Tennessee State Laws on Short Term Disability

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A worker who is temporarily injured at work may need financial assistance if they cannot work or their work hours have been reduced due to their injuries. When a worker needs more time than they have in sick leave, but less time than what would be needed for a long term disability, they’ll need short-term disability insurance.

While the state does not require it for most workers, an employer may offer short-term disability benefits. Unlike employees in private companies, state employees and higher education employees are guaranteed short-term disability.

Short-term Disability Coverage in the State of Tennessee

Tennessee companies may offer short-term disability insurance to workers who have suffered an injury while at work. It covers the time they miss working and is paid through the business’ insurance company or through employees' own self-employment insurance.

A worker may receive short-term disability if the authorized physician treating the injury removes the worker from their job or reduces their work hours. The employer may also reduce the worker’s wages as a result of the injury.

Types of Disability Insurance in Tennessee

In Tennesee, there are two types of disability insurance. After a workplace injury, a worker may receive:

  • Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits.‌ TPD benefits typically occur when the authorized physician treating the injury places the worker on “light duty” or restricts them to working fewer hours.
  • Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits.‌ TPD benefits are 66.33 percent of the difference between the worker’s gross light duty earnings and what they would average each week if they had not been injured. For these benefits, the company sends a Wage Statement (Form C-41) to the insurance company.

Eligibility for Employee Benefit Payments

The worker will receive TTD benefits if the authorized treating physician takes them off work altogether due to their injuries and if the benefit amount falls within the range established by state law. TTD benefits begin on day eight of the worker’s disability, but if the disability lasts 14 days, they will be paid back to the date they first suffered the disability.

For these benefits, the company also sends a Wage Statement (Form C-41) the Tennessee Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

When Do Short-term Disability Benefits End?

A worker’s short-term or temporary disability insurance benefits end if one of these circumstances occurs:

  • Treatment Ends.‌ Authorized treating physician releases the injured employee from treatment, allowing them to go back to their job with no restrictions.
  • Refusing a Medical Exam.‌ If the injured worker refuses to agree with a request for a medical exam or accept treatment. In this instance, disability payments may cease during the period of time they continue to refuse.
  • Error.‌ If the business or insurance carrier pays benefits in error. In this event, payments may be discontinued.
  • Maximum Medical Improvement.‌ When the treating physician states that the worker has met a treatment plateau, or maximum medical improvement (MMI), and compensability has not been contested.

Short-term disability claim payments continue until the injured worker either rejects or accepts a job from the employer with earnings equal to their pre-injury wage, or the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Department mediates between the injured worker and the employer or insurance adjuster and files a report.

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