There is a law called FMLA or the Family Medical Leave Act. A friend of mine makes the following two claims about it:

  1. A person who has an unexpected medical problem (such as a stroke) can use this act to take paid time off.
  2. A person who has a son who has unexpected medical problem (such as a stroke) can use this act to take paid time off.

I believe that both are wrong. However, I am thinking both claims would be correct if you changed the word paid to unpaid. Also, in the first case the person might be eligible for disability insurance. Am I right?

  • 1
    short and long term disability are the only things in the US that pay you when you are sick.
    – Tiger Guy
    Apr 18, 2023 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


There is an FAQ at the FMLA web site here:


In that page there is this paragraph:

Qualifying conditions (Q) When can an eligible employee use FMLA leave?

A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12 month period for one or more of the following reasons:

for the birth of a son or daughter, and to bond with the newborn child; for the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, and to bond with that child; to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent – but not a parent “in-law”) with a serious health condition; to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or for qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces. The FMLA also allows eligible employees to take up to 26 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a “single 12-month period” to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

The next question is what is a "serious" medical condition. That's also covered in the FAQ:

Serious health condition (Q) What is a serious health condition?

The most common serious health conditions that qualify for FMLA leave are:

conditions requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility; conditions that incapacitate you or your family member (for example, unable to work or attend school) for more than three consecutive days and have ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication); chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when you or your family member are incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year; and pregnancy (including prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically required bed rest).

While a "stroke" is not specifically mentioned, the resulting medical conditions after a stroke might certainly fall under the FMLA.

If you believe you are entitled to such benefits, you should start with your HR department.

  • My reading of the text you quoted is that leave can be granted to care for the son in the original question. I don’t see that you can use FLMA when you’re the one with a medical issue.
    – doneal24
    Apr 18, 2023 at 20:55
  • Please read it again. To quote: "to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition"
    – jwh20
    Apr 18, 2023 at 21:46

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