How To Get Short-Term Disability For Mental Health

According to WHO, 15% of the people suffering from mental health problems are of working age. Since mental health affects how a person performs at work, one requires short-term disability insurance. But how do you get a short-term disability for mental health?

Your condition must be affecting your performance at work and proofed by a medical professional to get disability coverage for mental health. Afterward, you can get statements from your employers and the professional in a three-in-one form. Then the form is submitted to the insurance company.

In the article, you will learn everything about short-term disability for mental health.

What Is Short-Term Disability for Mental Health?

A short-term disability for mental health is a type of insurance that covers a member for a short period of disability. During this period, the person receives payments between half and two-thirds of their current salary.  Depending on the policy, the disability insurance covers a term between 3 -6 months.

The coverage can be provided by a private insurance company or from your employers. This cover can also be supplemental insurance as an additional policy on your existing policy.

Among the conditions that qualify you to seek a mental health disability include

1. Anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorder is among the common mental health affecting people in the workplace. A person with an anxiety disorder may even turn down a career-making opportunity if it involves speaking in public or some of their fears. A person with an anxiety disorder is eligible for a leave.

2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD includes a traumatic experience from the near or far past that affects your current life. The symptoms include a lack of concentration, memory loss, and poor relationships. Since all the above qualities are required to perform in a workplace, the affected person qualifies for short-term disability leave.

3. Substance Abuse

A substance abuse disorder impacts a person’s productivity at work. The affected person might report late to work, fall sick during work hours, or be absent regularly. To go through rehab and recover, you can take short-term disability insurance.

4. Panic Disorders or Bipolar

A panic disorder may cause an episode of extreme fear, while bipolar disorder causes mood swings. According to a study, people with bipolar are absent 12 more work days annually compared to others. With the condition, you’re eligible for a short-term disability.

5. Depression

Depression disorder involves a persistent feeling of lack of interest and sadness. Mostly the affected person is present but can't focus or is absent altogether. While it also affects social interactions, affected persons can request a short-term disability to recover.

When Should You Request for Short-Term Disability?

Most mental health conditions qualifying for a short-term disability need medical attention as soon as possible. Therefore, the best time to request the disability is the earliest possible when your work performance begins to get affected. Various things can affect the time for your request.

They include:

1. Your Working Days

You must have already worked for the period required by your company before qualifying. In most companies, the employees require you to work for three months to a year before becoming eligible. If your working hours don’t qualify you, even with the condition, you cannot claim.

2. Medical Professional Report

While your employers might be already noticing some of the symptoms of your condition, they must wait for your psychiatrist’s report. The professional must evaluate you for several days before giving an official report. Afterward, you can claim disability leave.

What To Know Before Getting a Short-Term Disability for Mental Health

Most insurance companies have limitations when insuring people with ongoing conditions. They might require the person to pay more than a person without a history since they are more likely to claim. However, the policy might vary with the severity of your condition and the insurance company.

Also, most short-term disability plans don't cover mental health illnesses. Therefore, one must request their employee to clarify whether their policy covers mental health too.

  • The first step is to learn whether you're eligible before applying.
  • Unlike a physical injury, where there is physical proof, mental health requires facts. You must provide as many supporting documents as possible to better your chances. Without enough proof, the application can be turned down by your insurance company.
  • You can appeal if you receive a denial letter. But if you feel you are qualified for the benefits, file the appeal within 180 days from when you received the denial letter. If the reason for the denial is incomplete medical records, submit an update.

The appeal process can be complicated and requires knowledge of the law. Luckily, many law firms can help with your claim process.

How To Get Short-Term Disability for Mental Health?

After confirming that your employers offer short-term benefits for mental health, you can proceed to the applications. Then follow up the applications according to this process.

  1. Get documents supporting your claim that your work performance is affected and proved by a psychiatrist.
  2. The forms are then forwarded to the human resources department. Let your HR know the condition. This is one way of smoothening the application process. With your employers aware of the condition, they’ll be quicker when processing the application.
  3. Now fill up the claim form. The claiming form involves a statement from you, your employer, and your psychiatrist. This can be in one form or three different forms, which are combined into one.
  4. In your statement, write your personal information, your job, and your condition, including the reason for the application.
  5. The employer’s statement will include information about your role in the company, including your salary. Also, they are supposed to write about your history with the company and their compensation plans.
  6. The medical professional statement will include reports on your condition and its impact.
  7. Then the form is submitted to the claim administrator from your insurance company.
  8. You can expect to hear a response in two weeks, depending on the claim. However, it's best to continue communicating with your claim administrator within this period.

Advantages Of a Short-Term Disability for Mental Health

Some states, like California and New York, require companies to provide short-term coverage of employees. However, it’s not a requirement in most states, meaning it’s not a must-have for companies to have them.

This leaves most employees having to work through their conditions and receiving treatment only after or before work. Following are the advantages of short-term disability for employees and employers.

1. Time To Recover

During the disability period, the employee gets quality time away from the stresses surrounding Job. Most importantly, they can seek medical support and begin the recovery journey. 

2. Company Workflow Isn’t Interfered With

The company has some financial freedom because the insurance company is the one that compensates the employee. This allows them to hire a temporary replacement when the employee is away and manage to pay them.

3. Money To Cover Bills

Unlike unpaid leave, short-term disability covers provide money for upkeep. You can pay most of your bills without working or needing a loan.

4. Employers Retain Their Employee

Without the cover, most employees must quit the company when their condition worsens. This would be a loss to the company, mostly if that employee plays a major role.

What Happens If You Haven’t Recovered Within the Short Term?

Most short-term disability policies cover people for three to six months. However, some coverage can last up to a year, depending on the policy. If the person can't return to work after the period, they must extend their policy to the long term.  

When most people fail to return to work after the expected period, they should email their employer with reasons. Failure to do this risks termination of their contract and possibly a bad recommendation.

If you don’t communicate with the insurance company, they’re likely to stop providing payments. You should also talk with your lawyer and advance your policy for long-term disability.

Is The Job Protected During a Short-Term Disability for Mental Health

A short-term disability license doesn't protect someone's work during the period. The company can fire you legally during the period, and you might also get demoted.

However, any company covered by ADA (Americans with Disability Act) has more challenges firing a person during the period. Consult your lawyer on the best way to proceed after you get fired.

How Do Your Return to Work After Short-Term Disability for Mental Health

Returning to work after the leave can be challenging or easy, depending on your condition. Various things must be observed to make the return successful and smooth. These things include:

  1. Get Cleared by the professional monitoring your mental state through the leave. If the professional feels like you're ready, you can now proceed to the next step.
  2. Ready yourself because you might find changes in the office, including new employees. This is vital, especially if dealing with anxiety disorder.
  3. Contact your company’s human resources department and share your medical report. They can help if your general practitioner or psychiatrist recommends you be assigned a less stressful position.
  4. Rewrite your resume and include any new skills you might have gained during the leave. These might be crucial when determining your new role or position.
  5. You can also request time adjustments and streamline your work with your preferred time. Some medicines might make you sleepy in the mornings.


Mental health is crucial in a workplace as it affects how a person performs and relates to colleagues. If you’re suffering from a type of mental health problem, you should seek a short-term leave. The application process starts by learning whether your company provides a short-term disability cover.

Likewise, the process involves written statements from you, your company, and your doctor. Within 14 days, you begin benefiting from the cover for the time in your policy. If you don't qualify, you can appeal with the help of a lawyer.

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