Short-Term Disability Insurance and Maternity Leave


Planning for your baby’s arrival includes a multitude of details. You have to choose a hospital, establish a birthing plan, set up a nursery and prep for the baby’s homecoming. It’s a lot to process, logistically, physically and emotionally, and one of the most vital plans includes how you plan for your time off from work. Short-term disability and maternity leave offer different benefits. Here is how they differ.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave according to the Family and Medical Leave Act provides a maximum of 12 weeks off from work to let you care for your newborn or adopted child. However, the time protected under the FMLA does not include pay.

“The greatest downside to using FMLA leave: It’s unpaid. So, although the FMLA provides for a very limited group of people to spend time with a new baby, you’ll likely also spend that time sweating the lack of income, if this is your only option,” according to NerdWallet writer Elizabeth Renter.

You are eligible for FMLA leave if you work for a company that boasts a workforce of a minimum of 50 employees. You also have to live within 75 miles of your company. If you work for the local, state or federal government, you can apply for FMLA leave, too. You must have logged a minimum of 1,250 hours in the previous year as well as worked there at least 12 months. To qualify for FMLA benefits, you will have to file your petition at least 30 days before your leave.

Short-term Disability

Short-term disability lets you take time off from work while offering you a percentage of your income. Since benefits and plans vary greatly, you will need to discuss your options and eligibility with your human resources representative or supervisor.

“Usually, your benefit will be a percentage of your pre-disability earnings, up to a maximum per week. How much is determined by your specific plan,” according to Prudential writer John Renz.

If you endure complications after you deliver your baby or struggled through a high-risk pregnancy, your short-term disability benefits might be extended, adds Renter. The typical timeframe, though, starts at delivery date and lasts through the first six weeks of your baby’s life.

You will not receive short-term disability pay until the elimination period, determined by your employer, ends. Your policy will dictate a weekly or bi-weekly payout, Renz writes.

If your baby decides to throw a wrench in your plans with an earlier or later arrival, don’t stress about your benefits. Adjustments can be made to reflect your needs.

“Notify your employer benefits department and insurance carrier as soon as you become aware of any date changes. Each will likely need to additional documentation to make a determination if you are covered,” according to Renz.

If you need more time to recover, ask your benefits representative and/or insurance company if it’s possible to extend your benefits beyond the period of time that was originally approved, advises Renz.

Welcoming a new baby or adopting a child is a life-altering event. Find out before your baby arrives what benefits you’re entitled to and how you’ll handle time off if you can’t receive pay during your leave. The sooner you know your options, the better prepared you’ll be for your new bundle of joy.

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