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Short-term disability options for my broken back?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I was injured in a car accident while travelling home from work. The doctor told me I will be out of work for at least 6 weeks. I am wondering what options I have for short-term disability. Does the federal government provide any type of short-term disability benefits?”

Qualifying for Short-term disability benefits

While workers are much more likely to be injured and need disability insurance than they are to die and need life insurance, workers routinely fail to consider what they might do if they become temporarily injured or disabled and cannot work.

Ideally, workers should consider what would happen if they suffer from a severe injury and alleviate their concerns by saving six months of their wages in an emergency account. Failing this, however, workers do have several options.

  1. Review whether your state provides short-term disability benefits.

Employers in California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are required to collect money through payroll deductions to subsidize short-term disability benefits provided through the state. Each state has specific requirements for workers to qualify including the amount of time which must be worked and the amount of taxes which must be paid.

  1. Review whether your employer provides short-term disability benefits.

Employers may provide short-term disability benefits as part of a general overall compensation package. Benefits provided and requirements to qualify can vary. In some cases, employers may require employees to pay for these benefits. Check with your employer if you believe they may provide short-term disability benefits.

  1. Determine whether you have purchased your own disability policy from an independent insurance broker.

Some individuals have the foresight to go ahead and purchase short-term disability benefit insurance in much the same way they might have purchased life insurance. If you had this benefit, however, it’s unlikely you would have been asking this question.

  1. Review other sources of income you can utilize while you are out of work.

Review your savings and your budget and determine if you have sufficient income and funds to subsidize your income while you are unemployed. If you have no available insurance and no emergency funds, you might have to talk to your friends and family about getting a loan, think about selling some of your assets, or talk to a bank about taking out a personal loan.

  1. Review whether you might qualify for workers’ compensation.

Workers who are injured at work while performing their normal job duties may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits can include temporary wage replacement, permanent wage replacement, medical benefits, and death benefits.

Unfortunately, given the information you provided, it’s unlikely that you will qualify for workers’ compensation unless your injuries occurred while traveling to a second job site or while on special assignment for your employer.

Why can’t I get SSDI or SSI benefits from the federal government? 

Unfortunately, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are only provided to workers who have a severe health condition which will not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. These benefits are not provided for any type of short-term disability, regardless of the severity of the injury.

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