As a tradesperson or member of a construction crew, you are covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance for any on-the-job accidents or injuries. But what happens if you get sick or become unable to work for a short period of time?

Depending on the severity of your disability, you may have the option to file for short-term disability. This insurance is designed to keep you afloat financially, at least for a little while, while you are unable to work or bring in a regular paycheck.

What is short-term disability?

Short-term disability is a benefit provided by your employer. The federal government does not offer a short-term disability option.

If you live in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, or Rhode Island, employers are mandated to provide you with short-term disability insurance. These states also offer Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), but the programs are different than traditional short-term disability insurance.

Short-term disability is a great benefit for tradespeople or construction workers everywhere due to the toll the occupation can take on your body.

How long does short-term disability last?

Ultimately, the length of time off you will receive and the amount you get paid by short-term disability are determined by your employer’s policy. Short-term disability typically covers you for only a few months while you cannot work and pays you a portion of your current earnings. Many plans can pay up to 60% of your on-the-job wages.

How to Apply for Short-Term Disability

To apply for short-term disability, you should follow these steps:

1. Don’t quit your job.

If you are applying for short-term disability, do not quit your job. If the benefit is covered under your employer, you would no longer be eligible to apply for short-term disability if you no longer work for your employer.

2. Find out if you qualify for benefits.

Some short-term disability policies require you to work a certain amount of time before you can qualify. Be sure to review your job’s benefits before you file a claim. You should have received the details of your job’s benefits when you were hired, but your human resources department or your employer should have the information on hand.

3. Prepare the documentation you’ll need for your short-term disability application.

You should have your ducks in a row before you file for short-term disability through your employer. You should have your medical condition well-documented. You should also make sure your doctor will support your claim. This is one of the most important steps since your physician will be contacted during the application process by your short-term disability insurance provider. You will also be asked for extensive medical documents to support your claim.

4. Contact your employer’s human resources office for a claim form.

If you decide to file for short-term disability, you should contact your employer’s human resources office to find out what to do next. The office will likely issue you with a claim form and tell you where and how to submit it.

If you don’t have a human resources department at your job, talk to your boss directly.

5. Submit your claim form and wait.

The forms are different for each insurance provider, but you will need extensive medical records and physician documentation to back up your short-term disability claim. You may even be contacted multiple times by your short-term disability insurance provider to give more information on your condition. You may also be asked to give a verbal interview over the phone, but this is not required if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to a claims agent about your disability.

Your employer will also be required to fill out a portion of the disability claim. Whether your state requires short-term disability coverage or not, your employer will have to information about your earnings and your job duties.

Once you submit your short-term disability form, you may begin receiving benefits in as little as 14 days. If there are delays in the application process, the process may take longer.