If you have a history of, or have just started experiencing depression, you may be thinking about short term disability as an option for time off from your job, to deal with the stress and other side effects caused by depression. However, many people with depression will often fear for their job security and not consider taking time off as an option. Thankfully, speaking with your doctor in a safe and confidential environment can often help these situations, and STD (short term disability) may indeed be the very thing that you doctor will recommend.
What Do I Need To Do?
If you feel your job is contributing to your stress levels and/or depression then you will first need to speak with your doctor before attempting to claim any disability benefits with your employer. Providing you are honest and open with your doctor, they should be able to at least sign you off on sick leave and if they feel necessary, they can also help you claim short term disability. Be aware that there may be forms for your doctor to complete for STD which they may charge you for, so be sure your employer provides this benefit before pursuing it.
Your doctor may also suggest you see a psychiatrist and talk with them. While this may seem daunting, you should remember that as well as doctors, psychiatrists also follow strict confidentiality rules and will only want to help you get through your problems. They can also support you in your case for making a short term disability claim with your employer.
Using Short Term Disability
If you do indeed end up taking short term disability as a form of leave, you can expect to have around 10-26 weeks covered whilst you are not in work. Normally, you would get a fixed amount of your wage during this period that can sometimes start higher (approx 60-75% of your usual wage) and then settle at a lower amount for the remaining bulk period of your leave (approx 50%). The higher amount paid out at the start is to allow you to adjust to life outside of work.
Your short term disability is usually paid out by either your employer or an insurance company which acts as a “middle man” between you, your doctor and your employer. If the disability cover is provided by an insurer, the premium is either covered by your employer or yourself. You would have been made aware of the conditions of such benefits whilst starting your employment, so you can refer to employee contract to fully understand your circumstances.
What If I Need More Time Of Work?
If you and your medical professionals feel that short term disability is not enough to aid you in your recovery and start back to work then you would have to look into the option of long term disability. This option may not be available with every employer that provides a short term option so you would again need to refer to your employee contract. Long term disability will only be considered once you have used up or are coming towards the end of your short term disability, as this is often a last resort which can enable you to have additional months, or even years from work if your recovery is dependant on it.
The transfer to long term disability should be a smooth one however this is fully dependant on your employer and/or insurance company so it’s best to ask your doctor to help you during the transition in any way possible.
When long term disability is available, it will provide you with job security whilst you recover. However when long term disability is not an option and you are unable to return to work, you will need to check with your local state on what benefits you can receive. It also good to note that future potential employers will not be able to discriminate against you for leaving your previous job due to a former disability.