Now that United States is essentially in lockdown mode because of the coronavirus, many employees have started emailing and calling me to ask does short term disability insurance cover the coronavirus?
These employees have realized that the virus has not only threatened everyone’s health but also everyone’s job as well. Even if their job isn’t threatened, with schools closed, parents may also need to take time off from work to care for their children who can’t be left home alone and wonder if short term disability will pay them in this situation.
So, I wrote this article to help you make sense of when short term disability might pay for the coronavirus and when it definitely won’t.
When will short term disability insurance pay if you have the coronavirus?
If you are diagnosed with the coronavirus then you may qualify for short term disability benefits if:
- You are actually diagnosed with the coronavirus,
- You can’t work because of it,
- You are under a doctor’s care,
- Have satisfied the elimination period of the policy. The elimination period is the number of days your disability has to last before you are eligible to file a disability claim.
Let’s walk through what’s required for short term disability to pay if you have the coronavirus.
Have you been diagnosed with the coronavirus?
Short term disability insurance covers disabilities due to injury, sickness and pregnancy. Since coronavirus is a sickness, if you are diagnosed with it, then you are technically sick. How sick you really will be though will depend. You may end up hospitalized or just sent home to outlast it.
Get tested if you have symptoms for an official diagnosis.
Are you unable to work because of the virus?
Obviously, if you are hospitalized, it’s pretty clear you won’t be able to work. But you may still be sick and the doctor might just send you home to recover. In that case, you aren’t able to return to work because the doctor won’t allow it.
Are you under a doctor’s care?
Another requirement to qualify for a short term disability is that you must be under a doctor’s care. When you file a disability claim, the insurance company will need the doctor to attest that they won’t release you to go back to work because you are sick.
Just going to the doctor for a visit isn’t being under a doctor’s care. You don’t necessarily have to be in the hospital either. What matters is that the insurance company will verify with your doctor that you can’t work because of your sickness before they will consider approving your claim.
Have you satisfied the elimination period?
The elimination period is the number of days you have to wait before you can file a short term disability claim. The most common elimination periods are 7 days and 14 days. This means that you would have to be sick, unable to work because of it and under the care of a doctor for more than that number of days.
It’s possible you may recover in a couple of weeks. If you have a 14 day elimination period, you may not get to the point where you would be eligible to file a claim.
Have you used all your paid time off?
During your elimination period, you can use your paid time off. Depending on your short term disability plan, you may be required to use up all of your paid time off before you can file a short term disability claim.
You may not use up all of your paid time off before your short term disability would kick in.
What if I have been quarantined but haven’t been diagnosed with the coronavirus?
Many people are being quarantined as a precaution because they were exposed to the coronavirus. However, they have not been diagnosed with it and may not end up being diagnosed. In that case, I think it might be doubtful the insurance company would pay for a short term disability for a quarantine when you have not actually been diagnosed with anything.
To be sure, I’d still file a claim but realize there’s a good chance it will be denied.
Legally mandated coronavirus paid sick leave
The House of Representatives has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that does provide some provisions for fully paid leave. But honestly, I wouldn’t put much faith in qualifying. First as of this writing, it hasn’t passed the Senate and become law. Many times these bills are just public relation stunts where no one really qualifies.
For proof of that, just check the numbers of people who have been denied for student loan forgiveness.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Will short term disability pay if I have to take time off from work because I have to take time off or because a state of emergency was declared?
You might have to take time off work because a state of emergency was declared or you are afraid that you will be sent home from work during this crisis. Schools, bars, restaurants and even the NBA was suspended and all of those people are out of work.
But, you won’t qualify for short term disability in those cases because you aren’t even sick, you are just out of work.
Check with you insurance company because every insurance company is different
Remember this is a general guide to whether or not short term disability will pay because you have the coronavirus. I do not handle claims for any insurance company.
Every insurance company has their own set of rules. Every short term policy is different.
You could also be subject to a pre-existing condition clause if you were diagnosed before you enrolled in your short term disability plan.
When in doubt though, always file a claim to make the insurance company officially decide. The worst that can happen is your claim will be denied.
I hope that helps you better understand how your short term disability plan might help you if you get diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Let me know in the comments if you have you been diagnosed with the coronavirus and filed a short term disability claim or if you have other questions about short term disability.