Short Term Disability: What is a Total Disability?

When looking for a short-term disability plan, some of the terms mentioned may be confusing and seem contradictory. One of the terms that may confuse people is total disability, and it may seem hard to distinguish from what a partial disability is when that term is also mentioned. While we’ve already covered what a partial disability is in another post, here we will explore what is meant by the term total disability.

In law, the term total disability means that a disability is severe enough to prevent a person from engaging in “gainful” work. Where as a partial disability means that a disability hinders a person from performing some of the duties of a job, total disability prevents a person from doing enough duties that they would not be able to be or stay employed.

Total disabilities are separated into two types: permanent and temporary.

What is a Permanent Total Disability?

A permanent total disability is any disability that is indefinite and affecting a person enough that the condition prevents the insured person from returning to “gainful” employment. These types of disabilities will not heal over time and will be chronic. When a person is eligible for permanent total disability benefits, they may be able to receive these for the rest of their life.

What is a Temporary Total Disability?

An insured person may seek temporary total disability benefits when they are only unable to return to work for a short period of time. The disability is still enough to prevent the insured from returning to their job, but it will not last permanently. Examples of this might be muscle sprains or broken bones that will heal over time. Once the insured is physically recovered, the benefits will usually cease.


Disclaimer: This information does not constitute financial advice. For specific information for short-term disability policy plans and features, consult your local insurance agent.

Short Term Disability: What Is a Benefit Period?

Short-term disability insurance is meant to protect your income so you do not have to worry about how you will be able to pay for ongoing personal expenses while you are unable to work. This type of coverage is part of a complete financial plan to protect a person’s income and assets. There are many features of short-term disability, some of which may be confusing to people unfamiliar with insurance concepts and terms. One of the features is the benefit period.

We’d like to clear up any confusion on the topic to create transparency.

The benefit period can be defined as the beginning of the time that an insured person is eligible to begin receiving benefits from a disability claim to the time that the benefits from the policy ends. For example, if the benefit period is two years, income from the policy will be received for two years.

Essentially, the benefit period is the amount of time the policy pays the insured after a claim. The benefit period begins immediately after the elimination period is satisfied and the amount of benefits received is derived from other features in the plan.

This feature is the most important one to many people when picking a disability plan as it can determine how long the insured person can rely on income from the policy before they will have to find income from a different source, many times from a coupled long-term disability insurance plan if the disability lasts past the benefit period of the short-term plan.

How Long Do Benefit Periods Normally Last?

Short-term disability benefit periods generally last for a maximum of two years. However, the potential insured can choose from a range of benefit period options, the shortest ones maybe lasting only a few months.

Disclaimer: This information does not constitute financial advice. For specific information for short-term disability policy plans and features, consult your local insurance agent.