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Navigating the rights of an employee with a disability in Illinois short-term disability can seem complex. This guide cuts straight to the heart of your rights, the protections you are entitled to under Illinois law, and the practical steps you need to take if you find yourself unable to work due to your disability. Get clear, direct answers on how to apply for benefits, what to expect in terms of employer obligations, and what resources are available to support you during this transition, without the fluff.

Employees with disabilities are protected by both State and Federal law. The protections are intended to ensure that anyone with a qualified disability is not discriminated against, treated unfairly, or denied an opportunity based on their disabilities.  

Understanding Short-Term Disability in Illinois

Short-term disability insurance in Illinois offers crucial financial aid to individuals who are unable to work due to injury, illness, or chronic condition. It serves as a valuable source of support during uncertain times and allows for focus on recovery without worrying about finances.

Typically lasting from several weeks up to one year, short-term disability coverage is designed for temporary setbacks. If an individual’s medical situation exceeds the expected duration of one year, it is recommended that they seek protection through accommodations provided by the Social Security Administration. This ensures continued support when needed.

Who Determines if I am Qualified as Disabled?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has established a series of rules and standards that will determine what type of situations qualify as disabilities. To establish a disability in the legal sense, you must fall into one of the determinations found in the ADA and receive a determination the Social Security Administration (SSA).  

Woman in wheelchair celebrates work party

Does There Always Need to be an Agency Determination?

For a permanent disability, a finding through the Social Security Administration is necessary. There are certain temporary disabilities that can be determined and protected without a finding from the SSA.

Do I Need to Discuss My Disability with My Employer?

If you were disabled at the time of your application and your disability is disclosed during that process, you are not required to discuss the details of your disability with your employer. You may need to discuss the accommodations needed for your disability to ensure that your needs are being met.

Once I am Determined to Have a Qualified Disability, Do I Have Additional Rights?

Once you are established with a disability as recognized under the ADA, you are deemed a protected class. This means that you cannot be discriminated against on the basis of your disability. You are also able to seek reasonable accommodations to preform the duties of your employment.

What Types of Activities are Protected?

All employment related activities as protected which includes recruitment, hiring, training, assignments, promotions, pay, benefits, leave, and layoffs. Additionally, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for asserting your rights under the ADA.

Can I Request Accommodations Based on My Disability?

Yes, if you can perform the essential functions of your position with the assistance of a reasonable accommodation, your employer is required to make such an accommodation for you. Your employer is not required to change the functions of your employment position but must allow the accommodation that allows for you to complete those functions.

Woman in wheelchair sits at the table with other employees

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that allows for a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.  

Some reasonable accommodations can be providing or modifying equipment, job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, and making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

Is My Employer Required to Provide a Reasonable Accommodation When Requested?

Yes, unless the employer can demonstrate that creating or allowing for that accommodation would create an undue hardship or an unreasonable financial burden.

What if I am Fired or Treated Differently Due to My Disability?

If you feel that you are being discriminated against in some capacity, which includes being terminated, being passed over for promotions and raises, or not afforded the chance to have employment that you are otherwise qualified for, you need to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to report the perceived discrimination. The EEOC will then investigate the claims and render a finding.  For more information read our article, Title VII and Change to Employee Discrimination Law

Disabled woman serves drinks at her job

What is Short Term Disability?

Short-term disability in Illinois is a temporary medical condition, lasting less than one year caused by non-occupational accidents, conditions, or illnesses.

How is Short Term Disability Different than a Permanent Disability?

Short term disability allows for the same accommodation requests and protects your continued employment. In the case where you can no longer work due to the temporary disability, your income is protected through disability insurance which pays a percentage of the disabled employees regular income.

How Long Can Short Term Disability Last?

Short term disability is only for medical conditions lasting less than one year. If your condition is going to last longer than one year, you will need to consider seeking a finding through SSA to continue with any accommodations and protections you may need to continue your employment.

Feel free to contact one of our Illinois employment attorneys and someone will be in contact with you shortly.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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