New Jersey is one of the few states that has a temporary disability insurance (TDI) program. The program is funded through salary deductions from employees and contributions by employers. The TDI program covers disabilities (including pregnancy) that are not work-related. Injuries or illnesses suffered on the job are generally handled through the state's workers' compensation program (although an employee may be eligible for TDI coverage if workers' comp benefits are denied or stop).
Which Employees Are Eligible for Benefits?
Employees are eligible for benefits if they have worked at least 20 calendar weeks, and earned at least $145 per week, in the year before filing a claim. Employees are also eligible if they earned at least $7,300 total in the year before filing a claim, no matter how many weeks they earned.
Employees must have been working for a covered New Jersey employer within at least two weeks of developing a disability. (Employees who were not employed at at least two weeks before becoming disabled may be eligible for benefits through a different program, which funds disability benefits during unemployment.)
What Benefits Are Available -- and For How Long?
Generally, employees may collect benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks per benefit year. For a normal pregnancy, benefits are available for up to four weeks before birth and up to six weeks after. Benefits may be allowed for a longer period if the employee has a Caesarian section, has specific complications related to her pregnancy, has another disability, or is otherwise physically unable to do her regular job.
Eligible employees receive two-thirds of their average weekly salary in the eight weeks before filing a claim, up to a maximum amount set by law. This amount changes periodically; for 2011, the maximum benefit amount is $559.
Filing a Claim
To file for benefits, you must mail the claim form, Form DS-1, to the Disability Insurance Office in Trenton. The form has three parts: You must complete one, your doctor must complete one, and your most recent employer must complete one. You must file a claim within 30 days of becoming disabled; if you file later, you must include an explanation of why you couldn't file on time.
Help from a Disability Employment Attorney
If you have been denied benefits improperly or you believe your employer has discriminated against you because of your pregnancy or disability, you may want to consult an experienced disability rights lawyer.