Preparing Your Short-Term Disability Claim

If you are entitled to compensation while you are out of work with a short-term or temporary disability, make sure you follow all the necessary steps to get paid.

By , J.D.

If you are unable to work because of a temporary or short-term disability, you may be entitled to benefits. There are a few different programs that may be available to you. If you've suffered an on-the-job illness or injury, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. You should report the injury or illness to your company right away, and request any necessary paperwork to file for benefits.

For temporary illnesses or injuries that are not work-related, you may be entitled to temporary disability insurance (TDI) benefits. A handful of states -- California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island -- have laws that provide for these benefits. The benefits may be available through a state fund or your employer may be required to provide them. Typically, these benefits provide some wage replacement for a limited number of weeks.

If you don't work in one of these states, your employer might offer short-term disability insurance as a job benefit. In this situation, the duration and amount of benefits, qualifying conditions, and other details will be determined by your employer's policy.

Whether your state or your employer provides short-term disability benefits, you'll want to follow every necessary step to make sure you can collect. We've listed the typical steps you'll need to follow below; to find out whether there are additional or different requirements in your situation, talk to your company's HR or personnel department.

Step 1 – Get the Claim Form

Ask your HR department for a copy of the form you need to file to claim short-term disability benefits. Forms may also be available online, from the state department that handles this program (in the states listed above) or from the insurance company.

Step 2 – Complete the Form

Provide all the necessary details in the prescribed format. You may have to provide the date when you stopped working, personal information, and contact details, along with the nature of your injury or medical condition.

Step 3 – Ask the Employer to Complete Its Section of the Form

Every state that provides temporary disability benefits asks employers to provide information about your job duties, salary, tenure at the company, and so on. If you are covered by your employer's policy, the employer will also have to provide this type of information.

Step 4 – Physician Validation

Your doctor will have to verify your condition and sign the form.

Step 5 – Submit the Form

Once the form is completed, submit it according to the instructions. Keep a copy of the completed form for your records. Be sure to find out when you can expect to hear back and when you can expect your first check, if your claim is approved.

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