Legislation Would Provide Disability Insurance Benefit to Federal Employees

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By on January 18, 2018 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments

3D representations of people depicting a couple, a person in a wheelchair, and a child representing disability insurance

Legislation was introduced in the House this week to give federal employees the option to purchase short-term disability insurance through a group plan.

TheĀ Federal Employee Short-Term Disability Insurance Act of 2018 (H.R. 4806) was introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). It would allow federal workers to purchase short-term disability insurance at their own expense to replace a portion of their lost income for up to one year in the event they have an injury, a disability or become pregnant. The bill also would require participating insurance companies to offer coverage regardless of any pre-existing conditions.

Norton is touting the bill as a way to help pay for maternity leave to offset the fact that federal employees do not have paid maternity leave offered by the federal government since pregnancy would be one of the triggers for the insurance to kick in.

She also said that many federal employees already purchase short-term disability insurance on their own, but buying it through a large group policy offered by the federal government would lower the cost by obtaining a group rate. Federal employees would be responsible for 100% of the cost of premiums under the terms of the bill.

Image of Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

Norton said in a statement:

I decided to investigate how we could provide short-term disability insurance for federal employees after learning that many of them already buy short-term disability insurance as individuals in the private market at high individual rates.

Although federal employees have good health insurance, federal health benefits do not replace lost income if employees are unable to work. Moreover, while federal employees may have available sick or annual leave days, they may not have enough such days to pay the bills if they have to be out of work for an extended period.

My bill does no more than put federal employees in the same position as their private-sector counterparts, who often have access to disability insurance through an employer at group rates.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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