Short-term disability benefits are not available from Social Security or elsewhere in the federal government. If you are disabled less than a year, you can’t collect Social Security disability or SDI.
A few states do have programs granting employees paid short-term disability benefits when they temporarily can’t work. The states differ on the size of the benefit (it’s a portion of your salary, typically two-thirds) and how long you’ll receive benefits (a maximum of six to twelve months). Generally, it’s easier to qualify medically for state disability than it is for Social Security disability.
Here are the states that offer paid short-term disability benefits.
California has a short-term disability insurance (SDI) program that provides up to a year of benefits. Employees are only eligible if they earned $300 in the previous year (on which SDI taxes were paid). Benefits are 55% of the employees normal wages during the year before they apply for SDI benefits. Employees may be able to be paid longer than one year if they are able to return to work part-time and receive partial benefits (this stretches out the money available to you).
New York requires most employers to offer short-term disability benefits through its disability benefits (DB) law. Employers may purchase private insurance or self-insure. Employees can receive 50% of their average weekly wages, up to a cap. Benefits are paid for a maximum of 26 weeks. Employees must have worked for at least four weeks for their employer to be eligible.
New Jersey provides up to 26 weeks of paid benefits through its temporary disability (TDI) program. There are several ways employees can be qualified to receive benefits, which are two-thirds of their average weekly salary, up to a maximum.
Rhode Island has a temporary disability insurance (TDI) program that provides up to 30 weeks of paid short-term disability benefits to qualified employees. The benefit amount is set according to a complex calculation, and only certain employees qualify.
Employees in Hawaii are entitled to 26 weeks of temporary disability insurance (TDI) benefits, but they must have worked at least 20 hours per week for their employer, over at least 14 weeks, and been paid at least $400 per week. Benefits are typically 58% of an employee's wages.
Most disputes over short-term disability benefits can be handled by talking to your state’s employment or labor department, but if you are denied paid disability leave benefits and can’t get help from the state or your employer, talk to a disability lawyer.