Can I Receive Long Term Disability While on FMLA Leave?

If you find yourself needing to take time from your job for an illness, injury, pregnancy or other reason, there are a lot of things you’ll need to address. Replacing your income via disability insurance is one important factor to consider, particularly if your leave is unexpected. Here are some things to know when going on FMLA leave.

Can I Receive Long Term Disability While on FMLA Leave?

Long Term and Short Term Disability are two separate insurance policies that many people get through their employer. They’re used separately as well as in conjunction when you’re injured and can’t work.

To better answer this question, let’s examine the parts of it first.

FMLA

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a law that allows workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a variety of medial or family reasons. Your job is protected because your employer is required to hold your job for those 12 weeks. (Many states, localities and municipalities have also adopted their own supplemental “family leave” styled policies.) When you’re able to go back to work, you’ll return to that job or one that is “substantially similar,” assuming you are still able to do your job after your leave is over. You’ll have job reinstatement rights and continued health coverage during the 12-week period (but not after.)

FMLA leave is generally unpaid, although there are some employers who pay during the leave time. However, your health coverage and other benefits are still in place as if you’d never left (although you may be required to pay your portion if your employer covers most of it.)

The FMLA applies to companies with 50 or more employees who work within 75 miles of the company’s location. You must have worked for 12 months in the preview year, totaling at least 1,250 hours, part or full time.

Notification should be given to your company at least 30 days in advance, if possible. (This is for cases like pregnancy, scheduled surgery, etc.) FMLA leave can also be used intermittently, for medical treatments that can’t be done off-hours, physical therapy, etc. Your personnel department can advise you about the best way to schedule this leave and when to notify your supervisor that you’ll be using it.

Short Term Disability

Short Term Disability (STDI) is an income replacement insurance offered as a benefit by many companies, and isn’t available for purchase as an individual policy. STDI partially replaces your income (usually about 60% to 65%) for your immediate financial needs until you are able to return to work.

STDI lasts anywhere from 30 to 180 days, and doesn’t start until after you’ve used up all of your paid time off (sick time, vacation, etc.) Decisions are quick, and payments usually start within about 14 days. A lot of what and how long you’ll receive benefits depends on how your employer structures the benefit policy.

On-the-job injuries are covered under Worker’s Compensation.

Long Term Disability

Long Term Disability (LTD) is an income replacement insurance that begins when your short-term disability ends. LTD is both an employee benefit at many companies as well as a policy you can purchase yourself.

This type of coverage pays you a reduced amount of your salary (generally two-thirds) for the length of your disability. Most disabilities last anywhere from six months to three years, but some may be lifelong disabilities. Your policy will cover you according to how it’s structured. Depending on your disability, LTD could replace your income until you reach retirement age.

Generally, LTD policies require that you exhaust your STDI coverage before you can receive LTD payments, and there isn’t any “overlap.” The LTD elimination period is anywhere from one month to one year.

So To Answer The Question

It Depends.

FMLA leave only lasts 12 weeks (about 3 months) so most of it will depend on how long your STDI coverage lasts. If your STDI coverage is less than 120 days, you’ll have to apply for LTD after the STDI coverage ends, and you have no other “coverage” available (savings, lines of credit, etc.)

Should your STDI coverage last less than the 12 weeks, and you need to cover the rest of your leave with LTD, it is possible to use LTD during an FMLA period.

If You Need Help

Call The Herren Law Firm at 713-682-8194. We’ll be happy to help you with claims, appeals, and other insurance claim related issues that you’re having trouble with. We’ll give you a free consultation and offer a contingency fee arrangement to make payment easier.