Short-Term Disability vs. Workers’ Comp (Differences Explained)

If you are suffering an illness or injury, you may be curious if there are any available benefits to cover the income you have lost. There are two options for most workers who have sustained disabilities that only last a short time: short-term disability and workers’ compensation benefits. Both of these benefits are meant to help out-of-work employees due to injuries or sickness, but there are differences between these two types of benefits.

Short-term disability provides workers a percentage of their monthly income for illnesses and injuries that are not work-related. Workers’ compensation helps people who have suffered a job-related injury or developed an occupational illness to get the financial and medical benefits required to make a full recovery.

The attorneys at Krasno Law can help you understand the differences between the two benefits to ensure you apply for the correct benefit and that you will not have to pay back any benefits you receive. 

What Is Short-Term Disability?

Short-term disability is an insurance policy covering non-work related illness or injury such as diseases, sicknesses, pregnancy, or car accidents. These benefits are only available if a policy has been purchased through an insurance carrier or your union membership offers it. If you become disabled and are unable to work for a relatively short period of time (often up to six months), you can file a short-term disability claim with your insurance company. 

If approved, you could receive monthly payments of 40 to 60% of the income you were taking in monthly prior to your injuries. The percentage will depend on the terms of your policy. Short-term disability only covers lost income, not medical expenses. If you receive short-term disability premiums from an employer, you may owe federal income tax; however, if the premiums come from a third-party disability company, Pennsylvania does not enforce income taxes on those payments.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

If you have experienced a work-related injury, you can file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer. The injured worker is entitled to receive medical benefits and lost wage benefits in Pennsylvania. Your employer’s insurance carrier is responsible for paying for any injury-related medical expenses deemed necessary and reasonable. 

Workers’ compensation covers immediate medical expenses, including an essential ambulance ride from your workplace, the cost of any hospital stays, or necessary medical care. Medical payments will continue for the duration of your treatment. If it is discovered that you will have a long-term medical need due to your work-related injury, workers’ compensation can offer a settlement to include funds that will be needed to pay for future medical care.

What Is the Difference Between Short-Term Disability and Workers’ Compensation?

The main difference between short-term disability and workers’ compensation is the reason behind the claim. Short-term disability is for people who are injured or have an illness unrelated to their workplace. Workers’ comp is for employees who have suffered a work-related injury or illness. 

Short-term disability benefits are typically paid through an employee’s weekly paycheck, and workers’ compensation is paid by your employer, not you. Workers’ compensation benefits typically last longer than the benefits offered through short-term disability. Workers’ compensation benefits are non-taxable but short-term disability benefits may be subject to taxation. 

Application Process for Short-Term Disability and Workers’ Compensation

Knowing which insurance you should be applying for can be confusing. If your injury was sustained at work, you should apply for workers’ compensation benefits. If your workers’ compensation benefits are not approved, you are then able to apply for benefits through short-term disability. Workers’ compensation benefits can be denied if the injury occurs often or is repetitive. 

If you have applied for workers’ comp. and your employer tells you to apply for short-term disability instead; this could be happening for two reasons. Your employer may not understand the difference between workers’ comp. and short-term disability. Or they could be trying to pull a fast one on you so that they do not have to cover your workers’ compensation claim.

How Can Krasno Law Help?

Filing a workers’ compensation or short-term disability claim can be frustrating and complicated. You may be denied by your employer to receive workers’ compensation, or they may assert that your injuries were not sustained at work or that the condition you have is not warranted to receive compensation. Our experienced attorneys can help collect the necessary documentation and evidence from your physicians to help substantiate your injury. 

Every insurance policy and plan can vary greatly and have strict deadlines for filing and appealing claims. Our lawyers will help you to review your policy or plan to ensure you meet any required deadlines, that appeals are done in a timely manner, and that all necessary evidence is gathered and provided to the insurance companies. Contact Krasno Law today to speak with one of our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys and receive a free case evaluation.

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