How to Purchase Short Term Disability


Short-term disability insurance pays a percentage of an employee’s salary in the event he becomes disabled for less than two years. Such plans are usually offered through an employer, and pay anywhere from 33 to 66 percent of an employee’s standard pay. However, short-term disability plans can be purchased by individuals through companies such as MetLife and Hartford Life. Short-term disability benefits also cover pregnancy and recovery time. Getting a short-term disability insurance plan is important because about 30 percent of people entering today’s workforce will become temporarily disabled at some point in their careers, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.

Consider whether you need short-term disability insurance. If you have substantial savings or other financial resources, you may want to only get a long-term disability plan. However, if you do not have such resources or might become pregnant in the future, getting a short-term disability plan is probably worth the investment. Most short-term disability insurance plans cost about $197 a year (as of 2009), according to

Ask your supervisor or human resources representative about any available short-term disability insurance plans available through your employer. Fill out any required forms if your employer provides the insurance. You will need to provide information such as any surgeries or other major illnesses. Your premiums will be paid through deductions from your paycheck.

Research individual short-term disability plans through major insurance companies if your employer does not offer such benefits. Most self-employed people who can prove a fairly stable income can also get their own short-term disability insurance. Companies to consider include MetLife, Hartford Life, Lincoln Financial Group, Unum, and Sun Life Financial (see Resources section).

Apply for the short-term disability insurance plan of your choice. Be sure to understand how much of your salary this insurance would pay in the event of a short-term disability, including pregnancy. In addition, understand how long it takes for your benefits to kick in after the disabling event. Most insurance companies have a 1- to 14-day wait before they start issuing disability payments.

Pay your premiums by electronic check or credit card, depending on the insurer. Some firms will also send you a bill, but your policy is ineffective until payment is received and processed. Most short-term disability plans must be paid in quarterly or annual installments.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember that short-term disability insurance usually will only last one to two years. Be sure to supplement your personal insurance coverage by seeking long-term disability insurance, and improve your financial stability with keeping emergency savings funds.

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