Using Short-Term Disability for Maternity Leave: A Comprehensive Guide (2023)

There are multiple benefits offered by short- or long-term disability insurance, including short-term disability for parental leave. However, taking short-term disability for parental leave is not always available. Read on to learn what exactly it is, when it’s available, and how to apply for it.

What is short-term disability insurance?

Short-term disability insurance is a type of insurance that offers some compensation to replace income lost due to an injury or illness that keeps you from working. Childbirth is considered a qualifying reason. This type of insurance only lasts for a short time. Short-term disability is different from workers’ compensation, which offers compensation due to a work-related illness or injury.

Although employers can offer their workers short-term disability insurance, in the United States, they are not required to by law. However, they can receive a federal tax deduction if they do, so many include it in their benefits package. Some states mandate companies to offer this kind of coverage.

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Typically, if your employer doesn’t offer short-term disability insurance, you can purchase it privately. However, this can be expensive, ranging from between 1 and 3 percent of your annual income.

Because the amounts paid and lengths of coverage vary, it’s important to talk to your insurance provider or human resources (HR) department about the specific policies. If you want to consider this option, it’s a good idea to find out if short-term disability is available before you conceive. You become ineligible to apply for it after you’re already pregnant.

Coverage for short-term disability usually begins between 1 and 14 days after it has been approved. It’s common for employees to use their sick days before short-term disability kicks in.

Using short-term disability for maternity leave

There are several reasons why using short-term disability for parental leave can be an important part of your financial plan. It’s vital to apply for short-term disability long before you begin packing your bag for the hospital.

Unpaid leave can be an excellent choice for families who can afford it, giving them additional time to bond with their baby. This time allows new mothers to rest, recuperate, and heal after delivery. It also provides extra time to organize your home, look for the right daycare, and prepare to return to work.

(Video) OBGYN Explains Maternity & Parental Leave in America

It’s vital to apply for short-term disability long before you begin packing your bag for the hospital.

Most families are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, but few families can afford to go 12 weeks without an income. The average physical recovery time for a vaginal birth is six to eight weeks (six weeks to a year for a C-section), so you need a lot of that time to heal and bond with your new baby. Returning to work too soon can also take a toll on new parents. For all these reasons, applying for short-term disability for parental leave is a smart choice.

Using short-term disability insurance for parental leave is standard practice, as pregnancy is considered a preexisting condition. Many policies also specifically address parental leave. Each plan will explain how much time off is offered, which can vary depending on birth circumstances.


FMLA refers to the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides some employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. But how does it compare with short-term disability insurance (SDI)?

(Video) Short Term Disability Insurance For Pregnancy

FMLA provides up to 12 weeks for families who have recently had a child. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. FMLA can be used in the following circumstances:

  • For the birth and care of a newborn child
  • For placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • To care for an immediate family member (i.e., spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
  • To take medical leave when you are unable to work because of a serious health condition

Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Whether an employee has worked the minimum 1,250 hours is determined according to Fair Labor Standards Act principles.

There are exemptions to the law related to company size, length of employment, and level of income. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are not eligible for FMLA. Similarly, employees who have worked with a company for less than 12 months or who make income in the top 10 percent of wages are generally not eligible for FMLA.

If both parents work for the same company, the 12 weeks can be divided between them and counted as a total accumulation of both workers’ time off. So, for instance, you could take four weeks, which would leave eight weeks available for your partner, or vice-versa.

Short-term disability insurance, on the other hand, does not apply to both parents simultaneously. SDI can be taken for 12 weeks, but it can also be taken for up to six months. This depends on your individual company and its specific policy.

(Video) Filing for Short Term Disability

Another key difference is that if SDI is provided by your employer, it is paid leave. Unlike FMLA, which is unpaid, SDI can pay you a portion of your wages for the entire length of time it is taken. Typically, this amounts to between 40 and 80 percent of your usual take-home pay. Because it is paid, SDI may also be subject to income tax.

How to apply for short-term disability for pregnancy

If you’re wondering how to get short-term disability approved while pregnant, the process begins by talking with your human resources department to know exactly what your coverage options are.

You’ll want to find out if there is a state mandate for family leave time and if FMLA is available. Benefits may also depend on whether this is your first or second birth.

