Information Site for Faculty on Short Term Disability

Since December 15, 2009, all employees enrolled in an optional retirement plan (ORP) are covered by a short-term disability plan administered by The Standard Insurance Company, a third party vendor contracted by the University.

For those employees who are enrolled in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), their short term disability will continue to be managed through the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program. Please refer to UHR’s guidelines on VSDP benefits.

Questions regarding either of these plans should be directed to University Human Resources’ Service Center at 982-0123.

The following resources are availble to guide you through the process:

Frequently Asked Questions on Short Term Disability for Faculty on Optional Retirement Plans

(includes TIAA-Cref, Vanguard, and Fidelity)

What is the Short Term Disability Benefit?

Paid leave for an approved time period for absences greater than five days for reasons of ill health or pregnancy/recovery from childbirth, up to a maximum of six months.

How is a Short Term Disability Defined?

Being unable to perform with reasonable continuity the material duties of the employee’s own occupation, as a result of physical disease, injury, pregnancy or mental disorder.

Why does the University define maternity as short term disability

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (part of the Civil Rights Act) requires employers to treat a pregnant employee the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. Employers may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee's ability to work, and pregnant employees must be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees regarding disability benefits.

Who will notify my supervisor of my absence?

When possible, it is recommended that you have a conversation about your potential leave with your supervisor. For teaching and research faculty, the supervisor is typically your department chair, a division chief, or a dean. The Leave Center of the University’s Benefits Office will contact your supervisor both when you file a short term disability claim and when it is approved. While it is in your best interest to discuss your upcoming absence with your supervisor, you do not need to reveal any medical or personal details regarding the reason.

What if my absence is unplanned?

If you have an emergency, as soon you or your next of kin are able, contact your supervisor and ask them to notify University Human Resources.

Who will arrange coverage of my work responsibilities while on short term disability?

Arrangements for covering responsibilities, including teaching and research, will be coordinated by your department after The Standard has made a decision regarding your absence. A return to work prior to the end of your approved leave time should be initiated by the employee, working with The Standard and their department.

If my claim is approved, how will I be compensated?

Salary will be paid through the normal payroll cycle through existing department funds.

How do I initiate a claim?

You initiate a claim by contacting The Standard’s claim intake specialists at 1-800-378-2395, Monday-Friday between 8am and 5pm EST. For more details on the steps to initiating a claim, go to our Claims FAQs [hot link] below.

Would I need to make a claim for short term disability if I am a 9-month faculty member expecting a child during the summer months when I am not paid.

If a reportable event occurs during a period in which you are not paid, then you would not be eligible for paid leave through short term disability. If an event occurs that will impact your return to paid work at the University, you should initiate a claim with The Standard.

I’m planning to have surgery over the summer, when I am paid, but not teaching. Why should I file a claim at all?

You should file a claim, even over the summer. Not filing impacts your ability to take advantage of your long term disability benefit. If for some reason your disability extends past six months and it becomes necessary for you to move to long term disability, you need to have filed the short term claim first.

If I am on the tenure track, is a short term disability leave at all related to stopping the tenure clock?

Clock stoppage is a separate issue, although a disability leave may be a factor in requesting time off the clock. For further information, please consult the University’s promotion and tenure policy.

What if I am unable to file a claim due to medical reasons?

If unable to initiate a claim for medical reasons, anyone to whom you have designated medical power of attorney can initiate a claim on your behalf. If you have not designated power of attorney, a spouse or immediate relative (parent, sibling, child) can initiate a claim on your behalf.

What are my options if I feel I am not ready to return to work when The Standard says I can?

Employees have a number of options regarding returning to work. First, there is a certain amount of departmental discretion regarding your work assignment; the short term disability benefit applies to the leave for medical reasons only. Accommodations can be made regarding release time, a partial return to work, working from an alternate location, or using your annual leave, as long as these accommodations are consistently applied regardless of the reason for the absence. Another option is FMLA, which is automatically triggered by the claim and runs concurrent to the short-term disability, allowing for 12 amount of weeks unpaid leave.

Does paternity leave fall under this program?

Paternity is a FMLA event but is not connected to a disability of the employee and therefore does not fall under the short term disability plan. Please refer to the provost’s web site for the leave policies in effect regarding paternity.

What if my absences are intermittent, for chemotherapy, for example?

Many employees wish to work when they can, depending on the nature of the disability. To that end, the new STD plan allows for part-time disability. In other words, you don’t need to be away from your job exclusively. The employee works with The Standard to determine the employee’s ability to return to work on a part-time or intermittent basis. Part-time short-term disability does not negatively impact your ability to convert to long term disability if that becomes necessary.
Questions regarding the new plan can be directed to University Human Resources’ Service Center at 982-0123.

Frequently Asked Questions About Filing a Short Term Disability Claim

The following questions and answers will help you file a claim by telephone with Standard Insurance Company should you become disabled. The steps outlined below will enable you to access claims services quickly and easily.

Who will administer my claim?

The University of Virginia has retained Standard Insurance Company to act on its behalf as Claims Administrator for the Plan with respect to all claims for benefits submitted to The Standard for administration and management. The University of Virginia retains the right of final review and decision on all claims and appeals. The University is solely responsible for all risks, liabilities, benefits and claims under the Plan.

What number do I call to initiate the claim process?

Please call The Standard’s Disability Claim Reporting Service at 800.378.2395 to report a claim.

What are the hours of operation for the Disability Claim Reporting Service?

The Standard’s claim intake specialists are available Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time. If you call outside these hours, you may leave a detailed voicemail message, including your name and phone number, and a claim intake specialist will call you the following business day during business hours. Please identify yourself as an employee of the University of Virginia.

When I call to report my claim, what questions will I be asked?

You will be asked to provide the following information: Employer: Rectors and Visitors of University of Virginia Group Plan number: 647264 Name and Social Security number Last day at work Nature of claim Physician information* - Name, address, phone number and fax number *The Standard will provide you with an Attending Physician’s Statement for your doctor to complete. You will be responsible for collecting any medical information necessary for the processing of your claim.

Who is responsible for notifying the University of my absence?

It is your responsibility to follow the normal University absence reporting procedures by notifying your manager or supervisor of your absence; however, once The Standard has notified University Human Resources of your intent to file an STD claim, HR will also notify your department.

Will I receive a confirmation from The Standard after I initiate a claim?

After initiating an STD claim, The Standard will send you a letter confirming receipt of your claim. In addition, The Standard will include an Attending Physician’s Statement for your physician to complete and an Authorization to Obtain Information form for you to sign and return.

How long does it normally take for a claim decision?

Once The Standard receives a completed claim application, it will take approximately one week to make a claim decision. If we have not made a decision within one week, you will be notified with details explaining why there is a delay.

If my claim for STD benefits is approved, how long will it take to receive my first check?

STD benefits will be paid by your employer through your normal payroll cycle.

Whom should I call with questions about my claim?

For general questions about your claim, please call The Standard’s toll-free Disability Benefits number, 800.426.4332. A knowledgeable customer service benefits examiner will be happy to assist you.