Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) earlier this month reintroduced legislation that would allow federal employees to purchase short-term disability insurance for disabilities that are not work-related.
If passed, the Federal Employee Short-Term Disability Insurance Act (HR 6932), federal employees could purchase the insurance at group rates to replace a portion of their income lost due to a short-term injury or disability, pregnancy or pregnancy-related illness.
According to Norton, federal employees would be responsible for 100 percent of the premiums and be able to receive disability insurance benefits for up to one year.
“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,” said Norton. “Although federal employees have good health insurance, federal health benefits do not replace lost income if employees are unable to work.”
Norton also noted that the proposed legislation is important with the emergence of Long COVID, which is returning or ongoing health problems people may experience after being first infected with SARS-CoV-2.
“According to the Social Security Administration, a 20-year-old worker has a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled by retirement age,” Norton said. “The majority of disabilities are not caused by major accidents, but by injuries or illnesses, such as back injuries or cancer, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.”
“There is every reason to allow our federal employees to take advantage of the federal government’s purchasing power to obtain the most reasonable price if they choose to purchase short-term disability coverage on their own, at no cost to the federal government,” Norton said.
To read the full text of the bill, go here.
Rep. Norton proposed similar legislation for short-term disability insurance in 2019.