tips and suggestions that will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises and ensure smooth transition when you take an off-

  • It is a good idea to learn about all the details well in advance, at your planning stage itself. This will help you remain aware of the state of your finances when you need to go on leave.
  • An early conversation with your immediate bosses, reporting manager and colleagues can be helpful in ensuring that your duties are covered and taken care of. This will put both you and your company at ease as far as the transition process is concerned.

The idea is to plan your short-term disability during pregnancy before pregnancy and not after delivery.

Finally, remember that it is always a good idea to apply at the earliest possible stage to ensure that your family life does not disrupt your professional career.


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