If you're seriously injured or become seriously ill, you've no doubt got a lot to worry about. And at the top of that whole pile is probably your cash flow. After all, without work, how are you going to pay the bills?
The good news is, there are a few states out there that offer state disability programs to help keep you afloat through the struggle. Unfortunately, only five states participate, for now.
A local independent insurance agent can help you track down all the answers you need and get you set up with all the coverage you need to stay on top of the game during your time away from work.
Pretty great, huh? But first, here's a bit more info on exactly what state disability programs are, how they work, and how to enroll in your own.
What's a State Disability Program?
Simply put, a state disability program helps replace the wages of workers who are injured or severely ill and unable to perform their regular job duties.
These state disability programs are currently in only five states — California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Each state has a different formula when it comes to what exactly they offer, but they all agree on the basics.
The participating states also agree that all eligible employees must work with a healthcare professional. They also must have contributed to the disability state program fund via their paycheck deductions for a certain amount of time.
California's State Disability Program
The state of California's disability program comes in the form of disability insurance and paid family leave. Disability insurance in the state program allows a portion of your wages to be supplemented during an illness or disability. Disability benefits are paid for a maximum of 52 weeks and pay out anywhere from $50 to $1,252 per week.
You may be eligible to use paid family leave to care for an ill family member or to bond with your new child. Paid family leave is 6 weeks of coverage, and if eligible, you can receive about 60% to 70% of wages earned. The maximum amount in wage replacement is $1,252 per week.
To be eligible for California disability insurance:
You must apply for coverage and file a claim using SDI Online or a paper claim form.
There's a seven-day, non-payable waiting period before benefits kick in.
You must have contributed at least $300 in wages that funded state disability insurance in a 12-month period.
A healthcare professional must verify your disability.
Hawaii's State Disability Program
The state of Hawaii’s disability program provides disability insurance supplementing partial wages to eligible employees. The program covers non-work-related injuries or illnesses and pregnancy.
The amount that the program will pay to each participating employee is determined by what your employer signed up for. Yep, it all depends on your employer. Here’s hoping your boss picked a good plan. Your independent insurance agent can help fill in any gaps in coverage, so not to worry.
To be eligible for Hawaii disability insurance:
You must have at least 14 weeks of Hawaii employment where they were paid for 20 hours or more.
You must have earned no less than $400 in the 52 weeks preceding the first day of disability.
The 14 weeks don’t have to be consecutive or with only one employer.
You must must be currently employed.
You must apply for coverage.
New Jersey's State Disability Program
The New Jersey disability program offers disability and paid family leave insurance for workers who become disabled or ill from a non-work event. The employer has the option to select the state disability plan or an outside disability plan from a local independent insurance agent.
To be eligible for New Jersey disability insurance:
You need to have paid into the program through your employment.
You must meet minimum gross earnings requirements.
You must not be one of the following exempt employee types: federal government employees, out-of-state employees, or workers who are not technically employees.
You must apply for the coverage
New York's State Disability Program
The New York disability program offers disability insurance for workers who, you guessed it, have non-work-related injuries or illnesses that make them unable to perform their regular job duties. Seeing a pattern with these state programs?
After a seven-day waiting period, you can receive 50% of your average salary for the past eight weeks. This is only up to the maximum benefit of $170 per week. From there you will receive benefits for up to 26 weeks.
To be eligible for New York disability insurance:
You must first exhaust any sick leave benefits from your job.
You must submit your medical claims to your health insurance plan.
You must apply for coverage.
Rhode Island's State Disability Program
The Rhode Island disability program protects workers from losing wages due to a non-work-related illness or disability. Disability insurance will pay out a minimum of $98 per week and a maximum of $867 per week.
They also have temporary caregiver insurance that will cover up to 4 weeks of supplemental income, should you have to give care to a sick or disabled family member.
To be eligible for Rhode Island disability insurance:
You must have paid in 1.1% of wages in a 12-month period.
You must have $12,600 in base-period wage or $2,100 in one of the base period quarters.
You must have worked for an employer and meet all other eligibility requirements.
You must have paid in 4.62% of total high-quarter wages in the base period.
How an Independent Insurance Agent Can Help
If you are an employer, an independent insurance agent can help explain all the offerings for your employees, and if a disability program is mandatory in your state or you have alternative options.
If you're an employee, an independent insurance agent can help decipher your current coverage through an employer offering and show you some coverages that may fill in the gaps. It's almost certain that state disability insurance, while helpful, won’t be enough coverage to completely fill the void.
If you have state disability insurance already, you're off to a great start. But there's still some work that needs to be done to make sure you have the right coverage. Call to your independent insurance agent today and get the facts about your disability insurance, before you need it.