What are State Disability Benefits?

M. Lupica

State disability benefits are a form of public insurance that protects employees from losing all of their income should they get injured and cannot work. Generally, the benefits are paid through a government organization that determines the eligibility requirements for the program. Programs such as these are typically funded through payroll taxes paid to the government by private employers. The length of time in which someone may receive state disability benefits will vary based on the situation and the jurisdiction, but payments will typically last as long as the applicant will not be able to work.

State disability benefits may be offered to people who receive injuries that prevent them from working and receiving wages.
State disability benefits may be offered to people who receive injuries that prevent them from working and receiving wages.

State disability benefits are typically offered to any employee who collects a regular salary, though there are some exceptions. Government workers are generally not offered state disability benefits as their employment typically provides disability benefits independent of the one generally offered by the state. Additionally, most jurisdictions do not offer such benefits to non-profit employees or those who work for a religious organization, as those organizations are usually exempt from paying payroll taxes.

The standard that determines the awarding of state disability benefits usually only requires that applicants be genuinely unable to work because of injury or sickness. Some jurisdictions provide benefits for women who cannot work due to pregnancy as well. Many jurisdictions have a separate accommodation for pregnant women under maternity leave statutes, however.

Some jurisdictions offer disability benefits for a person who has to care for a sick or injured family member. There are typically strict requirements that the applicant must meet in order to qualify for benefits under these circumstances, however. For example, most require that the family member be a spouse, parent, or child of the applicant. Additionally, such a situation rarely allows for as long of a benefit period as for a person who is unable to work.

Payments made as state disability benefits are usually a certain percentage of the applicant’s income prior to his or her disability. Though actual percentages vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it is typical that the payments will amount to roughly half the salary of the applicant. These payments will usually last as long as the medical professional who diagnoses the problem determines is a reasonable length of time for recovery. However, there is always a limit to the amount of time an applicant may claim state disability benefits. Payments will cease after this period even if the applicant remains unable to work.

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