Protect your income in the event you're unable to work

Image caption: New this year is an increase in the weekly maximum payout, which will be $2,500 in 2018.

Being stricken with an illness or injury that keeps you out of work is challenging enough without financial worries adding to the strain. One way to ensure you'll still have an income even if you need to be out of work beyond two weeks is to buy short-term disability insurance, offered by JHU to employees through The Hartford.

Know your benefits

10 ways JHU employees can customize their coverage

"It's actually income protection," explains JHU benefits consultant Darlene Kurek. "Provided you remain disabled and unable to work, you'll continue to get 60 percent of your pay for up to 11 weeks, when long-term disability goes into effect." That helps bridge the gap between sick leave—short-term disability kicks in after 14 days of illness or injury—and long-term disability, which JHU provides free of charge to all full-time and bargaining unit members.

New this year is an increase in the weekly maximum payout, which was set at $1,000 and will be $2,500 in 2018. The higher payment maximum means that higher earners may pay a larger premium than in the past but will get more than double the benefit in the event they experience a disability.

Having a baby?

Whether or not you opt to buy short-term disability insurance, you also can take advantage of a generous new Family Leave for New Parents policy, which went into effect July 1, 2017. The policy allows full- or part-time faculty, visiting faculty, staff, and bargaining unit members who've been employed at least a year to take four weeks of full pay after their child is born or placed through adoption (yes, this means dads, too).

New parents can take their leave anytime in the baby's first year of life—in one block or spread out over the year in full-day increments.

"You don't have to sign up for this at Annual Enrollment; you request it when the need arises," Kurek says. "And it can be used by mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents and surrogate parents."

JHU-employed new moms also get an additional six weeks of paid Birth Recovery Leave, taken immediately after childbirth. The leave can be extended if deemed medically necessary.

The policy is welcome news for new moms and dads, who in the past relied on short-term disability—at less than full pay—or took vacation days to cover time at home with a new baby or to recover from childbirth.

That said, "we'd still encourage people to sign up for short-term disability," Kurek says. "It's not just for pregnancy. Other medical issues can arise, so it's still a great benefit to have."

Who's eligible: For short-term disability: Full-time faculty, staff, and bargaining unit members; for family leave: full- and part-time faculty, visiting faculty, staff, and bargaining unit members who have been employed in an eligible status for at least one year.

When do I sign up? At hire; during Annual Enrollment, Oct. 20 to Nov. 7, 2017; or when you experience a qualified life event.

How do I pay for it? Payroll deduction.