What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

Submitted by pec on

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into federal law 30 years ago in 1993. It allows employees to take leave from their employers without the worry of losing their jobs for medical and family reasons. The FMLA applies to any employers that are government agencies, including public schools as well as private employers with 50 or more employees. There are a number of conditions that apply to taking leave under the FMLA and these may affect the person’s ability to apply for social security disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Family and Medical Leave Act

The FMLA is a federal law that makes it easier for employees who work for employers covered by the Act to take leave from their job for family and medical reasons. Most employers do not pay normal wage or salary entitlements while the eligible employee is on leave, although this depends on the employer.

The amount of leave which can be taken according to the FMLA is a maximum of 12 work weeks but up to 26 weeks in any 12 month period if the employee has a seriously sick or injured servicemember who they have to care for.

Employment related medical insurance cover must be kept while the employee is on leave as if they were still working. This can affect applications for disability payments if the employee makes an application to the SSA while on leave.

FMLA and Social Security Disability Benefits

If your medical condition is severe enough, you may decide to apply for disability benefits from the SSA. These benefits are available for serious medical conditions if symptoms meet the exacting criteria set out in the SSA’s Blue Book and you have sufficient medical documentation to demonstrate the severity of your condition.

You may opt to apply for leave under the FMLA while waiting for a decision by the SSA, but this can complicate decision making. This is because the FMLA is to be used for temporary absences from work. Applying for leave implies that you will soon be going to work. This is not something that would work in your favor if you have applied for disability benefits as one of the conditions for approval is that you are unable to work for a minimum of 12 months from the onset of your medical condition that you have applied leave for.

Get Connected with a Social Security Disability Lawyer

While the FMLA allows you to take unpaid leave from your work without the worry of losing your job, it is not a solution to longer term disability. If you think that you may not be able to return to work for at least 12 months, you may still be able to obtain disability benefits by applying to the SSA. It may be advisable to get legal advice from a disability attorney about your best options and what you need to do to support a claim for disability benefits.

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