Skip to content

Best Short-Term Disability Insurance Companies

Fill Coverage Gaps and Safeguard Your Income

We recommend the best products through an independent review process, and advertisers do not influence our picks. We may receive compensation if you visit partners we recommend. Read our advertiser disclosure for more info.

Short-term disability insurance pays part of your income if you can't earn a living due to an accident or illness that didn't happen at work. If you are hurt on the job, workers' compensation should pay your medical bills and also provide income. If you have an illness such as cancer or heart disease or are injured outside of work, short-term disability insurance can often replace up to 70% of your base pay and possibly more for a specified period of time.

Workers have choices between short-term coverage they can get through their job and a private policy. A handful of states mandate that most employers provide coverage for full-time workers. States that require it are New York, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. If you don't live in one of these states, it's smart to shop around for disability coverage.

We looked at nearly two dozen providers based on policies, pricing, features, and third-party ratings to select the best ones. 

The 5 Best Short-Term Disability Insurance Companies of 2022

Best Overall : Northwestern Mutual


Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual

Pros
  • Financially stable provider with a long history

  • Variety of policy price levels

  • Good customer satisfaction

  • Dividends

Cons
  • Must speak with an agent to get a quote

  • Provides limited policy and premium information online

Why We Chose It

Northwestern Mutual has high third-party ratings and has been operating for a long time. It provides short-term disability coverage, life insurance, and more. Rated A++ (Superior)—the highest Financial Strength Rating from AM Best—Northwestern Mutual has been around since 1859.

Northwestern Mutual's "Best Overall" ranking derives from how long it's been around, how strong it is financially, and what options it has to cover policyholders. These factors earned it our top spot for the best short-term disability insurance for people and companies alike. The company offers policies at a few price points. Each offers its own set of options, benefits, and coverage levels. For a lower price, you can get a policy with benefits that won't change over time.

Because it's a mutual company (meaning that policyholders own the company, rather than investors), insured people may also receive money back in the form of dividends, based on their policies. The company retains 97% of its clients from year to year. This is one measure that shows how happy people are with its service.

Northwestern Mutual does not give disability insurance quotes online. Instead, the company requires that potential clients connect with an agent who can provide the options available for short-term disability.

Runner-Up, Best Overall : Ameritas Life Insurance


Ameritas Life Insurance

Ameritas Life Insurance

Pros
  • Wide variety of policies and riders

  • Customizable policies

Cons
  • Must speak to agent for a quote

Why We Chose It

In business since 1887 and rated A (Excellent) for financial strength by AM Best, Ameritas is trusted because of its longevity and stability. These factors, coupled with its wide variety of policies and riders, are what earned it second place among the short-term disability companies we looked at.

Ameritas Life Insurance offers policies you can tailor to your needs. The riders available include cost-of-living raises, bumps in pay based on your income, and a catastrophic disability rider to help pay for living costs if you can't care for yourself. The company also offers you the choice of an "own occupation" disability standard among other options. This option makes it easier to make a claim as you can claim disability if you can work in your field even if you could work other jobs.

Features of this policy include health-care cost reimbursement, shorter elimination times for newly insured members in good health, and COBRA payment reimbursement if you no longer are covered for health care due to losing your job as a result of being hurt or sick.

The company's DInamic Fundamental policy provides insurance for workers who work at least 30 hours a week in low-risk jobs. You must contact an agent for a quote.

Most Affordable : Aflac


Aflac

Aflac

Pros
  • Lower-cost plans

  • Value rider offers payouts every five years

  • Easy online claims process

Cons
  • Only available through worksite payroll deduction

Why We Chose It

Aflac has one of the lowest-cost, short-term plans if you become sick or hurt and can't work. Weekly costs are as low as $8.17. Newer to the scene than some short-term providers, Aflac was founded in 1955. It holds an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best and shows strong long-term fiscal stability. 

Individuals must be able to work for at least six weeks to make a claim. Policies are guaranteed renewable up to age 75. The value rider adds $1,000 in payouts for every five years in a row that the policy is in force. Aflac short-term disability policies are only available through employer payroll deduction, however.

Aflac also makes it easy to process claims online and getting paid is fast. This makes Aflac both low-cost and simple to use. These factors earned it our ranking for most affordable short-term disability insurer.

Best Service : MassMutual


MassMutual

MassMutual

Pros
  • Focus on customer service

  • Long-running business that's financially sound

  • Provides rider that reflects income increases

Cons
  • No online quotes

  • Obtaining a policy may require a medical exam

Why We Chose It

MassMutual has stellar customer service. The firm has earned a 4.1-star review average at Consumer Affairs, and many clients say that making claims is hassle-free and that premiums are low-cost. In our review, MassMutual has been chosen as having the best service among short-term disability insurance competitors.