You should also ask questions about any policies and restrictions for using vacation or sick time along with unpaid time. Many companies require employees to use vacation or sick time before unpaid leave kicks in. Finally, you will also want to find out who pays your premiums when you take leave. You want a clear sense of what happens to your benefits while you’re on leave, regardless of whether anything changes in your employment status.

Here are some more suggestions for making your parental leave the best it possibly can be:

  • Early in your planning process, talk to HR to learn all the details about your parental leave. What options do you have? Confirm that short-term disability benefits consider pregnancy to be a preexisting condition where you work. Ask specifically if short-term disability covers parental leave. Getting answers to these questions is an important first step in planning your options.
  • Talk with your partner about what you can afford, then discuss what you know with your employer. Again, this is important to do ahead of time. The more time you have, the more relaxed you will feel about your upcoming leave and postpartum experience.
  • Learn your company’s policy around parental leave. Some companies are more understanding than others, and this may affect when you decide to share your news with them, as well as future employment plans.
  • Early conversations with your boss and fellow employees can help ensure your duties will be covered while you’re away. With enough time, you may be able to help train the person who will cover for you. You can discuss any project insights and suggested strategies for covering your workload effectively. This can help put both you and your company at ease, and provide a smooth transition when you return.

Remember that you want to discuss short-term disability before you’re pregnant, not after delivery. The earlier you can reasonably begin planning, the better.

(Video) Maternity leave documentation pregnancy to child birth | how to apply for state disability insurance

The takeaway

It’s important to apply for short-term disability insurance as early as possible to ensure you receive the benefits. Don’t wait until after you have given birth, or you won’t qualify. Speak early on with your HR representative to learn the details of your benefits, as well as other parental leave options such as unpaid time off.

(Video) Maternity Leave & Your Finances: Unpaid FMLA, Short-Term Disability, Company Paid Parental Leave


Is postpartum depression a reason for short term disability? ›

Medical leave or temporary disability insurance: If your state or locality has a pregnancy leave law, (paid or unpaid) medical leave law, or short-term disability law, you may be entitled to job-protected leave and/or partial wage replacement for time-off due to postpartum depression.

What are the 3 kinds of maternity leave regulated by the Employment Rights Act? ›

Compulsory maternity leave, which is two weeks immediately after the birth which all employees entitled to maternity leave, must take. Ordinary maternity leave, which is the first 26 weeks of leave, including the compulsory leave period. Additional maternity leave, which is a further 26 weeks of leave.

Can your employer refuse maternity leave? ›

You cannot refuse maternity leave or change the amount of leave your employees want to take.

What are the three kinds of maternity leave? ›

Types of maternity leave
  • Compulsory maternity leave (CML) — the two weeks following the birth. As the name suggests, all new mothers must take this period of leave.
  • Ordinary maternity leave (OML) — the first 26 weeks of maternity leave. ...
  • Additional maternity leave (AML) — the following 26 weeks of maternity leave.

Is Short Term disability worth it for pregnancy? ›

It's vital to apply for short-term disability long before you begin packing your bag for the hospital. Unpaid leave can be an excellent choice for families who can afford it, giving them additional time to bond with their baby. This time allows new mothers to rest, recuperate, and heal after delivery.

How do I get more time off for maternity leave? ›

FMLA Isn't Enough: Here's How to Extend Your Postpartum Leave
  1. The fine print of FMLA eligibility. I'm not the only one this has happened to. ...
  2. Speak with your employer. ...
  3. Look into alternative programs. ...
  4. See if you're eligible for short-term disability. ...
  5. Use vacation time or sick leave. ...
  6. Bottom line: There's a larger issue at hand.
30 Sept 2020

How long after maternity leave can I resign? ›

You are entitled to remain on maternity leave for up to 52 weeks and resign towards the end of your maternity leave period if you decide that you are not able to return to work.

What is a good maternity leave policy? ›

The ideal length of time to take maternity leave, of course, is up to each individual family. But for what it is worth, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Policy Council both support providing 12 weeks of paid leave.

Do you have to pay back maternity pay if you don't return to work? ›

If you get contractual maternity pay you might only keep your full amount if you return to work. You won't need to pay back statutory maternity pay or Maternity Allowance, even if you don't return to work.

