State Disability Insurance Benefits
State disability insurance benefits are also called temporary disability insurance benefits and short-term disability insurance benefits.
That's because they provide workers with partial wage replacement for disabling, nonoccupational illnesses and injuries that aren't expected to last for long.
Workers' compensation insurance typically covers both short- and long-term, disabling, occupational illnesses and injuries. Occupational illnesses and injuries occur in the course of employment.
At this writing, only the five states listed below and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico provide or require employers to provide short-term disability insurance benefits. The name of each state disability insurance program is included.
All of the state disability insurance programs listed above pay maternity disability insurance benefits for pregnancy, childbirth and related disabling medical conditions. At this writing, only California pays benefits for paternity leave. The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers paternity leave for eligible fathers, but it doesn't make sick pay mandatory.
If your state is listed above, then your employee rights might entitle you to collect state disability insurance benefits even if you're unemployed at the time your disabling, nonoccupational illness or injury occurs. However, your employee rights likely do not entitle you to collect state disability insurance benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time.
If you disagree with a determination made about you after you've filed a claim for benefits from state disability insurance, then your employee rights entitle you to appeal the determination, file a lawsuit in court or both.
If you are to appear in a hearing before an appeals board or administrative law judge, then it might be a good idea to have an attorney represent you. (The same goes for filing a lawsuit in court.) In fact, the appeals board or judge might recommend it. Many attorneys specialize in representing people who appeal state benefit denials and might take such cases on contingency.
If your state doesn't have a disability insurance program, then your employer might provide one among its employee benefits for free or at group rates. (Check with your employer's human resources department or equivalent.) If neither your employer nor state provides disability insurance, then you might consider purchasing it on your own to protect your wages.
In the absence of state disability insurance, your work state might at least offer free "back-to-work" assistance programs, such as food stamps, vocational rehabilitation, job-searching help, work aids and self-employment assistance.
State back-to-work disability assistance programs are typically administered by divisions of state labor departments, such as unemployment offices. Alternately or additionally, state workers' compensation boards or welfare-related offices might administer same.
If you've been unable to work for at least a year due to a disabling illness or injury, then you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
See also Disability.gov, a Federal Government Web site designed to help disabled people.