Do I qualify for state or federal disability benefits?


Q. I went out on workers comp May of 2020. Workers comp closed my case in January 2021. At that point I collected unemployment because my employer laid me off. Now I have a back injury. What’s available to me: temporary disability from New Jersey or the federal government or is there any other resource considering that the last time I was actively employed was May of 2020?
—  Unsure

A. We’re sorry to hear about your injuries.

And we’re glad you asked as these programs can be complicated and very specific to a person’s situation.

Because your Worker’s Compensation case was closed in January 2021, it is unlikely that you are eligible for New Jersey temporary disability insurance benefits, said Cynthia Aiken, a certified financial planner with Peapack Private Wealth Management in Bedminster.

She said to qualify for New Jersey temporary disability in early 2022, you must have worked a minimum of 20 weeks earning at least $240 weekly or a combined total of $12,000 in the period from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. It sounds as though you were not employed during that period, Aiken said.

However, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

“The SSDI program pays benefits if you worked long enough, recently enough and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings,” Aiken said. “To be eligible for benefits, your medical condition must meet the Social Security’s definition of a disability and be expected to prevent you from working for at least twelve months.”

No benefits are paid for partial disability or short-term disability, she said.

The requirements to qualify depend upon your age, income history and other factors, so check the Social Security website to learn more about the specific details.

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This story was originally published on Feb. 19, 2022. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.