Temporary disability insurance (TDI) and short-term disability insurance (SDI) are basically the same thing. Both types of insurance pay compensation when you have to take time off from work due to injuries or illnesses. Sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably but there are some differences. The most significant is that SDI only covers off-the-job injuries. TDI, on the other hand, covers those that occur on the job.
Workers’ compensation is insurance paid for by employers to protect employees in case they are injured on the job. Employers with a specific number of employees are required by law to purchase a workers’ comp policy. The insurance benefits both the employee and the employer. Coverage pays for the employees’ medical bills when they are injured or become ill on the job. It also protects the employer from lawsuits due to their liability for the accident or illness.
In addition to paying the employee’s medical costs, workers’ comp also pays a portion of their lost income due to their injury or illness. Laws regarding workers’ comp vary from state to state. Each state has a maximum amount that they pay for certain types of accidents, including both permanent and temporary disability. In some cases, these differences are significant and they can impact the life of the individual. Even those people with temporary disabilities can feel the impact of their injuries for a long time.
Most Common Causes of Workplace Injuries
To collect workers’ comp benefits, an employee files a claim right after the accident or when they realize they are ill. The cause of the injury or illness must be related to work but it doesn’t necessarily mean they were at work. If they were in a company vehicle or doing something on behalf of the company at another location, they may still have a valid claim.
Some common types of workplace accidents include:
- Construction injuries
- Injuries from heavy equipment
- Vehicle-related injuries
- Slips & falls
- Falling from ladders or scaffolds
- Exposure to chemicals/toxins
Sometimes work-related injuries occur from an accident. Other injuries or illnesses occur gradually, over time. When accidents or injuries cause a disability, workers’ compensation may not be enough to cover their expenses. Additional compensation may be needed while you get treatment and heal.
What is a disability?
A disability is a physical or mental impairment that limits your ability to perform the duties of your job. A disability that is temporary is just like it sounds. You will be unable to do your job for a certain period of time.
In some states, short-term disability insurance is offered by employers. It may be provided at no cost to employees or at a discounted rate. Some states offer TDI through state programs. There are no federal programs that provide disability insurance for short-term disabilities. Unlike workers’ comp, most states do not require employers or employees to have coverage.
Only five states currently require temporary disability insurance including:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
In Maryland, workers’ comp pays all of the employees’ medical bills and additional benefits if they become temporarily disabled. The state recognizes two types of temporary disability: Partial and Total.
Temporary Partial Disability
A partial disability is one that prevents you from doing all of the work that you did before. You can return to work but you may not be able to work in the same position as you did previously. You also might have a reduction in income as a result. For example, if you drove a delivery truck before getting your foot broken in a vehicle accident, you might work at a desk dispatching other trucks until you heal.
While you are on “light” duty, your employee or the insurance company will pay you half of the difference between your regular weekly salary and the wages you currently receive. For example, you normally make $500 a week. On light duty, you get paid $300 a week. The insurance company or your employer will pay you $100 ($500-$300=$200 x ½) in addition to your salary.
Temporary Total Disability
A total disability will prevent you from returning to work until you heal or take medical treatment. You may qualify for benefits to compensate for your salary while you aren’t able to work. These benefits are usually calculated by taking 2/3 of your regular income. For example, if you normally earned $500 a week, your benefits would be $333.33. It is important to include earnings from any other jobs or resources to increase your benefits as much as possible.
In addition to these types of temporary disability, Maryland also offers benefits to employees with permanent total and permanent partial disabilities. Like other states, they limit the amount of benefits the insurance company must pay. None of these benefits include coverage for pain and suffering.
Another thing that Maryland has in common with other states is a schedule of body parts. This schedule determines the number of weeks of benefits you are eligible for if you suffer the loss of use of any body part.
Why Temporary Disability Benefits Matter
If your income contributes to the upkeep of another person or a family, it doesn’t take long to see the impact your injury can cause. Imagine having your income reduced to a portion of your salary when you’re already living from paycheck to paycheck!
Dealing with an injury or illness is already stressful on your body and your mental well-being. Add to that the worry that you won’t be able to make ends meet. Injuries and illnesses occur from nowhere. They don’t wait until a convenient time to happen.
Even temporary disabilities can take time and money to heal. Every temporary injury doesn’t last for a few days. What happens if you don’t get well before your benefits expire? If you don’t have a significant savings account to live off of, the benefits you get from temporary disability probably won’t make like easy.
