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Short term disability insurance for pregnancy & maternity leave in 2022

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14 mins
Does disability insurance cover pregnancy and maternity leave? It depends on type of disability insurance you have, as well when you get covered.

Having a baby is a joyous occasion — whether you're starting a new family or growing your existing one. (Well, it's supposed to be.)

It's also among the most expensive. In addition to the costs of preparing for and delivering a baby, new parents typically require time away from work. That means less income during a period of more bills and late nights.

That's why it's crucial that women and men alike understand their options when it comes to all things disability insurance and parental leave. In this updated guide for 2022, we cover everything you need to know about protecting your income before, during, and after pregnancy.

Read on to learn more!

Is pregnancy a disability?

When you think of disabilities, you probably think of injuries and illnesses that may last months, years, or even permanently. Not pregnancy.

But the unfortunate reality is, pregnancy can cause a wide range of health complications that may prevent the mother from working and earning an income. This is especially worrisome for older expectant mothers and those with pre-existing conditions because they are at higher risk.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, about 1 in 10 pregnancies result in health complications. Some examples include:

  • Postpartum depression
  • Cesarean section (c-section)
  • Stillbirth and miscarriage
  • Preeclampsia and eclampsia
  • High blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Preterm labor
  • Cesarean section (c-section)
  • Uterine rupture
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Respiratory distress and embolism
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Infections and sepsis
  • Worsening of a pre-existing condition like asthma, epilepsy, or multiple sclerosis

As you can see, there are many medical reasons for having short term disability or long term disability coverage during pregnancy. So, if pregnancy can cause disabilities — does disability insurance cover pregnancy? And what about maternity leave?

It all depends on the type of coverage.

How does short term disability work for pregnancy?

Short term disability insurance can cover both maternity leave for healthy pregnancies and disabilities that result from health complications due to pregnancy. Some plans may even cover paternity leave for expectant fathers.

This form of coverage typically pays a weekly benefit amount than can replace up to 60% of your pre-disability income — capped at a certain dollar amount. For higher-income individuals, it's important to understand that this cap will likely limit the amount of coverage you can receive to less than 60% of your pre-disabilty income.

Anytime your dealing with insurance, remember that policy benefits and features vary heavily from company to company. Always do you due diligence.

Short term disability plans offered through Breeze pay up to $1,000 per for accidents and sicknesses (including health complications from pregnancy), and up to $500 per week if you take unpaid family medical leave to care for a child, spouse, or parent (including maternity and paternity leave).

How long is short term disability for pregnancy?

When you file a claim with your short term disability insurance company, benefits will usually paid for a set number of weeks. This is called the benefit period and can be selected while you apply for coverage.

A policy's benefit period influences the cost you pay. The longer your benefit period is, the more you will pay, and vice versa. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for.

Short term disability coverage offered through Breeze allows you to choose between benefits period options of 13 weeks, 26 weeks, 1 year, and 2 years.

With most short term disability insurance policies, there is a waiting period (also called the elimination period) before you can begin receiving benefits. The most common short term disability waiting period is two weeks, although plans with no waiting period (0 days) and longer waiting periods (up to one month) exist.

However, benefits can start earlier if you can’t work before birth because of your pregnancy. For example, if your doctor orders bed rest for you four weeks before your due date, you would be considered disabled under your policy.

Plans provided through Breeze feature a 14 day waiting period.

How to get short term disability for pregnancy

Short term disability insurance can be purchased individually or through group coverage provided by your employer as an employee benefit if it's offered.

To apply for individual coverage with Breeze, simply get a personalized quote below. It takes about 30 seconds!

Then you'll be shown your recommended plan and given the option the customize your coverage if you like. From this point, all you have to do is complete a simple online application that takes about 10 minutes.

Get an online short term disability insurance quote in seconds!

Long term disability for pregnancy

Unlike short term disability insurance, long term disability insurance does not cover maternity leave for healthy pregnancies.

However, long term disability insurance will cover certain health complications resulting from your pregnancy, like many of those listed above. For example, if you severely hemorrhaged during childbirth and your doctor ordered bed rest for six weeks and you couldn’t work, you could receive benefit payments.

Like short term disability, keep in mind that long-term disability insurance has a waiting period before benefits are paid. The waiting period can range from 30 to 365 days, but 60 and 90-day elimination periods are the most common.

