Short-term disability benefits are often mistaken for workers’ compensation benefits. However, they are two entirely different types of financial support. Although most employers in South Carolina are required to provide their employees with workers’ compensation protection coverage, the same is not true for short-term disability benefits.
Not every injured worker will be entitled to short-term disability. With help from your work injury lawyer at Shelly Leeke Law Firm, you can find out whether you are eligible for short-term disability (STD) and the steps you should take if your initial application for STD benefits is denied.
How Short-Term Disability Insurance Works in SC
Short-term disability insurance is a type of insurance coverage you have the option of purchasing. Not all employers in South Carolina are required to offer STD benefits to their staff. Employee benefits packages may offer STD insurance coverage, but that does not mean all employees will take advantage of this coverage.
If you purchase your short-term disability insurance through your employer, you may have the cost of your insurance premiums deducted from your paycheck weekly, monthly, or annually, depending on your preferences. However, if your employer does not offer STD insurance benefits, that does not mean you are without options. You can consider purchasing your own short-term disability insurance through another provider so you are protected in the event that you suffer a disability and are temporarily unable to continue working.
The difference between short-term disability insurance and workers’ compensation is that all employers with four or more employees are required to protect their employees with workers’ comp coverage. Short-term disability benefits are not required under South Carolina laws.
Additionally, workers’ compensation benefits cover your medical bills, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and death benefits and provide wage replacement benefits. Short-term disability benefits do not cover your medical bills or any other losses but instead, provide you with weekly or monthly checks that can be used as you see fit.
Who Qualifies for Short-Term Disability Benefits?
Anyone who has purchased short-term disability insurance coverage may qualify for STD benefits if they suffer a work injury, become ill, or are unable to continue working for any other covered reason. Every insurance policy is different. Some STD policies will allow you to take time off work for pregnancy, stress-related ailments, or to take care of sick family members.
However, to find out whether your STD insurance policy will cover you, you may need to carefully review the terms of your policy or have your short-term disability attorney analyze your case. Even if you do qualify for benefits, do not be surprised if your initial claim is denied by the insurance company. Insurance companies make money by paying out less in claims than they bring in through premiums. You can expect them to deny even the most deserving claimants if it means it will reduce their profit loss.
What Do Short-Term Disability Benefits Consist Of?
Unlike workers’ compensation benefits which cover healthcare costs, wage replacement, and other benefits, short-term disability benefits are different. Here, you will receive regular payments, usually for a maximum of six months.
The money received can be used however you need to. Many short-term disability benefits recipients spend their STD benefits on:
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Health insurance premiums and outstanding medical debt
- Utility and Internet expenses
- Groceries and household items
- Gas and car payment
- Clothing and other necessary living expenses
What to Expect from the Insurance Company
As previously mentioned, dealing with the insurance company is not necessarily going to be easy. Even though you purchased your STD benefits, that does not mean the insurance company is on your side. You can expect the insurance adjuster reviewing your case to scrutinize the details to determine whether your application should be approved.
It is not unusual for insurance companies to misrepresent the terms of a policy, delay the processing of a claim, or argue that pre-existing conditions preclude you from accessing the STD benefits you thought you deserved. If you have reason to believe the insurance company is handling your claim in bad faith, make sure you have your short-term disability attorney stuff in and handle the negotiations on your behalf.
How to Appeal Your Short-Term Disability Claim Denials
Although receiving a short-term disability denial can feel like the end of the world, the truth is, when you have a short-term disability attorney working for you, you do not need to worry about a thing. Your lawyer will be ready to go up against the insurance company at all costs. This is particularly true if the insurance company is attempting to make false claims regarding what your policy covers or offering you substantially less than you are entitled to.
The good news is, in most cases, you can get short-term disability claims and denials overturned by providing the insurance company with additional evidence to prove you are entitled to benefits. This might include:
- Copies of your medical records
- Statements from your treating physician
- Diagnostic test results
- Statements from your employer
- Witness statements
- Photos of your injuries
However, in the event the insurance company remains rigid with its decision to deny you the benefits that are rightfully yours, your short-term disability attorney in South Carolina will be prepared to hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law. If this means pursuing a bad-faith insurance claim against them, so be it.
Get Help from a Short-Term Disability Lawyer in SC Today
It is not unusual for insurance companies to deny applicants the short-term disability benefits they are entitled to. Since it will cost the insurance company money, you can bet they will do everything possible to reduce their payouts. Having a knowledgeable and experienced short-term disability lawyer in South Carolina at Shelly Leeke Law Firm working for you could make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
If they are handling your claim in bad faith, our firm will be ready to bring them to justice and fight for the benefits that are rightfully yours. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as today to find out what is next for your case when you contact us through our online contact form or call our office.