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Will Short-Term Disability Insurance Cover Maternity Leave?

Will Short-Term Disability Insurance Cover Maternity Leave?

When it comes to maternity leave, many expectant mothers are faced with a common dilemma – how will they be able to afford to take the benefit amount of time off work while still having the financial stability to support themselves and their growing family? This is where short-term disability insurance may come into play.

In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of short-term disability insurance and whether or not it can cover maternity leave.

Short- vs. long-term disability for maternity leave

Understandably, navigating the types of disability insurance for maternity leave can be confusing. It’s crucial to differentiate between short-term and long-term disability insurance to understand their coverage in the context of maternity leave.

Short-term disability insurance, typically, is designed to cover a fraction of your salary for a limited period. This period usually spans from a few weeks to a few months. In the context of maternity leave, short-term disability policies often cover childbirth, providing a percentage of the mother’s pre-disability earnings. The coverage typically includes the time before the expected delivery date, the childbirth period, and a recovery period afterward. However, the exact duration of the short-term disability coverage can vary based on the policy details.

On the other hand, long-term disability insurance comes into the picture for longer periods of incapacitation. While it’s less commonly used for maternity leave directly, it’s crucial for more severe complications that may arise from pregnancy or childbirth. Long-term disability insurance kicks in after the short-term benefits expire and can continue to provide a portion of your income for several years, depending on the policy specifics.

FMLA protects your job while you take leave, but not your income

An essential piece of the maternity leave puzzle in the United States is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave over the course of a year. Family and medical reasons, which include the birth and care of a newborn, are eligible for the job protection FMLA offers.

While this acts as a safety net ensuring you can return to your job post-maternity leave, it’s crucial to note that FMLA does not yet pay benefits to cover income during this period.

For many expectant mothers, the lack of paid leave can pose a significant financial challenge. It underscores the importance of exploring other financial safeguarding options, such as short-term disability insurance, to manage the absence of a regular income during maternity leave.

Short-term disability insurance becomes a vital tool in bridging the financial gap that unpaid leave under FMLA creates, providing a portion of your lost income while you are on leave caring for your newborn.

Understanding the distinction between job protection and income protection is crucial for expectant parents planning their maternity leave. Exploring all available resources and protections ahead of time can help ensure that the joyous occasion of welcoming a new child is not overshadowed by financial strain.

What part of pregnancy and maternity leave is covered by disability insurance?

Disability insurance for maternity leave primarily covers the period associated with the pregnancy and postpartum recovery. For most policies, coverage begins a few weeks before the expected delivery date.

This allowance vacation time is designed to accommodate any medical necessities that may arise during the late stages of pregnancy, ensuring that the expectant mother can commence her leave if health complications prevent her from working.

The core period of coverage is, of course, the time surrounding childbirth. This includes hospital stay and recovery time immediately following delivery. The typical recovery period covered by short-term disability insurance for a vaginal delivery is usually around six weeks. For a cesarean section, which involves surgery, the recovery period covered can extend up to six to eight weeks, however, reflecting the additional recovery time needed.

After childbirth, the insurance continues to provide financial benefits for a recovery period that’s medically certified as necessary. It’s worth noting that the specific terms of coverage can vary significantly from one policy to another.

This variability makes it essential for expectant mothers to review their policies carefully or consult with their insurance providers to understand precisely what aspects of their maternity leave will be covered. It’s also important to distinguish that disability insurance covers the physical recovery from childbirth rather than childcare responsibilities.

For additional insights and guidance on maternity leave planning and financial preparation, can provide valuable resources and articles, such as “Navigating Financial Planning for Maternity Leave.”

Your short-term disability plan may cover pregnancy

One crucial aspect expectant mothers should investigate is whether their current short-term disability plan includes pregnancy as a covered condition. Many short-term disability plans recognize pregnancy as a qualifying condition for benefits, given its significant impact on an individual’s ability to work, especially in the weeks directly preceding and following childbirth.

Coverage typically starts a few weeks before the anticipated delivery date to accommodate any work absences due to pregnancy-related health issues. It’s essential to review your policy’s specific terms or consult with your insurance provider to understand the extent of coverage provided for pregnancy and childbirth. Knowing the details can help you plan your leave more effectively, ensuring you have financial support during this critical period.

Remember, policies vary widely in terms of coverage start and end dates, percentage of income compensated, and the necessary documentation to claim benefits. Therefore, familiarizing yourself with your policy’s particulars is key to maximizing the support you receive during your maternity leave.

Long-term disability coverage (LTD) can provide further protection

Insurance Company

Long-term disability coverage (LTD) can provide further protection for expectant mothers transitioning from the immediate postpartum period to recovery phases that might extend beyond the typical duration covered by short-term disability insurance.

While short-term policies are invaluable for covering the initial weeks of childbirth recovery, LTD policies become instrumental when complications lead to prolonged absences from work. These policies generally kick in after the expiration of short-term benefits and can offer a percentage of the pre-disability income for months, years, or even until retirement age, depending on the policy specifics.

This extended financial cushion is critical for those facing serious health issues after pregnancy or childbirth, ensuring that longer-term financial stability is maintained. To fully capitalize on LTD benefits, reviewing and understanding the eligibility criteria, coverage specifics, and the transition process from short-term to long-term disability insurance is essential.

Some employers offer paid family leave

family, holding hands, parents

Some employers go beyond the basic requirements set by FMLA and short-term disability insurance by offering paid family leave. This progressive policy allows new parents, including fathers and adoptive parents, to receive a portion of their income while caring for their newborn or newly adopted child.

The duration and amount of paid leave can vary significantly from one employer to another, but the core goal remains the same: to support employees during major life events without the added stress of financial insecurity. This benefit not only aids in the physical and emotional well-being of employees but also fosters a more loyal and productive workforce.