Pregnancy can also trigger latent illnesses that could result in a long-term disability. For example, a traumatic event during delivery could cause severe depression that could keep you from returning to work for months. Long term disability insurance would give you the financial breathing room to take the time to recover fully instead of returning to work prematurely because you badly needed the paycheck.

Many insurance companies will issue you an individual disability insurance policy if you’re already pregnant. However, it will be considered a pre-existing condition, and the insurer will exclude it, meaning no benefits would be paid for any claim associated with your pregnancy.

Contrary to individual disability insurance policies, group disability policies do not require underwriting and typically do not exclude pregnancy as a pre-existing condition. So, if you’re already pregnant and can add short term disability coverage at work when you join the company or during your annual open enrollment period, it would benefit you to enroll and have maternity covered.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

Wondering why we haven't talked about the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) yet? Because it's unpaid leave that gives you time, but not money.

FMLA provides some employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year, which can be used for:

  • The birth and care of a newborn child
  • The placement of a child through adoption or foster care
  • Caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
  • Taking medical leave when you can’t work because of a severe health condition

While it’s a great program that gives new parents time to bond with their new addition to the family, not every employee is eligible for FMLA. To be eligible, you must:

  • Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (it doesn’t have to be consecutive)
  • Worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months for your employer
  • Worked at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles

Companies with fewer than 50 employees are not eligible for FMLA, nor are employees whose income is in the top 10 percent of wages paid by the company.

If you’re fortunate, your employer may pay for your family leave time, even if your state doesn’t guarantee it.

Learn More: Short Term Disability vs. FMLA

Pregnancy disability leave by state

In lieu of FMLA's shortcomings, some states provide publicly-funded paid family leave programs, which include pregnancy disabilty leave. Similar to an individual or group disability policy, your doctor must certify that you’re unable to work because of your pregnancy.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia currently offer public-paid short-term disability coverage for pregnancy or paid family leave for a new child (biological, adopted, or foster).

California

California offers two paid short-term disability programs for new parents.

  • Short-term disability insurance. Available for a pregnant person four weeks before the expected delivery date and up to six weeks after the delivery (eight if a Cesarean section was performed). You can qualify if you've lost wages and your doctor confirms you can't do your job.
  • Family leave program. Offers up to eight weeks of paid family leave to bond with a new child. The benefit amount is between 60%-70% of your weekly wage. You are eligible if you have earned at least $300 in the year before taking leave.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in California

Colorado

Colorado voters approved Proposition 118 in November 2020, creating the state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. The program will become effective on January 1, 2024, and will offer eligible employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave. In addition, those who experience pregnancy or childbirth complications can qualify for an additional four weeks.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Colorado

Connecticut

Connecticut provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees who have met specific earnings requirements (at least $2,325 within a specific timeframe) and who've worked in Connecticut for at least 12 weeks before taking leave. The benefit amount is based on the percentage of your earnings that exceeds minimum wage, but is capped at $780 per week.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Connecticut

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia provides paid family leave to all employees who've spent more than 50% of their time working in DC (including teleworking or telecommuting) at least 12 months before taking leave. The Paid Leave Act provides up to:

  • 2 weeks of prenatal leave
  • 8 weeks to bond with a new child
  • 6 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition, and
  • 6 weeks to care for your own serious health condition

The benefit amount depends on your average weekly wage, but the maximum available is $1,099 per week (indexed to inflation).

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Washington D.C.

Delaware

Employees in Delaware will be able to take paid leave starting on January 1, 2026, as a result of the Healthy Delaware Families Act, signed into law on May 10, 2022. The Act provides up to 12 weeks per year of paid leave to care for a child during the first year after the child's birth, adoption, or foster placement. In addition, the benefit will provide up to 80% wage replacement for people who have worked 1,250 hours in the previous year for a Delaware employer.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Delaware

Hawaii

Hawaii has a Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) law requiring that large private employers provide short-term disability benefits for pregnancy. To be eligible for TDI, you need a doctor's note stating that you can't work while pregnant. You also need to meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • You've worked in Hawaii for at least 14 weeks (it doesn't have to be in a row).
  • You were paid for 20 hours or more during those weeks.
  • You earned at least $400 in the year before taking leave.

The benefit is 58% of your average weekly wage, up to $640 per week, for a maximum of 26 weeks

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Hawaii

Maryland

Paid leave will be available in Maryland beginning on January 1, 2025, as a result of the Maryland legislature passing the Time to Care Act on April 9, 2022. The act establishes a program for paid family leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a new child.

