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Disability insurance and pregnancy
A disability policy can protect your paycheck if you can’t work after childbirth.
Disability insurance can replace part of your income if you can’t work due to a pregnancy, and help you to prepare for taking time off when your baby arrives. But there are a few caveats to this coverage.
Can I get disability insurance while I’m pregnant?
To qualify for disability benefits, you must have disability insurance before you become pregnant. Otherwise, your insurer won’t cover any claims surrounding your pregnancy or childbirth because it’s considered a pre-existing condition.
If you have a group disability plan, pregnancy is usually covered under short-term disability. But if you have an individual policy and choose to stay home while you’re pregnant or after you give birth, disability insurance may not apply since each company treats pregnancy differently. Some insurers offer a benefit for up to six weeks after a normal delivery, or up to eight weeks after a c-section.
However, if you experience complications during pregnancy or in the days, weeks or months after childbirth, you might qualify for additional benefits after the elimination passes.
Applying for disability insurance before pregnancy
To make sure you’re covered in case of pregnancy, aim to apply for disability insurance before you start trying.
If you’ve had healthy pregnancies or births previously, your insurer will likely cover you during future pregnancies. But in these situations, your policy might exclude complications from birth or pregnancy:
- If you’ve previously suffered a miscarriage, preeclampsia or another pregnancy-related complication.
- If you’re undergoing fertility treatments or trying to get pregnant.
What to look for in a disability insurance policy
If you’re planning a pregnancy, ask your disability insurance company about these features:
- Pregnancy and childbirth coverage. First, look for policies that offer disability coverage for pregnancy and childbirth.
- Mental and nervous disorders. This is a rare provision, but it ensures you’re covered for health conditions like postpartum depression.
- Residual benefits. If you lose income or working hours because of a disability, this provision will provide a partial payout.
- Non-cancelable and guaranteed-renewable. As long as you pay your premiums on time, the insurer can’t cancel your policy or raise your rates.
- Own-occupation. This means you’ll receive benefits if you can’t do your normal job — even if you’re able to do other work.
Compare disability insurance companies
Pregnancy and childbirth are most often covered under a short-term disability policy, depending on the company. If you’re accessing short-term disability through your work, consider a long-term disability policy that may cover you for complications resulting from pregnancy or delivery.
Short-term disability insurance and pregnancy
Short-term disability insurance replaces a portion of your paycheck — generally 60% to 70% — if you can’t work due to illness or injury. It provides coverage for a limited time, and usually caps out at a year.
Under short-term disability, childbirth is often considered a disability. If you have a group disability policy, you’ll typically receive benefits for six weeks after a vaginal delivery and eight weeks after a C-section. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or experience complications after birth, benefits might be payable for longer. And, some policies pay benefits for pregnancy-induced hypertension or postpartum depression up to a specified period of time.
Individual policies treat childbirth differently. Some companies classify it as a disability and others don’t, so it’s a good idea to ask your provider about their parameters.
How does short-term disability work if I qualify for FMLA leave?
If you’ve been with your employer for 12 months, you might be eligible for maternity leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you also have short-term disability through work, your employer might require you to take your FMLA leave and short-term disability benefit period at the same time.
Let’s say you live in Texas, where FMLA leave lasts 12 weeks, and have a group disability policy with a six-week benefit period. If you have a normal pregnancy and vaginal birth, you could take six weeks off paid with short-term disability, and six more weeks unpaid through the FLMA law.
Did you know? Pregnancy is the most common reason for filing a short-term disability claim
Disabilities arising from pregnancy and childbirth make up a quarter of all short-term disability claims, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.
Long-term disability insurance and pregnancy
Long-term disability insurance replaces a lower percentage of your paycheck — usually 40% to 60% — for a longer period of time. Depending on your policy, the benefit period might last two, five, seven or 10 years, or until you retire or reach age 65, 67 or 70.
Unlike the short-term policies, long-term disability policies don’t count childbirth as a disability. But they do cover complications experienced as a result of pregnancy. For example, your policy might pay out if you’re on doctor-ordered bed rest. You might also receive benefits if you have a C-section and require more time off than what’s covered by your maternity leave or short-term disability plan.
Many carriers stretch out the elimination period to 90 days for pregnancy-related claims. Some also institute a 90-day elimination period for pregnancy, even if the other disabilities specified in the policy have a shorter elimination period.
It’s possible to receive your short- or long-term disability benefits during your pregnancy — as long as your policy was in effect before you became pregnant. If you apply after you’re pregnant, your disability insurance won’t cover any complications that arise from pregnancy or birth.
To purchase a policy that’s tailored to your needs, compare disability insurance companies.
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