How much notice do I need to give my employer for maternity leave? ›

The rules on giving notice and starting your leave stay the same: you'll need to give notice to your employer 15 weeks before your due date.

What happens if I hand my notice in while on maternity leave? ›

If you resign during your maternity leave, you do not have to go into work during your notice period, you can remain on maternity leave. But if you resign after the end of your maternity leave, you should work your notice unless you have agreed to take annual leave or you need to take sick leave.

What do I need to give my employer for maternity leave? ›

You must tell your employer that you are pregnant, your estimated due date, and the date you wish to start your maternity leave. You will also need to provide your MATB1 certificate, which will be given to you by your midwife or GP once you are 20 weeks pregnant.

Do you get taxed on maternity pay? ›

You may have to pay some tax and national insurance on this. Your average pay includes any sick pay, holiday pay, back pay, bonuses, and statutory maternity pay from a previous pregnancy. You'll get the same amount even if you're pregnant with more than one baby.

Do you get full pay on maternity leave? ›

90% of your average weekly earnings before tax. This is the minimum amount your employer has to pay you. You might get more – depending on what's written into your contract. Some employers offer more generous maternity benefits than Statutory Maternity Pay.

Can I take 52 weeks maternity leave? ›

All pregnant employees are entitled to 52 weeks' maternity leave, regardless of how long they have been employed. It is a right available from day one of the employment. The first 26 weeks of maternity leave are known as Ordinary Maternity Leave and the second 26 weeks are known as Additional Maternity Leave (AML).

What does short term disability cover? ›

Examples of where short-term cover is useful could include suffering broken bones or other injuries that result in being unable to perform day-to-day tasks, illnesses that requires a stay in hospital or at home, during pregnancy , or surgery that requires an extended recovery period.

What benefits can I claim while pregnant? ›

Statutory Maternity Leave

If you are employed and pregnant, you are entitled to 52 weeks (1 year) of maternity leave, no matter how long you've worked for your employer. This is made up of 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.

How long is short term disability? ›

As the name indicates, short term disability insurance is intended to cover you for a short period of time following an illness or injury that keeps you out of work. While policies vary, short term disability insurance typically covers you for a term between 3-6 months.

Is 6 weeks enough maternity leave? ›

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends women take at least six weeks off work following childbirth. But with no federally mandated paid family leave, for many women maternity leave is an unaffordable luxury.

What am I entitled to if I dont return to work after maternity? ›

Remember, if you don't return to work you are still entitled to receive money for any holiday that you have remaining, including the time whilst you were on maternity leave. If you decide that you are not going to return to work during your maternity leave, you will still be entitled to receive statutory maternity pay.

Can I start a new job while on maternity leave? ›

If you start a new paid job during maternity leave you should inform HMRC and give your due notice. If you do not give in your notice, you will still be considered an employee of the first company. Your SMP will stop the week you start the new job.

Can you switch jobs while on maternity leave? ›

It's usually stated in the company contract. Most companies don't often have a problem allowing their employees to take on a second job somewhere as long as it doesn't affect their full-time work. It would be considered discrimination if your employer made a new 'clause' just for those on maternity leave.

Who has the longest paid maternity leave? ›

Maternity leave in other countries
  • Canada: 16 weeks at 49% pay.
  • Germany: 14 weeks at 100% pay.
  • India: 26 weeks at 100% pay.
  • France: 16 weeks at 90% pay.
  • Sweden: 12.9 weeks at 77% pay.
  • Italy: 21.7 weeks at 80% pay.
  • Mexico: 12 weeks at 100% pay.
  • Norway: 13 weeks at 94% pay.
24 May 2022

What company has the longest maternity leave? ›

Netflix. Netflix offers the highest amount of paid parental leave of all Russell 1000 companies JUST ranks, at 52 weeks for both primary and secondary caregivers.

What is the average paid maternity leave in us? ›

The average amount of paid maternity leave given by companies is 8 weeks, but this isn't mandated by law. Federal law only requires 12 weeks of unpaid leave. 40% of employers offer paid maternity leave in some form. 70% of women take some form of maternity leave.

What happens if you don't come back after maternity leave? ›

Although the FMLA requires your employer to return you to your former position once your leave is over, this obligation ends once you give notice that you will not return to work. You might find yourself cut off from health insurance and other benefits and any employer-provided paid leave programs you were using.

