Ways to Get Short-Term Disability Benefits

Only a few states provide temporary disability benefits, though workers' comp and private employer-funded disability insurance do as well.

Updated January 15, 2019

Your eligibility and the availability of short-term (temporary) disability will depend on where you live; only a few states offer a state short-term disability program. Other programs that offer short-term or temporary disability benefits are workers' compensation, if the injury is work-related, and private disability insurance, which is usually purchased and paid for by employers. Social Security does not provide for short-term disability, through either its SSI or SSDI programs.

States With Short-Term Disability Programs

California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island are the only states that have state short-term disability programs. A few states offer temporary disability assistance to low-income people in other ways. For instance, Maryland's Temporary Disability Assistance Program offers cash and medical and housing assistance. California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island also have paid leave programs, and D.C. has authorized a paid family leave program to start in July 2020.

This article is about the state temporary disability programs (abbreviated as TDI, for temporary disability insurance, or SDI, for state disability insurance) funded by payroll deductions.

Eligibility Requirements

State temporary disability is usually easier to get than Social Security disability. In the states that provide for short-term disability, here are some general requirements that apply to all of the states.

  • The worker must have worked a certain length of time before being eligible for benefits, 30 days to six months, depending on the state.

  • Some states have a minimum earnings requirement.
  • There is a one-week waiting period before benefits are payable. (You can't receive benefits until the 8th day you are temporarily disabled).
  • The illness or injury must be non-work related.
  • Benefits last no more than 26-30 weeks (but 52 weeks in California).
  • The weekly benefit is approximately 60% of your wages.
  • Pregnant women can receive short-term disability for several weeks for delivery and recovery.
  • You will need to submit medical records or go to a medical exam to prove your disability.

For information on your state's specific eligibility rules, see our article on eligibility for state temporary disability benefits.

    Filing a TDI/SDI Claim

    To file a claim, call or go to the website of your state's department of labor or employment development department to get the application form. Your company's human resources department may also be able to provide you with one. Complete your section of the form and give the form to your employer and/or doctor to complete the remainder.

    Making Sure Your Job Will Be There When You Return

    State short-term disability programs offer wage replacement but they offer little to no job protection. You must look to the Family and Medical Leave Act, a state medical leave law, or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure your employer must take you back after a period of disability. Read our article on keeping your job after disability leave for more information.

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