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Understanding Group Disability Insurance: Short-Term vs. Long-Term

June 10, 2024
Bay Area Health Insurance
Bay Area Health Insurance
Bay Area Health Insurance

Disability insurance is a crucial part of financial planning, providing a safety net in case an illness or injury prevents you from working. For many employees, group disability insurance offered through their employer is an accessible and affordable option. Understanding the differences between short-term and long-term group disability insurance is essential to making informed decisions about coverage.

Short-Term Disability Insurance
Short-term disability insurance (STD) typically covers a portion of your salary for a limited period, usually between three to six months. This type of insurance is designed to bridge the gap during temporary disabilities that prevent you from working, such as recovery from surgery, a serious illness, or maternity leave.

Key Features

  • Waiting Period: STD policies often have a short waiting period, usually a week or less, before benefits begin.
  • Benefit Duration: Benefits are paid for a short duration, typically up to six months.
  • Coverage Amount: Generally, STD covers about 60-70% of your salary, though this can vary.


  • Quick Financial Relief: Provides immediate financial support during a temporary disability.
  • Employer-Provided: Often offered as a part of employee benefits, sometimes at no additional cost to the employee.


  • Limited Duration: Only covers disabilities for a short period.
  • Income Gap: May not fully replace your income.

Long-Term Disability Insurance

Long-term disability insurance (LTD), on the other hand, is designed to provide financial support for more extended periods, potentially until retirement age if the disability is permanent. This type of insurance kicks in after short-term disability benefits are exhausted.

Key Features

  • Waiting Period: LTD policies usually have a longer waiting period, often 90 days or more.
  • Benefit Duration: Benefits can last several years, up to a certain age (like 65), or even for life.
  • Coverage Amount: Typically covers around 50-60% of your salary, though higher coverage options might be available.


  • Extended Support: Provides long-term financial stability if you’re unable to return to work.
  • Peace of Mind: Offers reassurance that you’ll have ongoing support if faced with a severe, lasting disability.


  • Longer Waiting Period: You may need to rely on savings or other benefits during the waiting period.
  • Cost: Premiums can be higher than short-term policies, though they are often employer-subsidized.

Both short-term and long-term group disability insurance play essential roles in protecting your financial future. Short-term disability insurance offers quick, temporary support, while long-term disability insurance provides more extended coverage for serious and lasting conditions.

Evaluating employee needs and understanding the specifics of each type can help you provide comprehensive protection. When employers offer both, enrolling in both can help employees cover all bases and safeguard income against various disability scenarios.

If you’re currently weighing your options, we can help. Call our benefits specialists at Bay Area Health Insurance so we can guide you as you put together a comprehensive and valuable employee benefits package.


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