Even in the safest, most cautious workplaces, accidents still happen. It's important to have short and long-term disability policies in place to protect yourself and your employees.

Workman’s Compensation Insurance

Nearly every state requires you to have some kind of worker’s compensation. You can purchase worker’s compensation insurance from an underwriter or you can choose to self-insure. Some states also allow you to combine with other companies in a pool to buy insurance together. And in some states your business might be too small to be required to have worker’s compensation insurance.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability is designed for employees who are coming back to work after an illness or injury. The waiting period for short-term disability are generally shorter than for long-term disability. People can often begin collecting these benefits between zero days and two weeks. Short-term disability benefits by their very definition run out in two years. After this period employees will need to get long-term disability benefits. Some policies pay for shorter periods of time, such as 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or six months.

Long-Term Disability

After hearing what short-term disability is, you probably have a pretty good idea about what long-term disability is -- everything beyond two years. There are different types of long-term disability policies and the waiting period is often longer than for short-term disability policies. Waiting periods for long-term disability benefits can be as long as two years. Benefits, however, can last several years: 20 years, until the recipient is 65 or until the death of the recipient.


Qualified employees can vary depending on long-term and short-term disability. They also vary depending on company policy. Two key features of qualifying for short-term disability benefits are:

  • Having worked for your company for a certain period of time.
  • Having worked a certain number of hours during that time.

State Law

Each state has different laws regarding short-term disability. For example, in Hawaii, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York, employers are mandated to provived up to 26 weeks of temporary disability coverage. You should check with your state department of labor to ensure that your policy is in compliance with state law. It cab be costly, as well as really bad press, to not be in compliance with state law. Your human resources manager should know state and federal laws regarding disability inside and out.

Buying Short and Long-Term Disability Insurance

Short and long-term disability insurance will generally come as part of a worker’s compensation package. By law, most companies are required to have some kind of worker’s compensation. However, even if you are not required by law to have this types of insurance, the cost of it will likely be far less than if you have to shell out for an employee’s injuries or illness.

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