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Sumter, Mukherji, Pintor Marin & Wimberly Bill to Ease Transition from Disability to Work Approved by Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter, Raj Mukherji, Eliana Pintor Marin and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to establish a partial return to work program for residents receiving temporary disability insurance was approved 74-0 Thursday by the full Assembly.

Currently, the temporary disability insurance (TDI) law provides for benefits only during the time that the worker is completely unable to work due to the disability. The bill provides that the part-time TDI benefit is the full-time TDI benefit amount minus the wages paid to the worker during a week.

The bill (A-1980) would permit the payment of TDI benefits on a reduced basis to temporarily disabled workers who are otherwise eligible for TDI benefits but only able to return to work on a part-time basis while recovering from a disability. In addition, the measure permits such partial benefits only after a worker has been completely unable to work due to a disability and receiving full TDI benefits for at least seven days.

“Implementing a partial return to work program allows residents to ease back into working after being out on disability,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It will help both employers and workers with the transition back into the workplace.”

“The bill’s intent is to allow workers to transition back to work by initially working on a part- time basis, and to provide cost savings by reducing benefit costs during those transitions,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “A similar program has been implemented in Rhode Island in 2007, which has been reported to have seen savings every year in operation.”

“This is pro-worker legislation,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “With so many residents struggling to make ends meet, we have to ensure that those who unfortunately suffer a disability are treated fairly.”

“Sometimes a person with a disability cannot return to work full-time right away,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “A partial return to work program will help families as they readjust to their work schedules. It might also allow residents to return to work sooner.”

Employers are not required under the bill to permit a worker to return to work on a reduced basis; and the worker will remain eligible for benefits until fully recovered from the disability benefits for a worker.

The bill will now be forwarded to the governor.