MassMutual has an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best, its highest rating, and has been in business since 1851. Both the company's longevity and its superior financial strength make it a very reputable and secure insurer.

The company offers income policies that cover you if you are sick or hurt and can't work. You can also add a rider so that your coverage increases with your income. You can use the disability income calculator on the website to figure out how large a policy you need. But a medical exam may be required to get a policy. While you can't get a quote online, the robust and useful website can help you explore your options before you speak to an agent.

Best for Coverage Options : Mutual of Omaha


Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

Pros
  • Flexible and varied policies

  • Range of benefit payouts and terms

  • Reputable, long-running company

Cons
  • Must speak to an agent to get a quote

  • Inflation protection option isn't as high as some competitors'

Why We Chose It

Mutual of Omaha has been operating since 1909. The company is rated A+ (Superior) by AM Best for financial strength. This is the company's second-highest ratings, and indicates that Mutual of Omaha is in a superior position to honor ongoing insurance claims.

Mutual of Omaha offers a "Mutual Income Solutions" policy for short- or longer-term income replacement. It can start as soon as 30 days after a disabling event, and pay up to $20,000 per month in benefits, depending on your plan and premium. There are many options for your benefit period length: 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years as well as benefits until age 65, 67, or 70. The coverage includes several built-in benefits, including a premium waiver while disabled after your elimination period ends or 90 days and waiver of the elimination period if you suffer a new disability within 30 days or a recurring disability in six months.

There are several riders you can add, including residual disability coverage, mental or nervous and substance abuse extension, return of premium as well as "own occupation" coverage, if you can't return to your original profession because of your disability. There's also a free option to automatically increase your monthly benefit by 4% each year for inflation protection.

You'll need to contact a Mutual of Omaha agent for a custom quote, as the company does not offer them online.

What Is Short-Term Disability Insurance?

Short-term disability will pay part of your income if you can't work either in your own career or any job, depending on the policy you choose. People may buy short-term disability if they aren't covered through their job and don't have savings they can tap if they can't work.

In some cases, short-term disability can be a good thing for people who earn a lot of money and would rather not deplete their own funds if they can't work for a short time.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Disability Insurance

Short-term disability insurance generally kicks in once two weeks have passed after you've fallen ill or become injured. It lasts for up to six months. If that time passes and you still can't work, long-term disability insurance may cover you, if you have it. This coverage doesn't kick in until short-term benefits run out. Long-term disability coverage can provide people with money to replace their incomes for spans of time lasting many years.

What Does Short-Term Disability Insurance Include?

While short-term disability can replace part of your income for a while, in most cases, that time doesn't start the same day that you file a claim. Instead, most insurers require a waiting period, called an elimination period, between when you file a claim and when you'll receive income. Most short-term policies have an elimination period of two weeks, although some companies may have no elimination period for some claims.

Along with this upfront period, most short-term benefits last for three to six months, and then run out. But some companies will cover you for up to a year on a short term policy. Some policies may also include features to help pay for medical expenses. For example, you may be able to add a rider that would pay a lump sum if you become very ill with a disease such as cancer. You may also be able to choose an own-occupation policy, which allows you to file a claim if you can't work in your current career.

What Does Short-Term Disability Insurance Exclude?

Along with elimination periods and a limited time span to receive benefits, short-term disability may exclude getting hurt in the workplace. That's because state workers' compensation should cover these events. Some policies may also not cover:

  • Self-harm
  • Pre-existing issues
  • Time off to care for a child
  • Being pregnant
  • Having a baby

What Are the Common Costs of Short-Term Disability?

Some companies offer short-term disability starting as low as $8.17 per week. The state you live in, your age, your health, and your career can dictate how much your premiums will be. Your levels of coverage and added riders also affect costs. Whether your short-term disability benefits are taxed depends on who pays the premiums: you or who you work for.

Is Short-Term Disability Insurance Worth It?

For many people, getting paid even if they can't work because they are hurt or sick is worth it. The Council for Disability Awareness says that 25% of all people age 20 and older can expect to need time off work for being sick or hurt for up to a year by the time they reach retirement age.

If you don't have savings set aside for unplanned events, being covered protects your income if you're too sick or hurt to work. But instead of paying for insurance, you could choose to set aside money in case you get hurt and can't work. But you'd have to set aside quite a bit of money each month to match what you could get for as little as just over $32 per month in policy payments.

How We Chose the Best Short-Term Disability Insurance Companies

We looked at more than 20 companies to find the best short-term disability insurers in the areas that matter. We looked at each one based on product options, cost, riders, and offers, as well as ratings for fiscal strength and client service.

Related Articles