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Workers Compensation and Short Term Disability4 minute read

Today, I want to talk to you about another benefit that’s out there for people when they’ve been disabled as a result of an injury, and that is short-term disability.

The question that often gets asked which is whether someone who has a short-term disability insurance policy can receive short-term disability in addition to workers’ compensation. The answer to that question is it depends.

Orthopedic doctor shoulder patientWhat is short term disability?

Short-term disability is a benefit that some people have either through an insurance policy or through their employer.  If you have short term disability coverage, it generally covers you for a disability that keeps you from working for a few weeks or a few months.

The exact coverage of short term disability will depend on the particular plan.  If the benefit is funded by your employer, then it will probably be defined in your employee handbook.  If it is an insurance policy, then the policy will lay out what benefits you will receive in certain situations.

Do I have short term disability coverage?

Not everyone has short term disability.  In Georgia, your employer is required to have workers compensation coverage if they have three or more employees.  But, Georgia law does not require employer to have short term disability coverage for their employees.

Many employers do offer short term disability insurance.  Some employer provide short term disability benefits themselves.  Also, you may have purchased a short term disability insurance policy on your own.

To determine if you have short term disability insurance through your employer, you should be able to talk to someone in your employer’s human resources department.  They should be able to tell you whether you have these benefits.

Also, you can look at your paycheck to see if their is a deduction from each pay period for short term disability insurance.  If there is, then you should have it.  However, you may have short term disability insurance even if there is not a deduction on your paycheck.

How does short term disability interact with workers compensation?

Short term disability pays you benefits when you are disabled from working.  When you suffer an injury at work that keeps you from working, workers compensation pay you benefits for that disability.  So, both of them pay you benefits when you are unable to work.

Can I get short term disability benefits for a work related injury?

Maybe.  It really depends on the particular language in the short term disability insurance policy.

Some short term disability policies have language that excludes coverage for work-related injuries completely.  These types of policies may only pay you benefits if your injury is not work-related.  If your short term disability policy excludes workers compensation injuries, then it will be difficult for you to get short-term disability benefits under that contract if you have a work-related injury.  But, you should be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Now, most short term disability policies do not necessarily exclude work-related injuries.  Instead, they usually provide a credit or offset that is taken when you receive workers compensation benefits.

What does this mean? It means that the short-term disability policy itself says that they will take a credit for certain other benefits that you receive.  So, if you receive short term disability and workers compensation, your short term disability benefits will get reduced to take into account the workers compensation benefits you receive.

Therapist or doctor with patient with knee brace on leg and wheelchairCan I get short term disability benefits if workers compensation denies my case?

Probably, but you need to be careful.  Many times you may want to fight a workers compensation denial by requesting a hearing.

Most short term disability insurance companies will pay you benefits while your workers compensation case is being denied.  But, you and your doctor have to fill out forms to qualify for short term disability.

These forms often ask questions about whether your injury is work-related.  If you or your doctor indicate on these forms that the injury is not work-related, there is a good chance that those forms will be used against you in your workers compensation case.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.

To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

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