The birth of a child should be something you enjoy. For many mothers, it's a time of worry. How will you be able to afford to take time off to recover from the birth and enjoy those first few weeks? Will your short term disability insurance cover your maternity leave? Here's a look at the details.
It Really Depends on Your State
Some states won't allow you to take short term disability leave for maternity and postpartum needs. In many cases, new mothers are forced to take some sick leave, annual leave, and unpaid leave to get some time off with their babies.
States are making changes, though. Your short term disability policy will tell you if maternity benefits are included. Your employer's own policy may not cover it, but you may be able to get a personal policy to help replace some of your income. You won't usually replace it all, but enough to give you a break to recover from the birth. The amount you receive will also generally depend on the length of time you've been with an employer or you've had your policy.
You May Need Private Coverage
There are some state policies available. California has paved the way to offering paid time off through state short term disability, covering 55% of a person's earnings for 10 weeks, including time before and after the birth. Other states may cover two-thirds of the salary, and some cover for up to 12 weeks.
If you have private coverage as well, you may be able to top up your earnings with that. Some private companies will cover 100% of your earnings, so once you get the state benefit, you can then top up to make sure you get your full amount for the time you have off.
You may also have to wait to be able to claim for the disability, unless you have been hospitalized for your pregnancy. To be paid for that time off, you may need to take paid leave, whether through sick or annual leave days.
Short Term Disability Is Commonly Used for Maternity Leave
Since the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects women who want to take 12 weeks unpaid leave after the birth of their babies, many women will choose to run their short term disability payments alongside this. In fact, the disability insurance is most commonly used for maternity leave since—unlike most other Western countries—there isn't guaranteed paid time off in America.
The cover may last longer if you have a c-section or there are other complications. It will still usually only cover up to the maximum your short term disability insurance would allow, which tends to be around 17 weeks.
Before you have your baby, plan for your time off. You need to make sure you have plenty of time to get the paperwork in order and claim for the benefits and coverage you need. Talk to an agent at Sunset Insurance Agency for help planning and for more information about using insurance during your maternity leave.