Employees often find that seemingly minor injuries can turn into disabilities that prevent them from working. A broken finger can keep you from typing on the keyboard of your computer. A back injury might keep you from stocking items on shelves. Medication to treat a head injury might prevent you from driving or operating heavy equipment.
Although the benefits granted for various types of injuries might make recovery seem like a straightforward issue; it isn’t. Sometimes secondary conditions such as infections occur. Doctors might miss something that requires more extensive treatment or even surgery. You might have to “wait and see” whether your condition requires more treatment or healing. Some people just take longer to heal than others.
There is no real distinction as to how long a temporary disability lasts. Instead, the benefits for various disabilities define the duration of the injury. Benefits often last for three to six months. If your injury takes longer than that to heal, you need to know your additional options for getting financial compensation.
If your doctor determines you are ready to return to work before the benefits run out, they will expire. If you don’t agree with the doctor’s decision, you can request a hearing to challenge the ruling. You may also have to attend an independent medical exam by a neutral doctor.
What to Do When You Get Injured at Work
When you are injured due to an accident or become ill over time, report your injury or illness to your employer immediately. The statute of limitations begins from the time of the accident or when you first became aware of the illness and its cause.
Fill out a workers’ comp claim and get as much information as possible from your employer. You might have the option to choose your own doctor. Depending on your state and your employer’s coverage, you might have to choose from a list of doctors for treatment.
People who become seriously injured and are no longer able to work might be overwhelmed by their options. Some of these include workers’ compensation, temporary or permanent disability, and social security disability insurance. In most cases, you can only receive one type of disability benefit at one time. Depending on your state of residence, you may receive more than one type of benefits but one will be reduced to compensate for the other. How do you know which one to apply for?
The laws regarding all types of temporary benefits are very complex. Knowing which type of benefits to apply for can be confusing, especially when you are already dealing with a serious health condition or injury. Failing to meet the deadlines for filing for some benefits can prevent you from being eligible.
Sometimes injuries that result in disability are more serious than they seem initially. It’s possible to have a disability that seems temporary but ends up being permanent. Talking with a personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and your options. A local attorney knows the laws of your state and will help you get the most compensation for your injury.
Although workers’ comp is designed to protect employers from lawsuits, sometimes their negligence results in serious injuries of their employees. In some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer for the impact your injuries have had on you.
Receiving Workers’ Comp & Temporary Disability Benefits
Even if you follow all of the required steps to file a workers’ compensation claim, getting your benefits isn’t always that easy. Compensation comes from your employer’s insurance company and they really don’t want to pay.
Insurance companies use a number of tactics to get out of paying you benefits. They may claim that you aren’t really injured or that your injury didn’t happen at work. They also use any mistakes that you make on your claim to their advantage.
An attorney who is experienced in personal injury and workers’ compensation law can help. In Maryland where workers’ comp and temporary disability are intertwined, proving your case can be even more challenging. Never try to take on the insurance companies alone. You need someone who understands the laws and the tactics used by insurance companies to get a fair resolution for you.
When to Call a Personal Injury Attorney
The best time to call a personal injury attorney is immediately after you get hurt at work. Each state and every type of benefit has a statute of limitations during which you must make your claim. Failing to meet the time limits for any type of benefit will probably cause you to lose your rights.
When you aren’t able to earn your full income by working, the last thing you want to do is ruin your chances of getting compensation. Filing for one type of coverage might cause you to be denied another. When you don’t know what to expect from each benefits program, an experienced attorney can help.
A personal injury attorney knows the law and the process for filing a workers’ comp, social security, or other type of benefits claim. He knows what it takes to prove you have a temporary disability and the compensation you deserve. He can advise you on the types of records to keep in order to protect yourself now and in the future. Whenever the circumstances of your injury or illness change, you need the records and evidence to back you up in a court of law.
At Ingerman & Horwitz, we’ve already helped lots of clients get compensation for their injuries. We understand Maryland temporary disability laws and how important it is to you to get a fair outcome. Call us today and schedule a free consultation. We’ll provide you with a full, honest evaluation of your case and help you get the process started. If your employer was responsible for your injuries or illness, you deserve compensation. You should be able to live a lifestyle that’s as close to your original one as possible. Call today to get help with your finances so you can heal and get on with the rest of your life.