Short-term disability is meant to provide you with at least a partial income during a time when you are unable to work. It does not cover injuries -- that is covered by workers' compensation. However, mental illnesses are becoming a growing issue in the workplace, particularly depression. Clinical depression is diagnosed depression.
What Short-Term Disability Provides
Short-term disability is a type of insurance. If you can't work because of an injury sustained away from the job or a sickness, then short-term disability will typically provide you with between 40 percent and 65 percent of your base salary. The benefits are designed to last only a few months, though they can last up to two years. If you are injured, you can begin receiving benefits immediately. However, an illness, including mental illness, would require a waiting period before you can begin collecting benefits. The waiting period is needed to show that you are going to be disabled by the illness and not just off work for a week or so.
Frequency of Mental Issues
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 25 percent of Americans will suffer from a serious mental illness during their lives. The Center for Reintegration reports that half of the reasons for disability are related to mental illness. It is prevalent in the workplace. As a recognized disability, it means that workers who suffer from mental illness are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Clinical Depression Qualifies
Ron Leopold, national director of MetLife Disability, said 6 percent of short-term disability claims are related to psychiatric disorders, and half of those are because of clinical depression. Clinical depression qualifies as a disability because it is not simply melancholy -- it is a doctor-diagnosed disorder that greatly affects worker productivity.
Should You Buy Short-Term Disability Insurance?
Though you can purchase an individual short-term disability, most people purchase theirs as an employment benefit. If you tend to suffer from depression, then short-term disability may be something you need to cover your expenses during a period of depression. Workers who recognize their clinical depression are twice as likely to use short-term disability as employees who have not been diagnosed with a mental illness, according to Spencer's Benefits Reports.
- Insure.com: The Basics of Short-Term Disability Insurance
- CBS Moneywatch: A not-so-hidden workplace cost: Employers Bear the Costs of Depression, Stress, and Other Mental Illnesses in the Form of Lost Productivity, Absenteeism, and Higher Disability Costs. Here's Why You Shouldn't Ignore These Conditions
- Hornberger and Brewer: Depression A Major Reason for Short-Term Disability
- CFIDS Association of America: What To Do If You Become Disabled