From the LRRC Case Files - High Income Edition - Week 3
Rivka Newman works as a manager for a large medical supplies business and has an annual salary of $60,000 a year. Her husband is an actuary for an insurance company with an annual salary of $110,000 a year. After finding out that she is expecting twins, Rivka's life took an unexpected turn. Pointing to possible complications, Rivka's doctor recommended her to remain on bed rest until the babies were born. Having used up all her vacation days, Rivka faces the prospect of several months without a paycheck. Are there any options available to help in her situation?
Answer: The answer is yes, Rivka should apply for Temporary Disability Insurance. Many employees across America have disability insurance deducted from their paycheck and are entitled to 26 weeks a year of paid time off if they are medically unable to work. Disability is a great safety net for everyone, regardless of your income. It will pay 2/3 of your salary (up to $637 a week). At the LRRC we have two pieces of advice for people applying for Temporary Disability. First, apply online at nj.gov/labor. Online applications are processed much faster than paper applications. Secondly, call our office if you have any questions or complications with your application. The LRRC has contacts in the Department of Labor who have helped many Lakewood residents with issues with their application.
There is another important benefit relevant to Rivka's case called Family Leave Insurance. Family Leave is a benefit that many employees pay into that allows them to take paid time off to bond with their newborn children as well as to help take care of sick immediate family members. This means that if Rivka is sick, Mr. Newman may take Family Leave in order to take care of her. Also, once the twins are born both parents can use Family Leave in order to take time off from work to bond with their new children. Family Leave covers 2/3 of one's salary (up to $637 a week) for 6 weeks a year. Like Disability, as long as you pay into the program as many employees do, you will be eligible regardless of your income. Family Leave may be taken for as long as 6 weeks in a 12 month period. Contact the LRRC for other eligibility requirements.
Tip: If you are laid off from your job, it is critical to file for unemployment benefits as soon as possible. Unemployment insurance will pay 60% of your previous salary (up to $681 a week) for up to 6 months. Unemployment benefits are not retroactive, so every week that you do not apply is money wasted. If you leave a job, call the LRRC to see if your reason for leaving may entitle you to unemployment benefits.
Don't Get Caught in the Bain Hazmanim Rush: One of the busiest times of year at the LRRC is the weeks right after Pesach. During bein hazmanim, our offices are completely packed with people seeking assistance. People want to get their affairs in order before the zman starts - not to mention the hundreds of people who are moving (or coming back from eretz yisroel) in time for the new zman. Trust us, it can get pretty busy! If you have a question that requires the assistance of a case worker, feel free to call us or come into our office, but please be patient! If quick wait times are important to you consider waiting until the zman starts to contact our office.
Tip: For many years there existed a program called PAGE designed to help families with higher income cover unpaid utility bills. At some point the program ran out of money and was inactive. Recently PAGE has received a large grant and is approving applications for utility assistance. PAGE provides up to $700 for each unpaid utility bill. You can be eligible even if you received money from the NJ Shares Program or the Gift of Warmth, but you must be above the HEAP limits to qualify. Call the LRRC to see if you are eligible for assistance from PAGE.