Mamas on Bedrest: What You Need to Know About Short Term Disability Insurance

June 15th, 2012

Most companies in the United States do not provide paid maternity leave benefits for their employees. To date, only California has a law enacted that requires employers to provide paid family leave.  New Jersey and New York  each have short term disability programs modeled on California’s law.  So one can see, the amount of time off and whether or not a woman will be paid when she is on maternity leave will vary greatly from state to state and company to company.

Most companies will comply with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)which requires employers of 50 or more employees to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave while having a baby, for adoption of a child or to care for an ill family member or themselves with guaranteed job security. Unfortunately this time is usually insufficient for mamas who go on prescribed bed rest and are out of work sometimes for as much as 4-5 months! While there are a few companies out there that do offer up to six weeks of paid leave, these companies are somewhat rare. So in the US, when a couple is expecting a baby and chooses to spend time in the early post partum bonding with that baby, both mother and father utilize a combination of sick days, unpaid leave days, vacation days, personal days and short term disability insurance benefits (if they are eligible for them) in order to get the time off that they need and to still meet their financial needs.

So what exactly is short term disability? Short term disability works by giving employees a portion of their salary for a set amount of time when they are unable to work at their jobs. This amount of salary can range from 50 percent to 100 percent of what the employee would normally earn if he or she were working at full capacity.

If you live in a state that provides short term disability insurance, you’re probably already paying into the system as one of the automatic deductions from your paycheck. If you want to take advantage of these benefits, contact your company’s human resources department and learn about the eligibility requirement and what forms and applications you must submit in order to receive the benefits. 

Mothers and fathers who don’t have short term disability insurance that is state- or work-provided and who don’t get paid time off can obtain a short term disability plan from a private insurance company. While many people see this as an unnecessary expense and opt not to purchase a personal policy, we mamas on bed rest know first hand how an unexpected medical situation such as bed rest can have major impact on one’s employment life and financial stability. Personal short term disability plans can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars a year to a few thousand dollars a year depending on your age, state of residence and occupation. And while the monthly premiums may seem like a “waste of money” just a few weeks on bed rest, hospital bed rest in particular, will quickly make the premiums a worthwhile expense.

As with anything, before you purchase a short term disability policy do your homework. Make sure your insurance company/policy actually classifies maternity leave as a type of “disability.” Many insurance companies require the recipients to be employed for more than 30 hours a week and be between the ages of 18 and 61. You’ll also want to make sure that there isn’t a probationary period that must elapse before benefits are paid out. For example, you may be able to purchase the policy while you are pregnant or even on bed rest, but if there is a probationary period of 6-12 months, you may not be able to receive the benefits during the time when you need them.

Your company’s Human Resources department can be helpful in explaining the company’s policies for short term disability insurance and unpaid leave. The  US Department of Labor also has several resources that parents-to-be can utilize to better understand the Family Medical Leave Act and to see if disability or unemployment plans are available in their state.

We’re here to help. When mamas sign up for our semi-monthly newsletter, they receive a full report entitled, “What Every Working Woman Needs to Know About Paid Maternity Leave in the United States.” The report is part ofthe Bedrest Success Kit, a free gift every mama receives for signing up for our semi-monthly newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter, simply fill out the area in the upper right hand corner of this web page or visit And by all means, feel free to post questions or comments on this post below or submit them to

Mamas on Bedrest & Beyondwould like to thank June Owensboro for her contribution to this blog post. June is a freelance writer for Term Life Insurance and loves reading and hiking.

3 responses to “Mamas on Bedrest: What You Need to Know About Short Term Disability Insurance”

  1. Hello my friend! I wish to say that this post is awesome, nice written and include approximately all vital infos. I’d like to peer more posts like this .

  2. amelia says:

    I was placed on bed rest for complications with pregnancy and short term disability is trying to deny my claim. I didn’t work because that’s what my dr said to do. what are my options

  3. Darline says:

    As far as I know, short term disability cannot deny your claim if you were placed on bed rest by your doctor. What you may have to do is get your doctor to write a letter. When it is PRESCRIBED bedrest, it is medically necessary and insurance companies are obligated to pay. Now that is not to say that they won’t try to drag this out for as long as possible. But have your doctor write a detailed letter explaining his/her rationale for placing you on bedrest, the danger that was posed to you and your child and the outcome (if you have already delivered). With this information, your disability carrier should have what they need to process the claim.

    The one thing that could trip you up is if your doctor put you on bedrest preemptively and there weren’t clear symptoms/complications. Hopefully this is not the case. If you had a medical condition (i.e high blood pressure, preterm labor, premature rupture of membranes, etc…) and your doctor can document the complications, then you should be paid out. Good luck and let us know how things go!!

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