Iowa Short Term Disability Laws

••• USA states series: Iowa. Political map with counties image by Stasys Eidiejus from

"Short-term disability" is a type of worker's compensation insurance that protects an employee's pay in the event of short-term injury. Iowa's Code refers to short-term disability as "temporary disability" and distinguishes between "total" and "partial" disability for the purposes of insurance benefits. Additionally, the law defines blanket guidelines for payment of benefits.

Partial Disability

As defined by the Iowa Code, "temporary partial disability" applies to any employee who "is not capable of returning to employment substantially similar to the employment in which the employee was engaged at the time of injury, but is able to perform other work consistent with the employee's disability." If you're partially disabled, the law requires that your employer offer you work that you can do in spite of your physical condition, with "partial" worker's compensation benefits to supplement your income to normal level.

Accepting this temporary work, however, is not option. The law goes on to note that those who fail to comply with employer requests won't receive any compensation. On the other hand, you are permitted to seek temporary work with other employers if your employer doesn't offer you any, in which case you will also receive "partial" benefits.

Total Disability

"Temporary total disability," goes into effect for people who have been completely incapacitated by their injuries but are expected to make a full recovery and eventually be able to return to normal work. According to Section 85.33 of the Code, you will be paid temporary total disability benefits for the duration of your "healing period."

If your condition improves enough, your employer may request that you perform work under the specifications listed for "temporary partial disability," at which point all the aforementioned terms and conditions will apply.


No matter your temporary disability situation, the same payment procedures apply. While the law dictates that "compensation shall begin on the fourth day of disability after the injury," it goes on to state that the "compensation due during the third week shall be increased by adding thereto an amount equal to three days of compensation."

In other words, if you're disabled for two working weeks or less, you will not be compensated for the first three days of your disability. If your disability extends into the third week, you will then be paid for the first three days.



About the Author

Robert Schrader is a writer, photographer, world traveler and creator of the award-winning blog Leave Your Daily Hell. When he's not out globetrotting, you can find him in beautiful Austin, TX, where he lives with his partner.

Photo Credits

  • USA states series: Iowa. Political map with counties image by Stasys Eidiejus from