Hawaii is one of the few states that provide temporary disability insurance for employees. Hawaii’s temporary disability insurance or TDI (also called short-term disability insurance, or SDI) law requires employers to pay employees who are temporarily unable to work part of their wages while they are out. Employees can take leave for pregnancy or any other illness or injury that is not work-related. (Workplace injuries and illnesses are handled through the state's workers' compensation program.)
To be eligible for TDI coverage, an employee must have worked at least 14 weeks in the past year for an employer in Hawaii. The weeks need not be consecutive, and the employee need not have worked all 14 weeks with the same employer. During each of these weeks, the employee must have worked at least 20 hours and must have been paid at least $400.
The employee must also be "in current employment" at the time leave becomes necessary. This means the employee was working just before or no more than two weeks prior to needing leave, and would have continued working if not for the disability (including pregnancy) that made leave necessary.
The employee must be prevented from performing his or her regular duties by an off-the-job injury or illness, including pregnancy. The disability must be certified by -- and the employee must be under the care of -- a health care provider.
Certain types of employees can't get TDI, including federal government employees, some domestic employees, and insurance and real estate agents paid solely on commission.
In Hawaii, the TDI program is paid by employers; some states pay employees benefits from a state fund, often stocked with employer and/or employee contributions, but Hawaii doesn't follow this model. Instead, Hawaii employers must either purchase insurance that pays TDI benefits or self-insure by offering a paid leave program, either on their own initiative or as required by a collective bargaining agreement.
The amount you will receive is determined by the employer's plan. If the state's Disability Compensation Division has approved the employer's plan as an equivalent or better-than-statutory plan, the amount of pay you receive will be determined by the plan's terms. Ask your employer what benefits are available.
If your employer has a "statutory" plan (one that provides the minimum benefits under the law), you will receive 58% of your regular weekly wages, up to a maximum amount that changes annually. (For 2011, this amount is $513.)
The same scheme determines how much time you may take off: The employer's plan dictates, as long as it has been deemed equivalent or better-than-statutory. Otherwise, you are entitled to up to 26 weeks per benefit year.
Speak to your employer about filing a TDI claim. Employers who are self-insured or provide TDI benefits through a collective bargaining agreement are generally entitled to use their own forms and procedures for TDI claims. If you work for such an employer, you'll need to get the necessary forms and information from your company's human resources or personnel department.
If your employer provides only the benefits required by the statute, follow these steps to file a claim:
Your employer or its carrier will inform you of your eligibility for benefits and how much you will receive.
If your employer has violated your rights or refused to provide you with the leave required by Hawaii law, you may want to consult with a disability lawyer.