Do I Need a Lawyer for Short-Term Disability? Staff Profile Picture
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Each year in the United States, nearly 5.6% of Americans in the workforce will experience a form of short-term disability that keeps them out of work for around six months or less. The most common reasons for someone to file for short-term disability are pregnancies and musculoskeletal disorders that affect the person’s back and spine, hips, knees, and shoulders, among others. Successfully filing a short-term disability claim can be a challenging process at times, as insurance companies will do their best to deny your claim and reject your benefits. In this article, we will discuss the steps you need to follow to file your short-term disability claim properly and why you may need to seek legal representation to help you ensure your claim goes through!

How to File a Short-Term Disability Claim

Filing a short-term disability claim (STD claim) is a relatively simple process, but it requires great attention to detail and honesty. For your claim to be approved, you need to be thorough when filling out the information and completely understand the short-term insurance policy that you carry, or if your employer provides it, their coverage policy. In this section, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to file your short-term disability claim and start the process of receiving your benefits.

Understanding short-term disability

Before you start the process of filing your claim, you have to fully understand what it is and whether or not you qualify. Short-term disability benefits typically only cover temporary illnesses or injuries that prevent you from working for a limited amount of time, generally between a few weeks to a couple of months. The requirements for eligibility and benefits depend on the state you live in, your employer, and your insurance provider. 

Review your insurance policy

Review your (or your employer’s) short-term disability insurance policy carefully. Understand the different terms, conditions, and details about the coverage. The policy should clearly outline the waiting period you have to file your claim, the duration length of the benefits, and the required documents you must have to complete your claim. 

Inform your employer

You need to make sure that you inform your employer of your intent to file for short-term disability as soon as possible. Once you let them know, they should provide you with the necessary forms to get the process started. Your employer might also have a specific process or deadline for filing your claim, so don’t wait. Be thorough with your information!

Complete and submit your claim forms

Once you’ve received your forms, make sure you fill them out thoroughly with your personal information, details about your disability or injuries, and any medical documentation that is required. You may need medical records, diagnoses, treatment plans, and a prognosis from your healthcare provider to ensure the nature of your disability and how it impacts your ability to work. Double-check all the information to be sure there are no delays or that your claim doesn’t get denied. Make and keep copies of everything you submit. 

Do I Need an Attorney for a Short-Term Disability Claim?

While legal representation is not always required for short-term disability claims, having legal representation can help ensure that the process goes smoothly and you get your benefits without any issues. Insurance companies can make you go through a ton of legal loops and will make any attempts they can to deny your claim at the slightest sign of opportunity, and lawyers can provide expertise and fight for you to make sure your case goes through. In this section, we’ll break down the biggest reasons why you should hire an attorney when you file your short-term disability claim or if it gets denied.

Complexities of the claim process

Short-term disability claims involve very complex paperwork, strict timelines, and medical documents that can be difficult to obtain. Insurance policies typically contain legal jargon that can be hard to interpret and understand. Experienced attorneys can take your mind off having to worry about both the injury or illness and the headache of reading through the legal talk. The attorney can make sure all necessary information is gathered on time and correctly submitted. They can be your guide through the process and help you understand specific terms in the policy and various conditions. Not only does this help you increase your chances of a successful claim, but it can help you focus on getting healthy again.

Experience dealing with claims

If your claim gets denied, the appeals process can be grueling. An attorney is crucial for building a strong case for appeal. Attorneys have the knowledge to gather relevant evidence properly, present a persuasive argument, and navigate the entire process effectively. Doing your due diligence and finding a lawyer who has experience handling these types of claims can significantly improve your chances of winning the appeal and getting the benefits you rightly deserve. An attorney will be able to identify the specific reason your claim was denied, address those issues, and work hard to create a strong appeal. They would let you know that you’re not alone in this process and that you have support, which is so valuable at a time when you are potentially emotionally and physically distressed.

Protection from unfair practices

Suffering an injury at work or dealing with an illness that has kept you out of work for an extended amount of time is hard enough. Unfortunately, insurance companies might use certain tactics to delay or deny short-term claims that are valid. These tactics include things like unnecessary delays in processing, incorrect interpretations of language in the policy, or participating in bad faith practices where the insurance company acts dishonestly or unfairly. Attorneys can hold the insurance companies accountable for these practices, acting as a shield on your behalf. You have rights, and when an insurance company acts in bad faith, they deserve to pay for their actions. An attorney can spot red flags and take the necessary action to make sure that you are protected.


Being out of work due to a physical injury or illness is stressful enough. Having to worry about having your claim approved is an additional weight to carry. If you are looking to file a short-term disability claim but aren’t sure where to start the process, this section will provide valuable resources that you can use to help prepare your claim. 

U.S. Department of Labor

The United States Department of Labor website has information on laws related to medical and disability leave for employees. The page, located here, has information pertaining to the different laws for employees using short-term disability and medical leave, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You will also find additional resources for finding specific job accommodations, extensive information on both laws and resources to get connected with legal representation to help you with your short-term disability claim.

If you’re in the process of filing a short-term disability claim and want to find legal representation, has an online directory of experienced disability claim attorneys that you can access for free. You can find the right lawyer to help you with your case and make sure that you receive the benefits you deserve. You can find their specialized online attorney directory on their website, located here

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