Obtaining Short-Term Disability Benefits in Florida
The onset of a disability can come in many forms. Causes can range from major illness to a serious car accident that leaves the victim unable to perform the functions necessary for work and daily life. Having disability insurance in these circumstances often means the difference between maintaining stability, which frequently aids in recovery, and financial disaster. While people commonly associate these disabilities as permanent, one is much more apt to experience a short-term condition that requires some stoppage in work, but not a complete and permanent withdrawal from the work force. Certainly, the knowledge that one will return to work at some point in the near future takes some of the stress off an overwhelming situation, although going without income for even a short period of time places many in financial positions that are almost impossible to correct.
Short-term disability insurance coverage is designed to cover these circumstances by replacing a percentage of an insured’s income for a set period of time. Benefits are obtainable through an employer or by individual purchase directly from an insurance company. When this type of coverage is offered through an employer, the terms of the policy are rarely explained to covered employees, but crucial to the approval of a disability claim. Having this information may help to avoid needing to sue an insurance company for benefits wrongly denied.
Short-Term Disability in Florida
Many people assume that the state government has employer-mandated or state-sponsored short-term disability coverage for all working residents, but Florida does not. Florida only extends and evaluates disability claims for permanent disabilities through the Florida State Department of Health Division of Disability Determinations, which conducts disability determinations for Social Security disability benefits and the Medically Needy program. Employers are free to offer disability insurance coverage to employees, but are not required to do so. Outside of employers, individuals must purchase their own coverage. However, note that often times, preexisting conditions will not be covered until the policy has been in effect for certain period of time, usually 12 months. Thus, disability benefits from private insurance companies must be purchased in advance of the start of a debilitating condition, or benefits may be denied.
Filing a Disability Claim
If a person has coverage, and develops a disabling condition that requires an extended absence from work, a claim must be filed with the insurance company to receive income replacement benefits. This is true regardless of whether the coverage is through an employer or an individual insurance policy. Depending on the policy limits, insurance providers will typically pay up to 50-60% of a person’s regular earnings with a maximum dollar limit. Assuming a disability claim is approved, payments will begin once the elimination period is over. The elimination period is used by insurance companies to collect a certain amount of premium payments before having to pay out on a policy. Finally, all disability policies have payment duration limits. This means income replacement will only be paid for a specified period of time, which is selected by the policyholder at the time of purchase.
Contact a Disability Insurance Attorney
If your disability claim was denied, work with an experienced disability insurance attorney to appeal this decision and get the benefits you need. Farrell Disability Law helps clients throughout Florida and South Georgia fight wrongful denials of disability benefits. Contact the office for a free consultation.