The Family and Medical Leave Act protects people who take time off for disability, health or caregiving reasons. This is separate from Social Security Disability. There are certain qualifications that must be met in order to take advantage of either of these benefits. You can get FMLA for a disability, but qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits is different.

The differences between the Family and Medical Leave Act and Social Security Disability:

– Who can apply.

For both FMLA and Social Security Disability, not everyone is covered. For FMLA, you need to have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours. For Social Security Disability, your condition must be either terminal or expected to last at least 12 months.

– The benefits.

FMLA protects your job for 12 weeks within a 12 month period, but does not pay. You can apply for short-term or long-term disability along with FMLA, which will pay a portion of your salary while you’re out. These are things that you must already be covered by before your leave. Social Security Disability will pay you while you’re out of work and this depends on how much you’ve already paid into Social Security

– You can’t “double dip.”

If you apply for Social Security Disability for the same period of time where you collected STD or LTD, you will be required to pay back the STD/LTD as this will be considered overpayments.

– Health insurance.

There may be issues with your health insurance during the time you’re out of work. For SSDI, there is a waiting period of 24 months before you’re eligible for Medicaid. For STD/LTD/FMLA, you can retain your health insurance during this time. They will pull insurance payments out of your paychecks until you are no longer receiving them. After this, you may need to write a check to your employer in order to retain your health insurance coverage. At this point, you may need to consider COBRA in order to bridge the gap.

Depending on your specific condition, FMLA or Social Security Disability will need to be evaluated. For most people on FMLA, they will probably be returning to work at the end of 12 weeks, but for those with serious disabilities, this may not be possible. Contact us for any questions.