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Other Forms of Support for Workers with Disabilities

Other sources of support for workers with disabilities include sick leave, short-term and long-term disability benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Medicare. These programs are not limited to injuries or illnesses caused on the job. However, some of these programs are not available to workers receiving workers’ compensation benefits and some programs reduce benefits for workers receiving workers’ compensation. In addition, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid provide cash and medical assistance to disabled individuals who have low incomes.

Three types of benefits for short-term disability are available to at least some workers: sick leave, state-mandated disability insurance, and employer-provided disability insurance.

Sick leave is a common form of wage replacement for short-term absences from work due to illness or injury. State laws require employers to provide short to medium-term disability insurance in five states: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Benefits typically replace about half of the worker’s prior earnings. Some private employers offer short-term disability insurance to their workers. Both employers and employees may be required to contribute to the cost of the short-term disability insurance. Long-term disability insurance that is financed, at least in part, by employers, covers about 33 percent of private sector employees. Such coverage is most common among relatively high-paying management, professional, and related occupations.

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