The minimum requirements of Indiana's short-term disability laws coincide with those of the federal government's Family Medical Leave Act and Americans With Disabilities Act. Indiana's private businesses do not have to pay benefits to employees on short-term disability. However, state employees do get some disability benefits if they qualify.
Defining the Family Medical Leave Act
State of Indiana employers who have 50 employees or more for at least 20 weeks in the current year or in the year prior must follow federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guidelines. Under FMLA rules, eligible workers can take unpaid leave, with the right to return to their job. Reasons for their work absence can include:
- Birth and care of a new child.
- Recuperation from a serious health issue.
- Caring for a relative with a serious health condition.
- Handling urgent needs or demands that arise from a family member's military service.
- Caring for a family member who suffered a serious medical condition while on active duty.
Eligibility for FMLA Leave
A worker may be eligible for FMLA leave if:
- The business has employed them for one year or more.
- During the previous year, they worked a minimum of 1,250 hours.
- They work at a business location with a minimum of 50 employees within a radius of 75 miles.
FMLA leave is unpaid, but workers may be required to first use their accrued paid leave time. When their FMLA leave ends, they are entitled to return to the same position or an equivalent one.
Amount of FMLA Leave in Indiana
Workers can take a maximum of 12 weeks' leave within a 12-month period. It is available to them every 12 months if they meet the eligibility requirements each year.
If the employee is a military caregiver, they may take a maximum of 26 weeks' leave in a 12-month period, however, it is a per-injury, per-service member dispensation. That means that unless the same relative has another serious injury or another family member is seriously hurt while on active duty, the worker may not take additional leave for this purpose.
Health Insurance Entitlements Under FMLA
The FMLA requires employers to maintain group health insurance benefits for employees who take leave. However, the business does not have to pay the whole amount unless that is its usual practice. A business that typically requires its employees to pay some portion of their health insurance can continue to request that they do so while on leave.
Indiana Military Family Leave
Businesses with a minimum of 50 employees must give eligible workers at least 10 days each year for military family reasons, including:
- During the 30 days before their family member's active duty begins
- While their relative is on leave
- During the 30 days after the military terminates the family member's active duty orders
To take time off from their job, the worker must be a parent, spouse, grandparent or sibling of the relative whom the military must order to active duty for at least 90 days.
Short-Term Disability Rules for Indiana Employees
State workers employed on a permanent, full-time basis for a six-month continuous period in Indiana are eligible for short-term disability benefits. To ensure that they remain eligible, workers must show updated medical statements as requested. This includes workers who have been deemed permanently disabled by their doctors.
The state may request updated medical records from the employee on their benefit calculation letter and can terminate benefits for failure to provide that medical information or attend an exam the state ordered and paid for.
Information Needed for Disability Claim
Indiana does not pay for an employee's medical statement preparation. A state employee must call or visit their attending physician and ask that they send a current statement to JWF Specialty, the employee benefits insurance brokerage for state workers, with this information:
- Employee's current diagnosis.
- Current disability status.
- Date they expect to return to work.
- Physician's signature and date.
- Employee's treatment dates.
- Work restrictions.
Indiana State Employee Disability Eligibility
State employee short-term disability (STD) lasts for up to six months, including the 30-day elimination period from the day the worker becomes disabled (eligibility begins on the 31st day of disability). The benefit amount is 60 percent of the employee's base bi-weekly gross wage, prior to taxes and insurance.
Employees are responsible for submitting the required paperwork within 30 days of the date of the disability and will forfeit benefits for each day beyond the 30-day deadline.
During the elimination period, the worker must be unable to perform their job for 30 successive calendar days from the first day they are medically certified as unable to perform the occupation. State employees get no disability payments during the initial 30-day waiting period.
Recurring Health Issues After Returning to Work
If a person returns to work after receiving Indiana state employee disability benefits and becomes disabled again from the same condition within 90 days of returning to work, they will not have to satisfy a new 30-day elimination period. They can immediately receive STD, as the state considers it one continuous period of disability. However, they must submit a new Attending Physician's Statement or other reliable medical certification regarding the disability.
Some workers who can return to work may still need to undergo treatment that requires additional time off. If their treatment is related to their original disability during a specific period, they may be entitled to disability benefits for that time off work.
Defining the Americans with Disabilities Act
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects disabled workers by prohibiting covered employers from discriminating against them. The ADA applies to companies with 15 or more employees, as well as to employment agencies, labor organizations and joint labor-management committees.
While the ADA does not explicitly require businesses to provide medical or disability-related leave for employees, it requires them to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers to perform their job duties or to benefit from the same opportunities and rights as workers without disabilities. These can include modifications to employee work schedules, including leave. However, there is no mandated time period, as this depends on each employee's individual situation.
- Department of Labor: Employment Laws: Medical and Disability-Related Leave
- State of Indiana: State of Indiana Short and Long Term Disability and Worker’s Compensation Programs
- NOLO: Family and Medical Leave in Indiana
- NOLO: Do I Have to Pay for My Health Insurance While I'm on FMLA Leave?
- Department of Labor: Family and Medical Leave Act
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.