Employers who offer paid family leave recognize the importance of work-life balance and the positive impact it has on their team’s morale and company culture.

Can you get disability insurance benefits while you are pregnant?

Benefit Payments

Yes, you can get disability insurance benefits while pregnant, primarily if your pregnancy or any related conditions prevent you from performing your work duties. It is important to remember that the ability to claim these benefits before the baby’s birth hinges on the specifics of your disability insurance policy and state regulations.

Typically, benefits for pregnancy-related disability can be claimed if a medical professional deems you physically unable to work due to pregnancy complications or if you are advised to go on bed rest. Short-term disability policies, in particular, are designed to provide coverage during such times, offering a portion of your income until your medical provider says you can return to work.

How soon before getting pregnant should I get short-term disability insurance?

If you’re considering starting a family, it is advisable to secure short-term disability insurance before you become pregnant. Most insurance providers require a policy to be in place before conception to cover a pregnancy. This precaution is due to the “pre-existing condition” clauses found in many insurance policies, which can exclude coverage for conditions present before the policy’s effective date.

To ensure that your pregnancy and maternity leave are fully covered, aim to purchase short-term disability insurance at least a few months before attempting to conceive. This timing gives you a safety net, ensuring that your policy is active and avoids any disputes about the pregnancy being a pre-existing condition.


Is Short-Term Disability (STD) better than FMLA?

Comparing Short-Term Disability (STD) to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) isn’t entirely straightforward, as they serve different purposes. STD provides financial support by replacing a portion of your income during the disability period, while FMLA offers unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks. Essentially, STD benefits those needing financial assistance during their leave, whereas FMLA secures one’s position at work. The best option depends on your specific needs for income support and job security during your leave.

What is the difference between FMLA and maternity leave?

While often used interchangeably, FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and maternity leave serve distinct functions. Maternity leave specifically refers to the time a mother takes off from work for the birth or adoption of a child. This term is commonly associated with policies granting mothers time off, with or without pay, to care for their newborn or newly adopted child. On the other hand, FMLA is a federal law in the United States that provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for specified family and medical reasons, including the birth and care of a newborn or newly adopted child. Unlike maternity leave, which can be offered as a paid benefit by some employers, FMLA does not guarantee paid leave.

Does being pregnant count as a disability?

While being pregnant in itself is not classified as a disability, certain pregnancy-related conditions and complications can qualify as disabilities under various insurance policies and laws. For example, if pregnancy-related issues such as severe morning sickness, preeclampsia, or other conditions significantly impair your ability to perform your job functions, you may be eligible for disability benefits. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) offer protections to pregnant employees, ensuring they receive reasonable accommodations and are not discriminated against due to pregnancy or related conditions. However, the eligibility for disability benefits due to pregnancy heavily depends on the specifics of your disability insurance policy and the nature of your complications.

How long can you stay on disability after having a baby?

The duration you can stay on your short-term disability benefits after having a baby primarily depends on your policy’s terms and the nature of your medical condition. Typically, short-term disability policies allow for a recovery period of 6 to 8 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 8 to 12 weeks for a cesarean section, assuming no complications. This period is designed to cover the recovery time postpartum. However, if postpartum complications arise that prevent you from returning to work, you may be eligible to extend your disability benefits. It’s crucial to consult your insurance policy and discuss your situation with your healthcare provider to understand the full extent of coverage available to you.

Is having a baby considered a disability?

Having a baby itself is not considered a disability. Pregnancy and childbirth, while significant life events, are treated separately from disabilities under most legal and insurance frameworks. However, if a pregnancy leads to complications or health issues that significantly impair one’s ability to work or carry out daily activities, these specific conditions may be classified under disability protections or benefits. It’s key to differentiate between normal pregnancy and childbirth from complications that could be classified as disabilities for insurance and employment accommodations.

Which insurance companies offer income replacement for pregnancy disability leave?

When it comes to providing income replacement for pregnancy disability leave, not all insurance companies offer the same benefits. It’s important to directly consult with the insurers or review their policies for the most accurate and up-to-date information. However, as of the current landscape, here’s an overview of weekly benefit amounts based on popular insurance providers:

Aflac (Yes)

Aflac offers short-term disability insurance that can provide income replacement during pregnancy and temporary disability insurance and leave for conditions that qualify under their policy terms.

New York Life (No)

New York Life primarily focuses on life insurance and long-term care insurance and does not offer short-term disability insurance policies that cover pregnancy disability leave.

MetLife (Yes)

MetLife provides short-term disability insurance, which may cover a portion of your income during pregnancy disability leave if you cannot work due to pregnancy complications, as per their policy guidelines.


AARP, through its endorsed insurance providers, does not directly offer short-term disability insurance that covers pregnancy disability leave. AARP focuses on insurance products tailored to the needs of individuals aged 50 and above, including life insurance, health insurance, and long-term care insurance.

It’s paramount to review specific policy details or contact the insurance providers to confirm the availability and scope of coverage for pregnancy-related disability leave.

Where’s the Best Place to Look for Maternity coverage?

baby, newborn, child

Finding the best maternity coverage requires careful consideration of your healthcare needs and financial situation. Begin by reviewing your current health insurance plan to understand what pregnancy-related expenses are covered. If you’re in the market for a new plan, health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can be an excellent starting point. These marketplaces offer a comparison of plans, highlighting coverage specifics, including maternity and newborn care. Employer-sponsored health insurance is another viable option, often providing comprehensive maternity benefits. Lastly, consulting with an insurance broker can provide personalized advice tailored to your unique needs, ensuring you find the best maternity coverage available.

Let help you navigate what to expect by way of time, money, and savings for your parenting journey.


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