(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Elizabeth Muoio, Eric Houghtaling, Eliana Pintor Marin and Raj Mukherji to decrease the amount of time disabled workers must wait before receiving state disability benefits was released Monday by a Senate panel.
New Jersey is one of five states that offers temporary disability insurance (TDI), which provides workers with up to 26 weeks of benefits when they are unable to work due to non-occupational, short-term disabilities. The program provides weekly benefits up to two-thirds of a worker’s weekly wage. Pregnancy, childbirth and complications of childbirth account for about 25 percent of all claims and benefits.
“Beneficiaries who rely on TDI benefits – a quarter of whom are women caring for newborn children – often face a significant financial burden when they have to wait weeks before they receive payment,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “If the employee and his or her employer complete and submit all the necessary paperwork properly, there’s no reason it should take more than three weeks for the beneficiary to receive payment.”
About 35 percent of TDI claims take more than three weeks for LWD to process, according 2014 data from the department.
The bill (A-4172) would require the Division of Unemployment and Temporary Disability Insurance in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to make a determination of eligibility for family temporary disability leave benefits and pay out the benefits within three weeks of receiving a notice of a claim for benefits from the employer and employee.
“It is important for TDI and FLI claim processing is performed in an efficient and expeditious manner for our residents,” said Muoio (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “This legislation will help ensure that the Department of Labor and Workforce Development takes no longer than three weeks to process claims under the state’s family temporary disability leave benefits programs.”
“Many New Jersey residents, mostly women and children, rely on the timely release of their TDI and FLI benefits every month,” said Houghtaling (D-Essex, Morris). “A delay in releasing these benefits hurts New Jersey families and children who depend on them during a difficult time.”
“In 2014 about 35% of TDI claims were taking over three weeks for the Department to process, placing a serious financial burden on those beneficiaries relying on those benefits,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “There has to be a better way to process and remit payment to families who depend on these benefits to maintain their households.”
“Bills and living expenses don’t go away simply because a person is on temporary disability,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Families that rely on these benefits while they are unable to work should not have to wait longer than necessary for their payments.”
The bill was approved by the Senate Labor Committee. It was approved 64-6-3 by the full Assembly in March, and now awaits final legislative approval by the full Senate.