Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser Disclosure

Individual short-term disability insurance

If you can’t work due to disability, short-term disability can help pay the bills while you recover.

Name Product Issue age Minimum Coverage Maximum Coverage Term Lengths Medical Exam Required
Policygenius Disability Insurance
Not listed
2, 5, or 10 years or until age 65 or 67
Yes
Get matched with one of 15 top life insurance companies to find the best coverage and rates for you.
JRC Life Insurance
18 - 85 years old
$5,000
$50,000,000
10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 years to lifetime/age 121
May be required
Compare policies up to $10 million from 45+ top insurance companies with the click of a button.
Breeze
Not listed
$500
$20,000
Secure long-term disability insurance online by filling out an easy 10-minute application, even if you're a high income earner.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Short-term disabilities are more common than you might think, with 5.6% of working Americans experiencing one every year, according to the Council for Disability Awareness. That’s where short-term disability insurance comes in. It replaces a portion of your paycheck if you can’t work due to an illness or injury — but the benefits typically only pay out for up to a year.

What is short-term disability insurance?

Short-term disability (STD) insurance pays a percentage of your income if you suffer a covered illness or injury and can no longer work. It replaces between 60% and 80% of your paycheck and pays benefits for a short period, typically three to six months.

How does short-term disability insurance work?

When you apply for short-term disability insurance, you’ll need to choose an elimination period. Also known as a waiting period, this is the length of time you’ll wait before you start receiving benefits. The options vary between insurers, but usually range from one to 90 days.

If you become disabled, the clock starts ticking on your elimination period. Once the elimination period ends, the benefit period begins and you’re eligible to collect benefits. Since STD is designed to cover short-term needs, the benefit periods are usually limited to 30, 60, 90, 180 or 365 days, or rarely up to three years. Once the benefit period is over, you’ll stop receiving disability payments.

What qualifies for short-term disability insurance?

Each insurer has its own definition of disability. But generally, short-term disability insurance can cover:

  • A disabling injury — like a broken leg or hand
  • A prolonged sickness — such as glandular fever
  • A musculoskeletal disorder — including arthritis, back pain or spine and joint disorders
  • A chronic digestive disorder — like gastritis
  • Pregnancy and maternity leave, in some cases

What if I get injured on the job?

Work-related injuries and illnesses are typically covered by worker’s compensation. However, if you also have a short term disability policy that covers work-related injuries you might be able to collect both until your policy begins to offset with other income.

Some insurers — such as Mutual of Omaha — offer a worker’s compensation benefit rider. This pays out 50% of your STD benefits if your injury or illness is covered by state or federal worker’s compensation.

Did you know? Pregnancy is the most common reason for filing a short-term claim

A quarter of short-term disability claims are related to pregnancy and childbirth, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.

Depending on your policy and how you deliver your child, you might be eligible to receive benefits for six to eight weeks. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or experience complications, hypertension or postpartum depression after birth, the benefits might be payable for longer.

The catch? To qualify for short-term disability benefits, you must purchase the policy before becoming pregnant.

Disability insurance and pregnancy

How to apply for short-term disability insurance

In California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, employers are legally required to offer short-term disability plans to their employees. But if you live outside of those states and you don’t have STD through your workplace, you can purchase an individual policy.

Some insurance companies also sell private short-term disability insurance, though there aren’t as many options as long term disability insurance. One of the perks of going through a private provider is that you’ll be able to customize your elimination and benefit periods to suit your needs and financial situation, and it’s not tied to the options offered by your employer.

Is short-term disability taxable?

You won’t pay income tax on the proceeds from a disability policy if you paid the premiums with after-tax dollars. That’s because you paid your premiums with money that’s already been taxed. But your short-term disability premiums aren’t tax-deductible.

Is short-term disability worth it?

If you rely on your income to survive, it’s a good idea to look into disability insurance. That way, if you become disabled and can no longer work, your policy will step in to cover part of your income and help you pay for your living expenses.

While short-term disability can replace up to 80% of your salary, the benefit period is limited. That’s why short-term disability policies are best used to complement long-term plans.

