LRRC: COVID-19 Government Job-related Coverage and Community Crisis Resources

The LRRC is open and available to answer any questions you may have during this difficult time. If you find yourself struggling to afford necessities such as healthcare and food, please do not hesitate to reach out to us so we can connect you with all available government and private assistance.

To schedule a phone appointment with a caseworker to discuss your personal situation, please call us any time at (732) 942-9292. You can also e-mail us at [email protected]

As always, our current program literature, recent announcements, and helpful links are posted on our website www.lrrcenter.org.

JOB-RELATED COVERAGE FOR COVID-19

There are several government assistance programs available to you if you are experiencing a change in your ability to work due to COVID-19. Information is changing rapidly, and the details below are current as of the morning of March 23rd. We will send out updates as the situation changes.

Tax-Related Provisions from the Federal Government

The federal government created an emergency assistance program to help employers continue to pay their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two broad types of assistance available – (1) paid sick leave for employees who are sick or seeking a diagnosis and (2) paid family leave for those unable to work due to childcare or other medical reasons. Each program has its own requirements and qualifying conditions. In both cases, employers must lay out the wages and will be reimbursed fully through payroll taxes. There is also a refundable income tax credit for self-employed individuals. The details are still being finalized, and there are many rules and exemptions.

If you are an employee, we encourage you to talk to your employer to find out if you are covered by this leave.

If you are an employer, we encourage you to speak to your tax and business consultant or to schedule an appointment with an LRRC caseworker to learn about these rules and to take advantage of these programs to help your employees get through this difficult time.

If you are self-employed, there is a refundable income tax credit that may help you.

The paid sick leave will provide 100% of wages up to $511/day for 10 days for someone who is sick themselves, and 67% of wages up to $200/day for someone caring for another individual who is ill.

The paid family leave will provide 67% of wages up to $200/day for 12 weeks for someone who is home caring for a child whose school is closed. The first 10 days are unpaid, but the employee can overlap with 10 days of paid sick leave.

Earned Sick Leave and Worker’s Compensation

Earned Sick Leave: Effective October 2018, all NJ employers must provide Earned Sick Leave to their employees. An employee can accrue 1 hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to 40 hours per year. Earned sick leave accrued may be used for many situations associated with the current pandemic. These situations include someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, an employee who was exposed and quarantined, an employee that does not want to work because he is afraid of getting the virus, and a worker who is unable to work because of school or daycare closure.

Worker’s Compensation: A healthcare worker that was exposed to the virus at work and is now self-quarantined should apply for worker’s compensation. This applies to healthcare workers only.

Temporary Disability/Family Leave Insurance

People in the following situations are eligible for temporary disability and/or family leave insurance:

A person who has COVID-19, or symptoms of COVID-19
Workers who were exposed and quarantined and their companies remain open
Workers who are immune-compromised and advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine
A health care worker exposed at work and self-quarantined
A worker who is caring for a sick family member

You can apply online at https://myleavebenefits.nj.gov/

Family Leave Insurance is different than the new Family Leave benefit being worked out by the federal government. Family Leave Insurance is processed through the NJ State disability system, and the new Family Leave benefit is paid directly by employers and reimbursed by the Federal Government (see item #1 above).

To qualify, you must have either earned $10,000 or worked at least 20 weeks, earning a minimum of $200 per week during your base year. Your weekly benefit amount will be two-thirds of your average weekly earnings during your base year period. The maximum weekly benefit amount for Jan 1 – June 30, 2020, is $667. For claims dated after July 1, 2020, the benefit rate increases to 85% up to a maximum weekly benefit of $881.

You can receive Temporary Disability Insurance for up to 6 months (26 weeks) for every 12 month period. If you expect your disability to last longer than 12 months, you may qualify for SSI. There is an option of applying for disability during unemployment.

You can receive up to 6 weeks (42 days) of Family Leave Insurance for every12 month period. The 12-month period begins on the first day that family leave is taken. For claims dated after July 1, 2020, you can receive up to 12 consecutive weeks of Family Leave Insurance or 56 intermittent days. You can also take Family Leave Insurance to bond with a child up until the child’s first birthday.

For both of these programs, you will need a letter from a doctor as proof of disability. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, we recommend calling your doctor to discuss your symptoms to help establish a chain of evidence testifying to your inability to work.

For more information about the Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance changes taking effect on July 1st, click here: https://www.lrrcenter.org/public/news/fmli_updates-20200312

Unemployment Insurance

People in the following situations are eligible for unemployment insurance:

A person who is out of work because their employer voluntarily closed, including an employee who was put on furlough
Workers who were exposed and quarantined and their companies remain open.
A person who is out of work because their employer was ordered closed
A worker who has fewer work hours available due to business slow down or lack of demand

You can apply online at https://myunemployment.nj.gov/

If you are in one of the above situations, we recommend that you apply for unemployment right away to get retroactive benefits. Since the website is limited and volume is high, we also recommend taking screenshots and saving proof of your application to ensure that you receive retroactive benefits.

Do not apply for unemployment until you are sure your employer has laid you off. Speak to your employer – they may be able to get assistance to stay open, and you may be able to stay on payroll and collect the new Federal Family Leave (see item #1 above).

Unemployment Insurance lasts for 26 weeks. Your weekly benefit rate is 60% of your average weekly earnings during your base year period. The maximum weekly benefit amount for 2020 is $713.

Your weekly benefit amount could increase by up to 15% because of dependency benefits. Dependency benefits are only available if your spouse is not employed during the week you establish your claim. It offers an extra 7% for the first dependent and an additional 4% for each of the next two dependents. A dependent can be an unemployed spouse or an unmarried child under the age of 19. An unmarried child who is a full-time student is considered a dependent as long as he/she is younger than 22. Even if you are eligible for dependency benefits, the weekly benefit amount will never exceed $713. To receive dependency benefits, you will need to mail in proof of dependents within 6 weeks of filing your claim. You can submit a copy of your most recent federal or state tax return as proof of dependents.

Dependency benefit forms are available on our website: Unemployment Benefits Application

If you receive health insurance from your employer and are planning to file for unemployment, clarify with them if COBRA is an option and how much it will cost you.

[Press Release]

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