PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – As new cases of COVID-19 increase in Rhode Island – pushing more people into quarantine and out of work – so too are claims for temporary disability insurance.
Matt Weldon, director of RI’s labor and training department, said claims for TDI and temporary caregiver insurance have averaged 900 claims per week in recent months. But over the past month, those numbers have multiplied.
“Since November we’ve been climbing every week a bit at a time,” Weldon said. “Last week we had around 1,600 complaints. “
“It’s pretty busy right now,” he added.
According to DLT data, there were 1,450 new TDI and TCI claims the week ending December 4, 1,593 the week ending December 11, and 1,626 last week. Weldon said the increase in claims reflects the surge in coronavirus cases and the end of federal unemployment benefits.
Typically, TDI benefits represent about 60% of an individual’s income up to a cap of just under $ 1,000 per week. TDI services are not taxable, while TCI services are.
“We had the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program that was created by the federal government to provide unemployment benefits to people affected by COVID,” Weldon said. “It expired that first weekend in September.
“Since then, people who have been directly affected by COVID – that is to say they have COVID or they have to quarantine themselves – have not been eligible for unemployment,” he said. he adds. “So people applied for the TDI. “
This is the case of Katherin Ciociola. She contacted 12 responses on WPRI.com with a question after seeing that the TDI app requires “that you be physically examined by a qualified health care provider,” according to the online complaints portal.
“On the app, it asks you for information about the doctor,” said Ciociola, who has recently started to feel sick and is expected to be tested on Tuesday. “If you just go to a test site, you wouldn’t have this.”
Ciociola works from home, so her income would likely not be affected. But her boyfriend doesn’t have that option, and with two children, she worries about the impact on their income if he gets sick or has to stay home and take time off from work.
“If he needs to isolate or quarantine, how are we going to pay our bills, buy food for our family,” she said. “We’re just trying to plan ahead.”
Earlier in the pandemic, former governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive decree that waived the doctor’s note requirement, but has since expired. Weldon said that for the first week of benefits, however, the claimant does not need to provide medical certification.
“All they need is some sort of documentation, ie an email from the Department of Health or a test result,” Weldon said. “We would accept that.”
Right now, a doctor’s note would be required after the first week of benefits, but Weldon said he would soon extend it to two weeks as health officials recommend people quarantine themselves for 10 days when they test positive.