If you suffer a temporary illness or injury as an employee, but your medical condition wasn't due to your job, you may be eligible for disability benefits through New Jersey's State Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program.
The TDI program provides cash benefits to employees who have to stop working due to a disabling physical or mental health condition. The program is funded by New Jersey employers and workers. Workers contribute through deductions taken out of their paychecks. For 2022, the deduction is 0.14% of wages, capped at $151,900.
To be eligible for New Jersey's TDI program, you must have a non-work-related illness or injury that keeps you from working and be under medical care for treatment of the disabling condition. (For information on benefits for injuries or illness that result from work, see our article on New Jersey Workers' Compensation.)
You also must have worked for at least 20 calendar weeks earning at least $240 per week for a covered New Jersey employer. Alternatively, you must have earned $12,000 or more during your "base year." Your base year is determined by the date you filed a claim for benefits. The year is defined as the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters (three-month periods) before you file the claim.
Even if you meet the medical and earnings requirements, your benefits might not be approved or might be reduced in the following situations.
If you aren't sure whether you qualify for TDI, you can contact the Division of Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance at 609-292-7060 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or you can send them an email here.
Your weekly benefit rate (WBR) is calculated by dividing your "base year" earnings by the number of "base weeks" (any week in which you earned more than $240). Your WBR is 85% of this average. For 2022, the most you can get is $993 per week, and part of the payment is taxable. Here's an example:
You filed a claim for disability on June 15, 2022. Your TDI claims examiner will review your wages for the last five completed quarters. Your earnings history is as follows:
Quarters 1-4 are the base year that will be used to calculate your benefits. The total amount you earned during the base year is $34,450. The TDI claims examiner will divide your base year earnings by the number of base weeks you worked (in this example, 52). Your average weekly wage for that period was $662. Taking 85% of your average weekly wage will give you your benefit amount of $562.
You can get benefits for up to 26 weeks. This means that even if your injury or illness lasts more than 26 weeks, your benefits will stop. However, if you suffer a new disabling medical condition and apply for TDI, the 26 weeks will start again.
If you have an illness, injury, pregnancy, or other physical or mental health condition, but you haven't worked recently and/or you're collecting unemployment benefits, you might qualify for Disability During Unemployment (DDU) benefits. DDU is a combination of Temporary Disability and Unemployment Insurance. The benefit amount is calculated similarly to TDI, but you'll receive 60% of your average weekly wage, instead of the 85% allowed under TDI.
You might be eligible for DDU benefits if you became unable to work more than 14 days after you last worked for an employer who pays into the New Jersey TDI program. If you've already been approved for unemployment or family leave benefits, you've already met the earnings requirements to receive DDU. If you haven't, you'll qualify if you've worked for at least 20 weeks earning at least $240 weekly, or if your income for the base year is at least $12,000.
The New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance Law doesn't require employers to hold a job for somebody receiving TDI benefits. However, you might have job protection under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
An easy way to apply for benefits is by submitting your application online. You'll get immediate confirmation when your application has been received. If you don't have reliable internet access, you can download and complete Form DS-1, Claim for Disability Benefits, and mail the form to the Division of Temporary Disability Insurance, P.O. Box 387, Trenton, NJ 08625-0327. You can also fax your application to 609-984-4138.
Make sure that everything you send to the agency has your name and Social Security number on it.
You must file your claim within 30 days from the first day you become disabled. If you file later than this, you will have to show "good cause" for why you didn't file the claim on time. To do this, attach an explanation of why the filing was delayed to your claim form. If you don't show good cause, you may be ineligible for benefits, or your benefits may be reduced.
Note that you can't file your claim before you become disabled, even if you know, for example, the date of the disabling event (like surgery) that will prevent you from working.
You can appeal a decision by the NJ Division of TDI if you think it's wrong. Your appeal must be in writing and contain an explanation of why you disagree with the decision. Your appeal has to be received by or postmarked within seven days of getting your letter of determination, or within ten days from the date the letter was mailed to you. You can mail or fax your appeal or submit it online.
Once your appeal is received, you'll get a letter that advises you of the date, time, and location of your appeal hearing. An Appeal Tribunal examiner will conduct the hearing, and you must be present for it. You don't need an attorney, but you can bring an attorney or a friend or relative with you. The examiner's decision will be sent to you by mail.
If you'd like legal representation at the hearing, contact a disability lawyer in your area.
Updated June 21, 2022