How to Get Short Term Disability if You Have Surgery

Managing the Financial Aspects of Recovery After Surgery

About Employee Benefits
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Being faced with surgery is no easy prospect. However, if your medical provider has told you that you must undergo surgery to improve your health, it’s important to take the time to find out about any benefits you may have that can cover you financially as you recover post-surgery. One of the benefits that you may be eligible for is short term disability insurance or STD.

Understanding Short Term Disability Benefits

Short term disability is a voluntary, cash plan that pays a percentage of your full time salary for a specific amount of time, following the first week that you are unable to work. The Summary of Benefits should provide a great deal of information. Most employers will expect you to use up any paid time off (PTO) first, then the short term disability will kick in, providing you with a weekly check that is around 40 to 60 percent of your regular gross earnings. Some plans don’t start until 14 days post event, so be sure to check with your employer HR department to confirm the coverage rules.

Important: Not all employers offer short term disability insurance, so you will also want to enroll in this plan during the open enrollment period prior to having surgery. The cost of short term disability insurance is usually very low, but having this peace of mind is priceless.

After You Confirm You Have Short Term Disability Coverage

Once you have confirmed that you have short term disability coverage, and you schedule your surgery with your doctor’s advice, you will want to inform your employer as soon as possible. This allows your employer to arrange for staffing coverage during your planned absence. Provide the HR department with a doctor’s note that indicates the estimated length of time you will need for recovery. Then work with your manager to make sure this is a smooth transition, as well as any post-surgery accommodations you may need to perform your job again.

You will want to find out if your employer expects you to perform any tasks from home while in recovery too.

During the surgery, have a close friend or family member keep in touch with your HR department on your status and when requesting any time off (in case there are complications stemming from your surgery). The HR benefits administrator should be able to advise you on when your paid time off ends and when the short term disability begins. Ask when it ends too. They may not be able to tell you exactly how much each check will be, but the STD provider will be able to once the first payment is issued.

Managing Your Health and Finances During Recovery

If at any time you are informed you have to be out for an additional length of time, due to health problems or doctor’s orders, be sure to let your employer know immediately. Your spouse or life partner may be eligible for an FMLA leave to care for you during the recovery period, so explore that option with their employer as well. Use any savings to cover expenses during this time, and inform all creditors and utility companies of your status as they may be able to reduce or suspend monthly payments for a few months.

The most important part of this experience is to focus on your health and recovery so you can return to your job whole and well. The short term disability payments will end once you resume work, but they can be a good source of income during the brief time you are off work.