Short-term disability coverage protects an employee’s income by paying some of their wages in the event they become disabled due to injury, pregnancy or mental illness and cannot work. Short-term disability benefits are not covered by Texas law for workers at private companies, but state workers can get benefits through the Employees Retirement System of Texas.
A private company may offer employees short-term disability insurance, but if it doesn’t, a worker may be able to get some benefits through the Social Security Administration or the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, (SSDI) a claimant must:
- Work in a job that Social Security Disability Insurance covers.
- Not be able to work or gain substantial employment due to their medical condition.
- Not be able to do what they could do previously and must adjust to other work due to their medical condition.
- Have a medical condition that has lasted, or will last, for a least a year, or that will result in death.
SSDI pays monthly benefits to individuals unable to work for at least a year due to a disability. There is typically a five-month waiting period before benefits begin. Claimants can get Social Security disability benefits for up to 12 months.
If a person receives SSDI, and they are at full retirement age, their disability benefits automatically become retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same.
Eligibility Requirements for the Family Medical Leave Act
Short-term disability requirements are generally different from FMLA qualifications. A person who meets certain requirements may be entitled to up to 12-weeks of unpaid leave under the FMLA if they:
- Have a serious health condition that makes them unable to perform their job duties.
- Have experienced childbirth and wish to bond with their newborn within a year of birth.
- Have a child through adoption or foster care and wish to bond with the child within a year of the child's placement.
- Must care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition.
- Have a qualifying urgent need or demand as a result of their spouse, child or parent being a military member on active duty.
- Must care for a service member with a serious illness or injury, and are the spouse, parent, child or next of kin of that military member.
Additionally, the employee must:
- Have worked for their company for at least a year.
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year.
- Work at a business location that employs 50 or more people.
Texas Income Protection Plan for State Employees
While the state does not require private companies to offer short-term disability, the Texas Income Protection Plan (TIPP) under the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) offers short-term disability to state workers. They may enroll in the plan:
- Without evidence of insurability during the hire or rehire event to get immediate coverage.
- In their first 31 days employment (coverage would not be immediate but begin on the first day of the following month).
- If the claimant has a qualifying life event such as a marriage, birth or death during summer enrollment (coverage will start September 1 or on first of the month after approval).
The recipient can receive disability payments of 66 percent of their monthly salary for up to five months after completing a 30-day waiting period or after the employee uses their sick leave (including donated and extended sick leave and sick leave pool), whichever is longer.
To be eligible, the employee must show a doctor’s certificate stating that they are unable to work due to a disability.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.