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How Do I Qualify for Work Disability in New Jersey?

April 18, 2018 |

disabilityFew people think about what would happen if they were suddenly hurt or became so sick that they couldn’t return to work, but it is an unfortunate reality that faces people around the world every day. Employees in the state of New Jersey are protected from the financial challenges presented by these situations by the Temporary Disability Benefits Law, or TDBL, which provides qualified workers with up to 26 weeks of partial wage replacement if they suffer from a non-work-related sickness or injury that prevents them from working.

In order to qualify for this work disability benefit, an employee must have had at least 20 base weeks of New Jersey covered employment in which they’ve earned a minimum of $169 per week, or have earned $8,500 or more over the previous 52 weeks before their illness or injury. The law covers all employers who have one or more employees, and to whom they pay total wages of $1,000 or more per calendar year. The calculation of the benefit is based on the employee’s average weekly wage: they are paid two-thirds of that wage up to a maximum amount payable, which is $637 for calendar year 2018.

The TDBL is specifically and explicitly separate and apart from workers’ compensation benefits. Injuries and illnesses sustained on the job are not covered, and there are other restrictions as well, including:

  • No benefits will be paid for more than 26 weeks within a single disability period
  • No benefits are paid for the first seven consecutive days of a single disability period
  • No benefits will be paid if the employee was not under the care of a licensed doctor or appropriate health care professional
  • Benefits are not allowed during a period when the employee did any work for which they were paid
  • Government workers are not covered until they have exhausted all available sick leave
  • Workers are not eligible during periods when they are covered by Unemployment
  • Self-inflected willful and intentional injuries are not covered

Any type of illness or injury that prevents an employee from being able to return to work can qualify. This includes pregnancy, for which compensation can be provided up to four weeks before the expected due date and up to six weeks after, and longer if there are complications with the pregnancy.

If you are disabled and would like to apply for work disability, your employer has the right to request an independent medical examination, but they can’t deny disability leave. For a better understanding of your rights, contact our office today.