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Voluntary Disability Insurance

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Spotlight on: Voluntary Disability

When you take care of your people, they take care of your business.

An injury or illness will force one in five U.S. employees to miss work for at least a year before turning age 65. That’s why it may be wise to offer voluntary disability insurance. 

Designed to help to replace a portion of your income should you or an employee fall ill or become disabled, voluntary short-term disability insurance can be a great way to give your people peace of mind.

Morale. Retention. A commitment to their family and their future. Short-term disability insurance can help show your employees that you’ve got their back.

Why Businesses Choose Higginbotham

No matter the employee benefits you’re exploring, our approach to finding solutions is more individual and less institutional. 

We start with listening and end with custom solutions for your situation.

Employee-owned and customer inspired, we’re here to answer your questions and help educate you on your options.

By understanding your priorities, eliminating inefficiencies and committing to transparency, we’re a place that leads with values so value leads. 

To learn more about how our values-based approach drives value for you and your employees, click here. 

Or visit our Insights page to learn more about voluntary disability insurance.

Talk to a disability insurance specialist.

Learn how our values-based approach drives values for your business and your people. 

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Employee Questions, Your Answers

Your team may have questions about disability insurance. Here’s a primer to give you the information they need. 

Voluntary Short-Term Disability Essentials (STD)

Unlike group disability coverage where an employer covers part of the premium cost for all eligible employees, the cost of voluntary short-term disability insurance (STD) is paid for entirely by the employees. This gives them the peace of mind that should they get sick, their living expenses will be covered while they’re unable to work. 

Because health insurance doesn’t cover living expenses like rent and utilities, STD can help bridge the gap created by a serious injury or disability that affects your ability to work.

In many cases, STD benefits go into effect as soon as one week after you’ve left work and can help cover income for up to six months or longer.

Voluntary Long-Term Disability Essentials (LTD)

Designed to ease the challenges faced by people who are unable to work for an extended period, voluntary long-term disability (LTD) can help replace part of an employee’s income in the aftermath of a disabling injury or sickness.

Voluntary LTD insurance picks up where STD leaves off, going into effect after employees have been out of work for 90 days, 180 days or more and helping replace income until they reach the age of 65 or Social Security Normal Retirement Age (SSNRA).

Which conditions qualify for short-term disability benefits?

To be eligible for short-term disability benefit payments after suffering an injury or sickness, an employee needs to have current coverage in force, meet the exclusion limit for pre-existing health conditions, meet time-off work requirements and satisfy the short-term disability definition outlined in the policy documents.

The employee should then be eligible for benefit payments to help cover expenses throughout recovery.

In many cases, conditions like debilitating stress and work-induced anxiety are also eligible for coverage. 

However, coverage for most, if not all symptoms and ailments require a specific diagnosis from a doctor confirming that the condition prevents the employee from working.

Qualifying Conditions for Short-Term Disability Benefits

Some qualifying conditions typically eligible for short-term disability benefit payments include:


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Digestive System Issues

Recovery from Surgery

Maternity Leave

Extended Illness

Joint Disorders

Herniated Disk

Runner’s Knee

Tennis Elbow

Broken Bone





What are the qualifying conditions for long-term disability?

There are several prerequisites an enrolled employee must satisfy to qualify for long-term disability payments. 

First, the employee needs to have current coverage in force, be classified as a full-time employee prior to the injury or illness, be unable to perform the duties of the occupation, be off the employer’s payroll, verify no pre-existing conditions and fulfill the LTD elimination or waiting period in the policy documents. 

Assuming these prerequisites are satisfied, the employee should be eligible for long-term disability benefit payments.

While LTD benefits are typically only available to people who are unable to work at all, some long-term disability policies allow for partial disability. Though most LTD policies exclude people still on their employer payroll, these policies may allow employees to receive partial disability benefits after they’re forced to work part-time due to a qualifying condition.

Qualifying Conditions for Long-Term Disability Benefits

Some conditions that can be eligible for short-term disability claims include:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

RSD/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Peripheral Neuropathy

Back Pain/Disorders

Sjogren’s Syndrome

Parkinson’s disease

Meniere’s Disease

Epstein-Barr Virus


Eye Disorders

Heart Disease




Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Vestibular Dysfunction

Macular Degeneration

Cerebral Atrophy

Bipolar Disorder

Crohn’s Disease

Loss of Hearing

Knee Disorders








Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Non-Epileptic Seizures


Rheumatoid Arthritis

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Speech disorders

Herniated Disc(s)

Kidney Disease

Neck Disorders

Spinal Stenosis

Brain Injuries

Lyme Disease

Lung Disease


Chronic Pain

Pre-existing conditions are usually not eligible for a claim if the condition causes the disability during the pre-existing conditions exclusion period. Even if an employee has one of or more of the conditions on this list, certain other stipulations must be met to qualify for LTD benefits. 

Will my insurance provider make me file for Social Security Disability?

Almost every insurance carrier requires long-term disability beneficiaries to file for Social Security benefits to supplement monthly LTD payments. Due in part to this shared interest between the carrier and the insured, some carriers are willing to hire a disability attorney on an employee’s behalf to help with the Social Security case.

In states requiring workers’ compensation by law, an insurance carrier may require injured LTD claimants to file for those benefits. Like Social Security payments, any workers’ compensation benefits awarded are used to offset long-term disability payments.

While long-term disability can be complicated, the employee benefits specialists at Higginbotham are here to help.

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Not sure where to start? Talk to someone who wants to listen.

Give us a call today to learn more about what a disability insurance plan from Higginbotham can do for your business.

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