Long-term disability insurance lasts many years or until you reach retirement, and the list of covered illnesses and injuries is more exhaustive. Though it’s the more expensive option of the two, you can cut costs by choosing a longer elimination period.

Who is short-term disability insurance best for?

If you fall into one of these categories, a short-term disability insurance policy can offer you peace of mind and protect your livelihood:

  • You’re a breadwinner with financial dependents
  • Your state isn’t required to offer short-term disability insurance
  • Your employer doesn’t provide short-term disability insurance as part of your benefits package
  • You’re self-employed
  • Your savings are low, so you’d struggle financially if you couldn’t work for a period of time
  • You have savings, but don’t want to have to dip into those funds in case of a disability
  • You already have long-term disability insurance, but want to bridge the gap with a policy that would kick in sooner

Short-term vs. long-term disability

Both policies protect your income, but the major differences are the percentage of your paycheck they replace, and the time that benefits are payable.

These are the key features of short- and long-term disability insurance.

Short-term disability insurance
Long-term disability insurance
Percentage of income replaced
60% to 80%
40% to 60%
Elimination period
1, 7, 14, 30, 60 or 90 days
1, 2, 3, 6, 12, or 24 months
Benefit period
1, 2, 3, 6, or 12 months
2, 5 or 10 years; or until age 65, 67 or 70
Types of disabilities covered

  • Pregnancies and childbirth
  • Injuries
  • Prolonged illnesses
  • Musculoskeletal issues
  • Digestive disorders

 

  • Long-term complications from pregnancy
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Circulatory disorders
  • Prolonged mental health conditions
  • Cancer

 

Cost
STD is typically cheaper than LTD
The longer the elimination period, the cheaper the policy will be, but the longer you’ll need to live on other savings or income before you get a payout

Bottom line

Short-term disability insurance protects your paycheck during the initial weeks or months of your disability. It covers a broad range of injuries and illnesses, from pregnancy and childbirth to back pain and broken bones. But the coverage is limited and more often than not caps out at a year.

Compare your policy options with our comprehensive guide to disability insurance.

Frequently asked questions

How often will I receive short-term disability payments?

Typically, insurers pay short-term disability benefits on a weekly or biweekly basis.

How will I be paid?

This comes down to your insurer. Usually, you’ll receive a check or direct deposit into your bank account or debit card.

I can still work part-time. Am I eligible to receive benefits?

It depends on your insurer’s definition of disability as specified in your policy. Some insurance companies allow policyholders to work part time while on claim, and others don’t. To find out for sure, ask your insurer.

More guides on Finder

  • 5 best life insurance companies for parents

    The 5 best life insurance companies for parents at different stages of life.

  • USAA SafePilot review

    Save up to 30%, but using your phone — even in hands-free mode — lowers your discount.

  • Car insurance in Sacramento

    Shop for car insurance in Sacramento with the best coverage, rates, service and local reputation.

  • Crypto savings accounts guide

    The average American could earn 140 times more in just one year by switching from a traditional savings account to a crypto savings account, according to analysis from Finder.

  • 7 best short-term investments

    Our picks of the best short-term investments of five years or less.

  • 7 best long-term investments

    Grow your wealth over the long term with these top seven picks.

  • Crypto savings accounts guide

    The average American could earn 140 times more in just one year by switching from a traditional savings account to a crypto savings account, according to analysis from Finder.

  • Pretected car insurance review

    Get recommendations for the top car insurance companies for you within minutes. But you won’t see your actual rate unless you go through the insurer’s quoting process.

  • Dayforward life insurance review

    Dayforward’s innovative income-replacement life insurance product appeals to many parents seeking simple life insurance solutions.

  • Life insurance for people over 60

    While it’s common for Americans in their 60’s to either be retired or approaching retirement, there still may be some beneficial value in investing in a life insurance policy. Compare your options and learn what type of policy will most fit your needs as someone over 60.

    Ask an Expert

    You are about to post a question on finder.com:

    • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
    • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
    • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
    • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

    Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

    By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and finder.com Terms of Use.

    Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
    Go to site