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Short-term Disability for Salary-paid Postdocs

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File  a claim either by using AbsenceOne Portal or by calling (866-566-1906)

Find 2024 documentation and resources for the Voluntary Disability Plan (VDI)

Postdocs who work in California and are paid a salary (paid twice a month through Stanford University) are enrolled in the Voluntary Disability Insurance (VDI) plan and Paid Family Leave  (PFL) plan through AbsenceOne.

Who's Eligible?

A salary-paid postdoctoral scholar residing in California and has Voluntary Disability/EE withholdings from their Stanford paychecks.

How to Request A Disability Leave

VDI Benefits

Weekly Benefit Amount:

  • 60% of a postdoc's weekly base salary, if earning above $28,617 salary annually, subject to limitations
  • 70% of a postdoc's weekly base salary, if earning less than $28,617 salary annually, subject to limitations
  • The maximum benefit is $1,620 per week and is subject to change every January 1st
  • The minimum benefit is $50 per week
  • The benefit is paid weekly and is not taxable income

Waiting Period Before Benefits Become Payable

  • 7 full or partial calendar days
  • Benefits will start on the day of hospitalization or surgery or on the 8th day of disability, whichever occurs first

Maximum Benefit Duration

  • 52 weeks or until the physician's certification expires (if sooner)

Pre-existing Limitation

Salary Supplement

  • Postdocs may use sick and Time Off With Pay to supplement their disability benefit payment.
  • Maternity Disability Leave Only: Postdocs are eligible to receive up to six weeks of maternity leave with full pay. The postdoc is required to apply for short-term disability. The department will supplement the disability benefit to bring the postdoc to 100% full pay for six weeks of maternity disability.
  • Learn about the Leave Policy, including Time Off With Pay, sick time, and maternity leave.


Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits Information

Paid Family Leave (PFL) provides a benefit to eligible salary-paid postdocs who reside and work in CA and take an approved leave of absence:

  • To care for a seriously ill family member (child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, parent-in-law)
  • To bond with a new child (Limitation: Leave for birth or placement must be concluded within the first year after the birth or placement)

PFL does not create additional leave rights or guarantee job projection. It is a component of Stanford's Voluntary Disability Insurance (VDI) plan and State Disability Insurance (SDI).

Weekly Benefit Amount

  • 60% of a postdoc's weekly base salary if earning above $28,617 salary annually; subject to limitations
  • 70% of a postdoc's weekly base salary if earning less than $28,617 salary annually; subject to limitations
  • Maximum of $1,620 per week subject to change every January 1st
  • Minimum benefit is $50 per week
  • The benefit is paid weekly and is taxable for Federal income tax only

Waiting Period Before Benefits Become Payable

  • 0 days - PFL benefits do not have an elimination period.

Maximum Benefit Duration

  • Up to 8 weeks of PFL benefits in a rolling 12-month period.

Pre-existing Limitation

  • PFL benefits will be limited to the state plan rate. Please refer to the VDI Statement of Coverage for additional information.

Salary Supplement

  • Postdocs may use Time Off With Pay to supplement their PFL benefit payment.

Learn about the Leave Policy, including time off with pay.

Family Medical Leave

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides you with up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected time during a 12-month period for a wide range of reasons, including your own medical condition.  You do not need to take this leave all at once.


To be eligible for FMLA, you must meet two conditions:

  1. You must have at least one year of service with Stanford and;
  2. You must have worked at least 1,250 salary hours through Stanford University payroll within the past 12 months.

Reasons for Using FMLA

Only certain conditions qualify for FMLA, some of the most common ones include:

  • You have a serious health condition that prevents you from doing your job
  • You are unable to work for reasons related to pregnancy
  • You are a new parent (this includes fathers, same-sex spouses, and registered domestic partners) and you are taking a Parental Leave to bond with your newborn, newly adopted child, or newly placed foster child
  • You need to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.

Pay while on FMLA

Although these leaves are unpaid, you may be able to use disability benefits, Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits, sick time, and/or Time Off With Pay, at the same time to replace a portion of your lost income.

International Scholars in J1 status must note that unpaid leaves are reviewed in light of the J1 program regulations which require pursuance of the J program objectives while the scholar is in the U.S. If the leave request is determined to constitute a violation of the visa status, it may not be approved. International postdocs who request an unpaid leave should do so BEFORE the start of the leave's occurrence, and immediately upon learning of the need to take a leave. The university is required to report infractions in the scholar's SEVIS record. Documentation to support the request may be required in order to review any leave requests.

The calculation period changed on January 1, 2015. See details of the FMLA Calculation Change.

Steps for Taking Leave

Ensure your leave of absence goes smoothly by reviewing the steps below.

Step 1:  Work with your Postdoc Disability Leave Specialist to determine the type of leave you need to take

  • Own serious health condition
  • Pregnancy-Related
  • Bond with a New Child
  • Care for a seriously ill Family Member

If you are interested in learning more about Maternity Leave, consider attending the Maternity & Paternity Session.

  • Special Note: Notify the Postdoc Benefits Office as soon as you know about your pregnancy. Approximately 8 weeks before your estimated due date, the Postdoc Disability Specialist will set up a zoom meeting to discuss your leave options. Health information, including pregnancy, is protected information and is not shared outside the Postdoc Benefits Office.

Step 2:  Notify your PI/Faculty Mentor

Notify your PI/Faculty Mentor and your department administrator regarding the type of leave you want to take. If you are planning a leave in advance, such as a pregnancy leave or elective surgery, notify your PI/Faculty Sponsor at least 30 days before your intended leave. Estimate your expected leave dates to the best of your knowledge. 

Step 3:  Complete the Request for Disability Leave Form

Complete the Request for Disability Leave Form and email the Postdoc Benefits Office.

Step 4:  Open a claim

AbsenceOne is Stanford's disability administrator. Start a claim on

When you report your claim, have these materials ready:

  • The reason you are taking a leave
  • The last day you will work, the first day you will be absent from work, and your anticipated return date.
  • Your physician or medical care provider's contact information

When you open a claim, you can choose your communications preferences -- by mail or email -- and AbsenceOne will send an initial information packet to you with important details. To avoid delays, download and sign the  Authorization to Release Information form sent in the packet.

If you are eligible for Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) and you have filed a disability or Paid Family Leave claim, your FMLA will run concurrently.

Step 5:  Keep us updated

Notify AbsenceOne, PI/Faculty Mentor, and the Postdoc Disability Specialist if anything changes during your leave, including if your return to work will be:

  • Earlier or later than anticipated
  • With restrictions; or,
  • On a part-time schedule until you are ready to return to your full duties.

Step 6:  Return to work

It is important to prepare for a smooth return to work. At least one week before you plan to return to work, confirm your return to work date with AbsenceOne and your Postdoc Disability Leave Specialist. They will be able to help you with the transition back to work and verify they have everything they need for your return.

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