Legal Definition Under Georgia State Law
Short-term disability is a type of insurance that provides benefits if you are unable to work for a short period of time. It is private insurance you must purchase in the State of Georgia. There is no state-run short term disability program in Georgia.
Short-term disability will generally only cover accidents or illnesses that occur outside of work. If an injury happens at work or an illness is caused by work activities, then workers’ compensation coverage should apply.
The Basics of Short-Term Disability in Georgia
Georgia does not have a state-run short-term disability program. Instead, you must purchase private insurance or get insurance through your employer to have this type of coverage.
The purpose of short-term disability is to help you deal with expenses when you are unable to work. Most people do not have savings available to cover expenses for longer than a few weeks, so short-term disability offers a safety net if you have a sudden loss of income.
Typical short-term disability policies will cover a portion of your income—often, it’s around 60% of your average wage. Most policies will also only cover a few months, generally between three and six months, of being unable to work.
You can purchase a short-term disability plan on your own. Or, some employers offer to pay for a plan on your behalf, in whole or in part. When an employer purchases the plan, there may be additional strings attached, such as the requirement to use all of your sick days before your coverage applies.
Qualifying for Short-Term Disability Benefits
Whether or not you qualify for benefits will depend on the specific language contained in the insurance policy. But many policies have similar same requirements.
For example, many policies have a required waiting period before you can get access to benefits. That waiting period will generally be less than 14 days, and some policies have no waiting period at all. In addition, processing benefits is often slower if you have an illness instead of an injury because injuries are generally easier to prove.
Usually, you must be completely unable to work for a period of time to qualify for benefits. This determination is usually made by a medical doctor, and you must provide those medical records to your insurance company.
Short-Term Disability and Workers’ Compensation
Some people make the mistake of assuming short-term disability and workers’ compensation are one and the same—but they are very different:
- Workers’ compensation specifically deals with on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
- Short-term disability addresses virtually everything else.
Workers’ compensation also provides some additional benefits to workers. Medical care is perhaps the most significant. Both programs offer partial wage replacement, but there are still some differences. Short term disability provides wage benefits if you cannot work, but it does not protect your job in the same way that workers’ compensation does, for example.
Workers’ compensation is also provided at no cost to you by your employer because it is required for most employers by law. The same cannot be said about short-term disability. Although some employers offer short-term disability coverage, there is no requirement to do so.
If you are trying to get short term disability from your insurance company or are having trouble getting workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, John Foy & Associates can help. Let us give you a FREE consultation to discuss your options. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form and get your free consultation today.