What Is Short Term Disability?
Disability insurance is a proactive step that many employees choose—or may have provided by their employers—to protect their incomes in the event of debilitating injuries or illnesses.
If an injury or illness impairs an employee’s ability to work for any length of time, disability insurance should kick in to provide a portion of the claimant’s normal monthly income.
Short-term disability (STD) insurance is distinct from long-term disability (LTD) insurance, largely with respect to the maximum period for which benefits are payable. As their names imply, STD benefits extend for shorter maximum time periods (and possibly lower maximum monthly benefit payments) and LTD benefits will extend for longer periods (and possibly larger maximum monthly benefits).
The period for which STD benefits are payable will depend on the individual disability plans themselves, but the maximum time periods are usually 12 months. Some insurers, however, may provide maximum STD benefit periods that extend to 24 months under certain circumstances.
Significant Terms to Remember
Precise definitions and terms will vary by insurer. General concepts, terms, and definitions, however, are common among insurance companies (despite slight variations in language), including:
- Benefit period: The length of time for which a policy will pay STD income benefits.
- Elimination period: The policy waiting period is usually the number of days from the onset of disability for which no disability benefits are payable.
- Exclusions: A policy provision or limitation that indicates what a disability income policy will not cover—such as a disability as a result of war or an act of war, declared or not.
- Outline of coverage: A simplified benefit summary of a disability policy provided by the insurance company and that many states require insurance companies by law to deliver to the individual insured either at the time of the sales presentation or policy delivery.
- Partial disability: A short-term version of residual disability benefits, this policy provision or limitation, which also could be available as a rider, pays a specified percentage of the total disability benefit (usually 50 percent) if the insured is unable to perform one or more duties of his or her own occupation.
- Pre-existing condition: This policy provision or limitation defines certain illnesses or injuries that occurred or manifested themselves before the policy’s effective date, and for which disability benefits are usually not payable.
- Social Security offset: This coordinates disability benefits with any benefits eligible to receive or be received through Social Security disability (and, often, other public-assistance programs) to avoid either “underinsurance” or “over-insurance.”
- Total disability: Often the key policy provision or limitation in the disability income policy, this feature defines the eligibility requirements necessary for an individual to qualify for full monthly disability benefits. Usually, an inability to perform the duties of an insured’s occupation is the major requirement in the definition.
* If you are already an STD policyholder, look online or in your policy booklet to see how your insurance company defines these and other terms.
If you have any questions about coverage or terminology, please contact the compassionate, seasoned attorneys at DarrasLaw. We offer free policy analysis as well as free disability claim consultations.
The Basics of Filing a Short-Term Disability Claim
Disability claim forms typically ask for basic information, as well as for specific details regarding your injury or illness.
Once you complete the disability claim form, make sure you sign and date it in the designated areas. Your failure to do so could slow down your disability claim’s decision process.
At this point, you can sit back and wait to hear from your insurance company. Since you are filing for short-term disability, your disability claim is typically processed in a faster and more efficient manner than claims for long-term disabilities.
If you feel that the process is taking too long, you have the right to contact your carrier for information on where things stand. In most cases, insurers are even required to respond within certain amounts of time.
If your disability claim is denied, you will face even more paperwork. In addition to a formal notice of denial, in which your insurer informs you of why it denied the claim, the insurer may collect more information from you for a possible reconsideration (internal appeal).
The seasoned, top-rated disability insurance attorneys at DarrasLaw can help you file your initial disability claim forms and assist you with your appeal if your insurance company wrongly denies your disability benefits.
Wrongful Denials Are Not Necessarily Final. You May Have More Options
The expert, experienced disability insurance lawyers at DarrasLaw may help you if your claim was wrongfully denied for any of the following reasons:
- A false assertion that your disabling condition was pre-existing and does not qualify for disability benefits under your policy
- An insurer’s failure to follow the terms of its own policy language
- Endless demands for additional, duplicate documentation
- A refusal to supplement Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as required when the disability benefits promised by the policy exceed those received from SSDI
- An insurer-hired doctor without the proper training or specialization reviews your file and determines that you are not disabled, or talks to your treating doctor and determines that you are ready to return to work before you actually can
- A private investigator surveilled you and collected evidence that your insurer claims negates the disability you’ve claimed.
Documentation Is Important. Keep Your Papers.
If your disability claim is wrongly denied, fight back. The seasoned, top-rated disability insurance lawyers and ERISA attorneys at DarrasLaw can help.
Keep (or retrieve) copies of all correspondence between you and your insurer—whenever possible. Such documents can include, but are not limited to:
- Any documents providing additional information that your insurance company requested or that you voluntarily sent to the insurance company (like medical documents provided by your treating doctor that support your disability claim).
- A copy of your request for reconsideration (the internal appeal), if applicable.
- If someone else filed an appeal for you, a copy of any form or letter you signed permitting that person to so do.
- Notes and dates from as many phone and email conversations as you had with your insurer—or any other relevant professional—relating to your unreasonable delay, wrongful denial, or appeal. Always try to include things like the day, time, name, and title of the person you talked to, as well as any important information shared or discussed in the conversation.
Find what you can, make note of the documents you remember submitting but can’t locate, and save everything moving forward.
If You Feel That Your Disability Claim Was Wrongly Denied, Please Contact the Nation’s Top-Rated Disability Insurance Lawyers and ERISA attorneys at DarrasLaw Today!
At DarrasLaw, our nationwide disability insurance law firm has seen, evaluated, and resolved more individual and long-term disability cases than any other firm in America. We also evaluate cases throughout the United States.
Frank N. Darras and his firms have recovered nearly $1 billion on behalf of disabled individuals who were probably just like you—unsure of where to turn. Turn to DarrasLaw.
Insurance companies often act in bad faith. The top-rated, bad-faith lawyers at DarrasLaw have seen all of the red flags that indicate unreasonable disability claims delays or wrongful denials, including:
- Requests for independent medical examinations with improperly credentialed physicians
- Massive, duplicative requests for documentation
- Denials which that are not accompanied by any real explanation or proof
- Failing to make a claim decision within a reasonable amount of time
- Failing to relate relevant information to the claimant (or person filing the claim form)
We know how to fight through all of those bad-faith practices—and win. Call DarrasLaw today at (800) 458-4577 or contact us online for a free policy analysis or claim consultation.