No short term disability? Are you kidding me?
May 13, 2008 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Asking for future-MIL: She works a part-time (25-30hrs/wk) job in Florida, diagnosed with breast cancer, had to undergo surgery and needed time off work, but she was under the impression that she had short term disability, had mastectomy and must be off work for six weeks, tries to file for short term disability and come to find out, no short term disability. What can she do?

She is willing to fill out any form, or go down any avenue. I've called the Unemployment Office, to no avail, and I'm running into a brick wall looking all over the internet for her. I'm in Ohio, she's in Florida, and not computer savvy, so if at all possible, paper forms I could help her fill out via phone/snail mail. I've looked on all morning and I can't quite figure out if she qualifies for disability, how to file for it, anything!

I already tried suggesting that she file for unemployment, but she can't, since she is going to be returning to work, and her employer will not temporarily lay her off so she can collect unemployment.

She never filled out FMLA paperwork, but her job is "holding" the position for her. She has been working there for about six years.

What can we do? She isn't looking for 100% of her income, but anything would help, especially as her medical bills pile up.
posted by banannafish to Work & Money (7 answers total)
I'm afraid she is out of luck with her employer. In Florida short-term disability insurance is obtained through a private provider. She has missed the boat on this, unfortunately. When she has the opportunity she can add this to her benefit package for future illness or injury, heaven forbid.

The state of Florida does not participate in a disability insurance program. Some states do.

Social security disability insurance (SSDI) requires a person to be disabled for at least one year.

If she still has insurance benefits while she is recovering at home, I'd take that as a plus. It sounds frustrating that she won't have any other compensation, but from what I know, she is out of luck. Hopefully I am wrong.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2008

From where did she get the impression that she has short term disability insurance? Does she think that she has it through her job or through some public program?

I am not familiar with Florida, but there are no public programs that would automatically help someone like that (short term, non-permanent disability, otherwise employable) where I am from.

If she thinks that she has disability insurance through her employer, she should ask her benefits department (or maybe HR) about it. However, if she has not already been sent the policies and agreed to have that insurance, she may not actually have it. In my experience, it is relatively rare to get short term disability insurance through part time jobs.

Good luck to your future MIL.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 8:47 AM on May 13, 2008

If Florida does not have "state disability insurance" (and it seems as though they don't -- I didn't see any on the internet and the UI office would have told you), then the next avenue would be if she has any private disability insurance through her work or through her own private policy. If there's no policy there, then it's time to start calling up relatives for $.

It's amazing to me that a state as large and prosperous as Florida does not have state disability insurance, but it seems to be the case.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:52 AM on May 13, 2008

Here are the states that offer state-funded SDI programs: California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Hawaii and New York.

Everybody else has to add this option to their insurance provided through their employer or obtain a SDI policy if one is self-employed.

Again, good luck to her.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:53 AM on May 13, 2008

There are some programs out there that might be able to provide financial assistance, but they are need-based and the household income (is there a FIL or Step-FIL who is the main wage-earner?) would be combined to assess the need.

What part of Florida does she live in? I did some work with the public assistance agencies in one region; my focus was workforce development, so I am not terribly well-versed in the financial assistance programs offered, but if she lives in one of the counties I worked in, I can probably refer you someone who can help advise you.
posted by necessitas at 9:03 AM on May 13, 2008

I thought of something your future MIL may want to investigate. She could contact her local American Cancer Society chapter. I had a friend with breast cancer. The ACS paid for a couple months of her rent.
posted by LoriFLA at 9:07 AM on May 13, 2008

Response by poster: She was under the impression she had short term disability through her job (through Cigna) and, according to her, the HR person told her that she would be, "Okay" to leave, which I assume she (Future MIL) took as being covered? I'm not sure, I asked her about it, but she was just getting more and more frustrated, so I dropped it and made a mental note to call her HR person after she returns to work.

Thanks for the help so far. I've placed a call to the Susan G. Komen foundation in her area to see if they had any information/assistance.
posted by banannafish at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2008

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