The benefit will be available for people who've worked at least 680 hours in the year before taking leave. The exact amount of the benefit is calculated from percentages of both your average weekly earnings and the statewide average, but the maximum you can receive is $1,000 per week, indexed to inflation.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Maryland

Massachusetts

Employees in Massachusetts are eligible for up to 22 weeks of paid leave per year. For pregnancy, 20 weeks of medical leave is available if a health care provider certifies that your pregnancy is preventing you from working. Twelve weeks of paid family leave to bond with your child is available to parents or legal guardians.

The earnings requirement to qualify for this benefit is at least $5,700 per year (as of 2022), and the earnings must be 30 times the benefit amount. The exact amount of the benefit is calculated from percentages of both your average weekly earnings and the statewide average, but the maximum you can receive is $1,084 per week

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Massachusetts

New Jersey

New Jersey has two paid short-term disability programs available to new parents.

  • Temporary disability for pregnancy is available up to four weeks before the expected delivery date, and up to six weeks after birth (eight for a Cesarean delivery). You can qualify if you've stopped working and your doctor certifies that you cannot work.
  • Family leave insurance offers 12 continuous or eight intermittent weeks of paid time to bond with a new child. You must claim these benefits before your child's first birthday.

For 2022, you must have earned $240 per week for 20 weeks, or $12,000 in a year, to qualify for these programs. The benefit can be up to 85% of your average weekly earnings.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in New Jersey

New York

New York has two paid short-term disability programs available to new parents.

  • Disability benefits. If you're pregnant, you're eligible for disability benefits for four weeks before your due date and six weeks after giving birth (eight weeks if you delivered by C-section). Only the birth parent is eligible to receive disability benefits for the period immediately after giving birth.
  • Paid family leave. Any parent can take up to 12 weeks to bond with their newborn, adopted, or foster child at 67% of their average weekly wage. In 2022, the maximum weekly amount is $1,068.

To qualify for the above NY programs, you must have worked full-time for 26 weeks for a single employer or worked part-time for 175 days

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in New York

Rhode Island

Under Rhode Island's Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program, new parents can receive up to five weeks of paid leave at 60% of their average weekly wage. (This amount is set to increase to six weeks in 2023.) Rhode Island also has a Temporary Disability Insurance program for people whose doctor certifies that they can't work during pregnancy.

For claims filed after December 31, 2021, you can be eligible for these RI programs if you've earned at least $14,700 in a year. You can still qualify for these programs under a more complicated earnings calculation if you haven't. The benefit is 60% of your average weekly wage, taken from the three-month period with your highest earnings. The maximum weekly amount of the benefit is $978.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Rhode Island

Oregon

Starting September 3, 2023, Oregonians can take 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a child after birth, adoption, or foster placement, with an additional two weeks of paid leave available for pregnancy or childbirth. The program is available to anyone who earned $1,000 in the year before taking leave. The benefit amount is calculated based on a combination of your average earnings and the average earnings in the state, but it's capped at $1,446 per week.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Oregon

Washington

The State of Washington offers paid family leave for employees who have worked at least 16 hours per week for the year before taking leave. If you qualify, you can receive:

  • 12 weeks of family leave to bond with a new child
  • 4 weeks of medical leave for pregnancy or to recover from childbirth, or
  • 6 weeks of medical leave for pregnancy if you've had complications or a C-section.

The benefit amount can be up to 90% of your average weekly pay, with a maximum of $1,327 per week.

How to apply for pregnancy disability leave in Washington State

Getting short term disability for maternity leave

No short term disability coverage or paid family leave? You're in luck.

Breeze makes it easy to apply online for an individual short term disability insurance plan that can cover accidents, sicknesses, and family medical leave.

  • If an accident or sickness prevents you from working, having a short term disability insruance through Breeze can pay you up to $1,000 per week.
  • If you take family medical leave to care for a child, spouse, or parent, this plan's optional Family Care Rider can pay you up to $500 per week. This includes maternity and paternity leave!

Any benefits you receive can be used for whatever you want. Take care of your newborn, pay the mortgage/rent, cover out-of-pocket medical costs — replace your lost income literally however you need.

It's important to remember that in order to qualify for family leave benefits, you must apply for coverage before you become pregnant. In other words, plan ahead now!

You can get a personalized quote in 30 seconds and apply online for affordable coverage in 10 minutes.

Get short term disability with family leave benefits!


The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. Breeze does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any testimonials, opinions, advice, product or service offers, or other information provided here by third parties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

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