January 20, 2022

Stop Treating Pregnancy like a Disability

“Why is pregnancy considered an illness and why do we treat it as a disability?”
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If you work in insurance, you’ve likely explained how the pregnancy claim process works: “The sickness elimination period applies to your pregnancy claim. Pregnancies are not considered an accident.” 

Leaning on my prior experience, I can attest to this first-hand. I can recall countless conversations I’ve had with women who wanted short-term disability coverage because they were starting to plan for a family. 

But, short-term disability categorizes pregnancy as a “sickness.” Why? To me, my spouse, and my company, it’s considered a life event - and a beautiful one at that. Every other insurance product (health, vision, dental, etc) considers pregnancies, adoptions, and foster care as qualifying life events.

I’ve helped hundreds of moms file their disability claim after having a child and every time I had to remind the new mom: Don’t forget, this claim will be subject to the sickness elimination period.The average elimination period is 7 days and involves invasive medical history and information.  And, yes, I’m aware that qualifying events and disability claims are different. The way that we refer to childbirth shouldn’t be, especially to a mom who just had a child.

While we can’t change the way disability claims are filed or the elimination period, we can change the way that we help moms navigate this process. Because pregnancy is not a disability, it’s a life event. 

If we continue to remind ourselves of this, we can then address and realize that the resources new moms need differ from those who have an injury or actual sickness.  The last thing a working mother wants to do, after giving birth, is worry about how her family will make it through this life event while she’s not able to work. This only adds stress and takes away from being able to enjoy the moment. 

There will always be paperwork and processes moms and parents have to go through. But what if we could change the question from: “I have to come back after 6 weeks or I won’t be paid?” to “I get to spend 12 whole weeks with my new child!?”

Re-read that last paragraph and ask yourself: “Why is pregnancy considered an illness and why do we treat it as a disability?”

At Parento we’re addressing this question head on, helping employers support their employees through this life event as they grow their families. 

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