How long can you be on disability for postpartum? ›

Without medical complications: You can receive benefits up to four weeks before your expected delivery date and up to six weeks after your delivery. By cesarean section: You can receive benefits up to four weeks before your expected delivery date, and up to eight weeks after your delivery.

Is postpartum depression covered under ADA? ›

(To be clear, the ADA does not classify pregnancy as a disability, but any pregnancy-related disabilities, such as postpartum depression, are considered disabilities for which employers must provide reasonable accommodation.)

Is it easy to get disability for depression? ›

The standard of proof for getting disability benefits for depression is high, and some people may not meet the standard but still are unable to work. If that happens you can still be eligible for disability benefits under the Medical Vocational Allowance.

Can I collect disability after having a baby? ›

*New/Expecting mothers can receive up to 52 weeks of DI if there are complications before or after birth. PFL provides up to eight weeks of partially paid leave for mothers and fathers to bond with a new child within the child's first year. ► Can be used to bond with a biological, foster, or adopted child.

Is Bed Rest for pregnancy a disability? ›

A woman suffering from severe morning sickness is considered disabled by pregnancy. It also includes time off needed for prenatal care, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, or any related medical condition.

Is postpartum anxiety a disability? ›

Even though postpartum depression is often temporary, it may still qualify as a disability under the law, if it substantially limits a woman's life activities, such as sleeping or eating.

What benefits can I claim while pregnant? ›

Statutory Maternity Leave

If you are employed and pregnant, you are entitled to 52 weeks (1 year) of maternity leave, no matter how long you've worked for your employer. This is made up of 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.

How do I get FMLA for anxiety? ›

Go to your Human Resources department and let them know you would like to take an FMLA-approved absence for stress leave. They will provide you with the necessary paperwork that you must take to your doctor.

What does PPD stand for in pregnancy? ›

Postpartum depression (also called PPD) is a medical condition that many women get after having a baby. It's strong feelings of sadness, anxiety (worry) and tiredness that last for a long time after giving birth. These feelings can make it hard for you to take care of yourself and your baby.

What is short-term disability? ›

As per its name, short-term disability insurance covers you for a specific time in case of temporary disability. Similar to the policy, the benefits are limited to a maximum two-year period. You can continue receiving benefits from this disability insurance policy until your coverage is exhausted or fully recovered.

What is the most approved disability? ›

What Is the Most Approved Disability? Arthritis and other musculoskeletal system disabilities make up the most commonly approved conditions for social security disability benefits. This is because arthritis is so common. In the United States, over 58 million people suffer from arthritis.

How do you prove mental disability? ›

To prove your mental disability, you will need to have medical documentations, records and notes from any physicians you are seeing to show that your mental disability makes it impossible for you to work full time. The more medical evidence you have, the easier it is to prove your mental disability.

Can you be denied short term disability for anxiety? ›

Many mental health claims involving depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are initially denied, even when the conditions are otherwise qualifying. RELATED: How Long Can You Be on Disability Insurance for Depression?

When should I stop working during pregnancy? ›

A woman who is having a normal, healthy pregnancy can work right up until the start of labour. However, you can choose to stop working whenever suits you. Some women choose to stop several weeks before their due date but others will be at work even in early labour.

When should you start maternity leave? ›

CALIFORNIA MATERNITY LEAVE: California law allows working mothers to begin maternity leave at 36 weeks of pregnancy regardless of whether or not they have paid into the SDI fund through payroll deductions. (A woman may choose to work closer to her due date.

How much money do you get on maternity leave? ›

90% of your average weekly earnings before tax. This is the minimum amount your employer has to pay you. You might get more – depending on what's written into your contract. Some employers offer more generous maternity benefits than Statutory Maternity Pay.


1. CA Maternity Leave Explained by an Employment Lawyer
(Branigan Robertson)
2. New York Paid Family Leave Guide for Employees
(New York State Workers' Compensation Board)
3. Three Ways to Still Take a Paycheck During Maternity Leave
(Private Practice Skills)
4. Short-Term Disability: Common reasons for denial
(Resolute Legal Disability Lawyers)
5. How Much Does California Pay for Maternity Leave? Disability and PFL Explained
6. Paid Family Leave Employer Q&A - January 2022
(New York State Workers' Compensation Board)
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