What Is the Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Disability Insurance?

Short-term disability insurance (STD)

STD insurance is insurance that pays you a portion of your income for a short period of time after you run out of sick leave.

Depending on your plan, STD will typically pay you after a waiting period (also referred to as the elimination period in contracts). This period of time is usually 1-7 calendar days from the date of illness or injury.

STD benefits are paid weekly and the duration is typically between 13-26 weeks. STD coverage does not typically cover work-related injuries.  

Some common life events that are usually covered by STD:

  • A disabling injury
  • Prolonged sickness
  • The birth of a child

Long-term disability insurance (LTD)

LTD insurance is insurance that begins once your STD benefits and employer-granted sick leave has been used up. There is usually a 90 or 180-day waiting period, which can be covered by STD if you have a policy in place.

The duration of the benefit varies, but it usually provides coverage until the employee returns to work, is no longer disabled, or reaches Social Security retirement age.

Some common life events that are usually covered by LTD:

  • Musculoskeletal/connective tissue disorders (back pain, osteoarthritis)
  • Cancer
  • Accidental Injuries
  • Cardiovascular/circulatory disorders (heart attack, coronary artery disease)
  • Mental disorder

This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal, benefits, or HR advice. Benefits and insurance regulations may change over time and may vary by location and employer size. So, please consult a licensed broker or appropriately certified expert for advice specific to your business’s benefits options.