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Ways to Get Short-Term Disability Benefits

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

If you are suddenly dealing with an injury or illness that is keeping you away from work for a while — how are you going to survive?

Short-Term Disability Insurance (STDI), and all the supplemental security income that this insurance provides, is the answer for most people until they can return to work.

The Need

Disability insurance is a protection against loss of income should you be injured or become ill and unable to work. The need for this coverage is more common than you may think. According to the Council on Disability Awareness, 1 in 4 workers who are now 20 years of age will experience a period of disability before they retire.

For many individuals, the first time they learn about Short-Term Disability Insurance is when they are starting a new job and review employee benefits. Many don’t fully understand its purpose and limitations until the need presents itself.

The Challenge

If you are injured and disabled, even for a short period of time, getting the compensation you need and deserve can be a challenge. The bureaucracy you are facing is real, and communication with employers, insurance companies, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be confusing.

You probably have a lot of questions. What’s the difference between short-term disability vs. social security disability benefit? When should I file a claim? What are the limits to my short-term disability benefits?

Having an independent disability lawyer and advocate at your side can make a big difference. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we can help you file and fight for all the benefits to which you are entitled, and avoid mistakes that can sometimes lead to denial of coverage.

Different Types of Coverage

Social Security Administration

The disability benefits that are available from the Social Security Administration (SSA) are for people who are disabled for 12 months or longer. State-funded short-term disability benefits are available in a few states, but Michigan is not one of them.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are programs funded by the federal government and managed by the Social Security Administration. SSDI is funded through FICA Social Security payroll taxes and is available to qualifying individuals after one year of disability and missed work.

SSI is for low-income individuals who are disabled and unable to work due to a medical condition or who become blind. It provides money for shelter, clothing, and food. SSI is funded through general tax revenues.

There are several other special disability benefits programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and each defines disability and eligibility differently. SSDI and SSI insurance programs are also completely different from commercial short-term disability insurance.

Short-term disability insurance can begin to pay benefits immediately, and pays a percentage of your salary for a specified amount of time. Generally, the benefit pays about 40-60% percent of your weekly gross income. If you want to pay more in monthly premiums, you can purchase private short-term disability insurance that will pay 100% of your income.

Both employer-provided and privately-purchased short-term disability insurance covers you in two possible situations:

  • Your injury or illness will cause you to miss work for a few weeks or months, and you plan to return to active employment in under 12 months.
  • You have a more serious injury or illness, and short-term disability is the first step in a transition from active employment to long-term or permanent disability.

Check With Your Employer

You may already have some kind of short-term disability coverage. In Michigan, all employers with one or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Employees of a sole proprietorship are covered by the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act, but there are several exceptions.

Workers’ compensation insurance covers only job-related injuries or illnesses and is different than short-term disability insurance in several ways. The key difference is that short-term disability insurance covers injuries that occur off the job, too.

Check with your employer and find out what kind of coverage is provided to employees. Sometimes a short-term disability policy is available as an employee-paid benefit, which means a little out of your check each pay period.

When filing for workers’ compensation or short-term disability, your Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., disability lawyer can ensure that your benefits application paperwork is filed correctly and promptly. We will assist you and be your advocate at any disability hearings, and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Short-Term Disability vs. SSA Disability

If your disability is not expected to improve over a year’s time or is permanent, then applying for SSA Disability benefits while you are receiving workers’ compensation and/or short-term disability benefits makes sense. It gives you a head start on approval, a process that can take several months.

If you expect to return to work before a year has passed, or if your medical condition is uncertain, hold off on filing anything with the SSA. If you return to work, you won’t be approved. If your medical condition is uncertain, the SSA may put your claim on hold — which is a type of bureaucratic purgatory, and can complicate claims.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Filing for workers’ compensation or short-term disability means that you are not looking for damages beyond the medical and related expenses associated with your injury or illness. You want to stay afloat financially until you can return to work.

If you believe that your injury or illness was caused by the negligence of another, you can consider making a personal injury claim. Unlike workers’ compensation or short-term disability insurance benefits, personal injury damages are compensatory and can include the loss, suffering, or other harm you experienced as a result of the injury or illness.

Get the Help You Need

The attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., can help you navigate the insurance bureaucracy, and get the settlement and coverage you need to recover and heal in the best way possible. You are entitled to representation when doing business with the SSA and it also helps in your communications with insurance providers.

In both cases, you are responsible for providing accurate information. We’ll be there for any interviews, hearings, or conferences, assist you in obtaining medical records, assemble witnesses, and obtain other materials to support a claim.

If you or someone close to you are facing short- or long-term disability, and need assistance with filing your claim in Michigan, contact us toll-free at 1-866-MICH-LAW or use our convenient online contact form. Your initial consultation is free and our law firm never charges a fee unless we win your case.


Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Mark is a freelance writer living near Concord, New Hampshire. He works with a range of businesses and professional associations in their strategic messaging and content development projects. He also provides content development services to nonprofits and government agencies, helping them distill complex topics and make information more accessible across multiple platforms. When he's not writing, he enjoys working outside and finds mowing his fields on a warm sunny day to be a peak experience.



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