Saturday, June 1, 2013

Question of the Week: What's Up with Short-Term Disability Insurance?

Sooooooooo, filling out my new employee forms, the old "do you want to pay for short-term disability insurance?" question popped up. This option wasn't available with my first pregnancy (read: I had no insurance way back then), thus this is a completely new path for me. My current options for it are about $40 a month for the 7 day exclusion option  or $20 for the 30 day exclusion option.

I remembered that other women I know mentioned using it during their maternity leave, so it begs the question: Can I? My quick fingers googled on my iPhone for answers  (it popped in my head while I was at work and I HAD TO KNOW then). Alas, the results were not very helpful. Most of the answers applied towards the surrogate mother and not the intended parent (IP). Switched to googling about people who adopt and one answer returned that they could not. STD benefits (I giggle every time see the acronym) used in the context of maternity leave is allowed because of a woman's need to recover physically. That said - tiny print on a phone, especially when most of the results are on forums, is not full of awesome.

The uncertainty made me think I should to ask a professional, which was great because we already needed to contact our attorney about the next steps. She had told us that if we were successful with IVF then we would need to petition the court to have my name put on the birth certificate (instead of our GC's) during our 2nd trimester. We kept forgetting except at times where emailing/calling her wasn't practical, and thus having this questions (and wanting a fast answer) reminded and motivated us to contact her ASAP.

Side note: attorneys for this process is NOT cheap. This was a cost we didn't account for well. In India it was either included or only a few hundred dollars extra. We naively thought since my SIL was our GC that we would not need an attorney, but our fertility clinic informed us to the contrary. Our total cost for this is around $6500 as explained at the bottom here, with our second payment coming up.

The email I sent was as follows (with the boring parts taken out):
I have a quick question that I think I know the answer to, but maybe you could shed some light. I'm filling out my new employee forms for a job and I have the option to take short term disability.  I know pregnant women often use short term disability to receive partial pay while they are on maternity leave, but I'm not sure if we can use it in our case - or if it's even considered a pre-existing condition. Since it could make such a big difference for us, I want to make sure before I turn it down. I don't think I qualify for FMLA since I haven't been employed for a year. I've been a contractor for 6+months, but was just converted to employee status last week.

The email she sent back was hopeful, but I'm still a little wary:
If you have the opportunity to obtain short term disability, I would suggest you take it.  Yes, many mothers use it for maternity leave and I see no reason why it would not be applicable to you!   Call if you would like to discuss.
So I emailed her this:
Great thanks! When would be a good time to call? For some reason I was under the impression that it applied for maternity leave because the mother goes through something physical (body recovering), but that it didn't apply just for care of children (like adoption). Also wasn't sure if it would be considered pre-existing.

While I'm waiting for our discussion (is it possible she hasn't been asked this before?), I wanted to check in with you guys. For those of you that have used adoption or surrogacy, what was your experience? How does pre-existing conditions fit into all of this? For the ladies out there - did it change if you induced lactation? For the gay men out there: did you get to use short term disability?

Curious minds want to know. (Plus there really does seem to be very little info on it out there - at least if you can't sift through hours and hours of forum stuff that doesn't apply to you.)

Thanks in advance my peoples of the interwebz!

12 comments:

  1. I did not get to use STD. I work for a Fortune 500 company and was even denied time off after our babies were born. I fought them tooth and nail on this - threatened a lawsuit and contacted the department of labor as this is in clear violation of the FMLA law. Ultimately we got 3 months off for bonding time under FMLA but it wasn't easy. Good luck!

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    1. Yea, mine is a Fortune 500 company as well. And I know I don't even qualify for FMLA since I won't have worked there for a year. Sigh.

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  2. I live in NY and working in NY/NJ and our short term disability policy does not cover adoption or surrogacy. After speaking to our attorney it fall into the " gray" area just like deducting medical care for your surrogate from your taxes - since your not pregnant you can't deduct treatment and you don't Qualify for Std in NY/NJ.

    I will get paid maternity leave and my insurance will be paid for at a prorated amount

    I am so glad to hear the babies are healthy and doing well.

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    1. That's what I was thinking as well. We are in the south, and these things tend to fall on the side of companies here.

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  3. From what I have seen with other IPs over the years, they weren't allowed to use STD.. Only the surros were allowed (My SIL used it and we also got an AFLAC policy for her to help cover costs not covered by insurance, it was a lifesaver!)

    Wowza on the attorney costs! I was shocked when I was researching surrogacy lawyers at how vast the difference is in pricing state to state and even lawyer to lawyer in the same state! In GA, I paid 2500 for contract (if a successful pg had been achieved, it would have been $2500 more for pre-birth orders) in FL I was quoted $5550 for contract and pre-birth order and in TX, I ultimately paid $3500 for contract and pre-birth order and an additional $274 in filing fees..

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    1. Oh wow. Do you remember the lawyer you looked at in GA? We paid around 2500 for the pre-birth contract, but were told by 2 attorney's (at the time of the pre-birth contract) that the pre-birth orders would be 4-5k.

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    2. babydreams2011 AT gmail DOT com, email me, I can't find one for you!

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    3. Sent you an email!!!! I was just going to look for yours to ask you about some other stuff too!

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  4. STD is for receiving partial pay while your doctors deems you unable to work. Typically this is 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery or 8 weeks after a c-section. Your insurance will want a statement from your doctor certifying your short term disability. Since you won't have been through either the delivery or c-section, you won't be paid from insurance. Also typical: FMLA is the 12 weeks you are granted of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child (or to care for a family member) and STD is payment you receive during that time, not before or after or in addition somehow. FMLA is only required by law to be provided for employees of 1+ years and by employers of more that 50 workers.

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    1. I thought was STD you can take it for any extenuated unpaid leave, but if you qualify for FMLA (which I don't) then people take it together so they have an income. The FMLA would protect you legally from getting fired, the STD wouldn't. Is this incorrect?
      At least that is my understanding since STD can happen for any number of reasons. STD pays out for 180 days, which is far past the FMLA, so it doesn't make sense that you could only use STD with FMLA. Especially since many disabilities happen completely unrelated to FMLA.

      Random thoughts running through my brain.

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    2. Everything you said is correct and does not conflict with what I said. People (employees who qualify, that is) who have given birth to a baby are protected from getting fired for 12 weeks of unpaid leave. During that time, they are also often covered by Short-Term-Disability Insurance which provides them (usually partial) pay for a short term. As I mentioned above, this is usually 6 or 8 weeks for childbirth. (For other 'injuries' or disabled conditions, the length of time you would receive payment on short-term or long-term disability is determined by your doctor and insurance company.) STD has nothing to do with protecting you from getting fired, it is insurance just like medical insurance. It provides you money while you are unable to work for some medical condition. You cannot take it for "any extenuated unpaid leave" as you say - it has to be for a leave in which a doctor said you are unable to work. The conditions are defined by your insurance company. You STD probably does pay out for UP TO 180 days.. that length of time very rarely has anything to do with childbirth. That might be in the case of someone going through cancer treatment or a severe car accident. At 180 days, you would switch to long-term disability coverage.

      That said, some employers are more generous than others and explicitly cover adoptive parents or approve leave for newer employees. It doesn't hurt to ask.

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