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Know your benefits
Short-term disability plan
December 4, 2014 New York Teacher issue
In-service UFT members have the protection of a short-term disability plan that can provide valuable income when personal illness renders them temporarily unable to work. (This benefit does not provide coverage for injuries-in-the-line-of-duty or no-fault claims, which provide their own set of benefits.)
Teachers and other pedagogues approved for this benefit receive $475 a week, up to a maximum of 52 weeks, while paraprofessionals and other groups in the same salary range receive $375 per week up to a maximum of 52 weeks.
To qualify for the disability benefit, members must have exhausted their sick bank (Cumulative Absence Reserve, or CAR) and have been removed from the Department of Education payroll. After a member has used up his or her CAR (and any borrowed sick days), an unpaid waiting period of 28 consecutive calendar days for pedagogues and 14 consecutive calendar days for nonpedagogues and paraprofessionals must be satisfied before the disability benefit payment can begin.
The difference in the length of the waiting period takes into account the paid “DOE grace period” for which only eligible pedagogues can apply; it provides approximately two weeks of prorated salary. A member must be on an authorized leave of absence without pay under a Restoration of Health leave or a Family and Medical Leave Act leave for Health Restoration.
When you become temporarily disabled and have exhausted your CAR, you must file (through your school’s payroll secretary) for a leave of absence without pay, either for a Restoration of Health leave or for a Family and Medical Leave Act leave. Contact HR Connect at the DOE at 1-718-935-4000 for specific leave filing instructions.
To begin the process of applying for disability benefits, members should call the UFT Welfare Fund Disability Unit at 1-212-539-0500 to request a disability claim form (DBL1 Initial Application). You will need to attach a copy of the DOE’s approval of your medical leave to the completed claim form.
Upon receipt of your claim form, the Welfare Fund will assign you a disability representative, who can answer any questions you might have. Your application will be reviewed by the Welfare Fund’s medical adviser who will determine if you are disabled and, if so, the length of the disability period.
Benefit payments will begin after the medical adviser approves your claim and the Welfare Fund has received all required information and documentation.
Benefits for maternity-related disability are provided for a maximum of six weeks after normal deliveries and eight weeks after Caesarean sections. These are considered routine pregnancies. The same eligibility rules for other disabilities (i.e., no more days in your CAR, unpaid waiting period) apply to maternity-related disabilities.
However, for complicated pregnancies a member may be entitled to up to 52 weeks of disability benefits, as determined by the Welfare Fund’s medical adviser.