Short-term disability insurance and your maternity leave

Short-term disability insurance replaces part of your income if you are unable to work due to a covered disability. Did you know that maternity leave is one of the most common causes of a short-term disability? After a normal delivery, disability benefits are typically paid for up to six weeks. However, each situation is unique, so it is important to understand how benefits are paid.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions to help you understand how short-term disability can help while you are on maternity leave.

When do my benefits begin?

Your disability typically begins on the day you deliver. You may have to wait for a short period of time (called an elimination period) before you begin receiving your short-term disability benefit checks. Ask your employer or refer to your short-term disability plan to determine the length of your elimination period.

Will I receive short-term disability benefits if I stop working before my due date?

It depends on your plan. Typically, if your doctor provides certification, you may be considered totally disabled up to one week prior to your expected or actual date of delivery. If you have medical complications that prevent you from doing your job, your doctor should submit medical records and your plan may provide benefits prior to that date.

What if I have to be away from work for more than six weeks?

Benefits will usually extend beyond six weeks from the date of delivery only if there are medical complications. Your doctor will likely have to provide certification that the disability will last more than the initial six weeks. Benefits may also be extended for two additional weeks if you have a Cesarean section. 

Will I receive benefits for each week of my maternity leave?

The payments you receive may vary. For example, if you deliver on January 15 and have a seven-day elimination period (the period of time between your disability start date and your first payment date), your benefits would begin on January 22 and would end six weeks after the date you delivered, on February 25. In this scenario, you would receive only five weeks of disability benefits.

Isn’t everyone eligible for twelve weeks of leave?

Certain employees eligible under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can take up to twelve weeks of leave for certain family or medical emergencies. The law also provides that, in most cases, you will have a job with your employer when you return from leave. In addition to the federal FMLA, some states have laws addressing leave for certain qualifying conditions. State leave laws differ, so you should refer to specific requirements in your state where applicable.

For more information about short-term disability insurance and maternity leave, consult your benefits administrator or review your short-term disability insurance plan.

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SLPC 24891 03/15 (exp. 03/17)

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