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Do you get paid while on FMLA?

The Family Medical Leave Act requires qualifying employers to hold your job open and continue your group health insurance for twelve weeks. Still, it does not oblige them to extend your regular compensation. Therefore, the direct answer is no.

However, a minority of employees can get paid during FMLA – if they work in a state with mandated benefits or their circumstances meet one of several narrowly defined criteria.

The limited income support options mean that the majority might benefit from financial assistance that reduces expenses during FMLA – because far more people qualify for these programs.

How to Get Paid While on FMLA

There are numerous ways to get paid while on FMLA. However, most people will come up empty. Unless they work in a state with mandated temporary disability or paid family leave programs, bought a private insurance policy, have a COVID-related reason, or suffered an on-the-job accident.

Table Of Contents

FMLA Loan

Request an FMLA loan (Affiliate Link) to help you survive while absent from work. Having the extra funds on hand can keep you from falling behind on your bills while you are not earning money temporarily. One late payment could remain on your consumer report for seven years.

The Family Medical Leave Act provides up to twelve weeks of job and health insurance legal protections. The employment security makes it viable to repay the lender after returning to work. Without these assurances, borrowing money is not a good idea.

State Programs

Your state could pay you during FMLA, depending on your work location and your eligibility for each possible program. While hit or miss, the initiatives will remain in force in 2021 and beyond after the Coronavirus pandemic goes away – if ever.

Temporary Disability

State-based temporary disability programs might replace a portion of your salary during FMLA for people unable to work due to a qualifying medical condition that occurs off-the-job (non-occupational).

An employee’s disabling health condition is an eligible reason under the federal Family Medical Leave Act. However, only seven states have a mandatory insurance program covering temporary disabilities for workers in private industry.

  1. California
  2. Hawaii
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New Jersey
  5. New York
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Washington

Paid Family Leave

State-based Paid Family Leave programs could replace a percentage of your income during FMLA if you need to care for a sick or injured family member.

The care of a family member with a serious medical condition is a qualifying reason under the federal Family Medical Leave Act. However, only eight states have existing or pending programs providing paid family leave to caregivers.

  1. California
  2. Colorado (approved by voters during 2020 election)
  3. Connecticut (beginning 2021)
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New Jersey
  6. New York
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Washington

Unemployment Benefits

Attempting to file a claim for unemployment benefits while on FMLA is never a viable income support path. The federal Family Medical Leave Act provides job security for twelve weeks, which means that you remain employed and ineligible for compensation.

However, drawing unemployment after FMLA runs out after twelve weeks becomes a possibility if you lose your job, and you can work, and you are available for duty. Each state makes rules about good cause reasons for termination.

  1. An employee’s own disabling health condition qualifies in 6 states
  2. Care of a seriously sick or injured family member qualifies in 22 states

Also, the qualifying reasons for the job-protected time off from work automatically disqualify you from collecting unemployment. Each state has these two universal requirements that conflict directly.

  1. Physically able to work (not disabled)
  2. Available for employment (not caring for a sick family member)

Workers Compensation

Filing a Workers Compensation claim is another way to receive a portion of your prior earnings during FMLA if you hurt yourself while working on the job or contracted an illness related to your occupation. 

The federal Family Medical Leave Act provides workers who suffer occupational disabilities with twelve weeks of job protections. Meanwhile, state-mandated Workers Compensation includes wage replacement along with other benefits.

File a claim with the Workers Compensation company chosen by your employer. The two benefits would run concurrently (job security and wage replacement).

Private Disability Pay

You can get disability pay while on FMLA from a private insurance company provided you have a policy in force and must stop working for a covered medical reason.

Short-term disability insurance and the Family Medical Leave Act often fit together like a hand and glove – with critical distinctions.

  • Short-term disability is an insurance program that provides income support when a covered policyholder cannot perform work duties
  • FMLA is a federal law that provides legal job and health insurance protections for eligible employees of covered employers

You will need to file a claim with the private insurance company that issued the policy. Since you made premium payments in advance, it makes sense to take advantage of these benefits when needed.

Coronavirus Emergency

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a viable way for some people to get paid while on FMLA during 2020. However, this temporary federal law’s provisions expire at the end of the year and do not extend into 2021.

Plus, the amount of money you might receive is restricted. The FFCRA requires certain employers to provide paid time off for specific COVID-19-related reasons.

  • Two weeks (80 hours) at if quarantined or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
    • 100% of salary
    • $511 maximum per day
    • $5,110 limit over two weeks
  • Two weeks (80 hours) because the employee must care for a family member for a bonafide reason: individual subject to quarantine, or child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable
    • 67% of salary
    • $200 maximum per day
    • $2,000 limit over two weeks
  • Additional ten weeks (400 hours) for workers with at least 30 consecutive calendar days of employment
    • 67% of salary
    • $200 maximum per day
    • $12,000 limit over twelve weeks

Financial Help during FMLA

Several financial assistance programs sponsored by the federal government and private companies can help you reduce expenses while on FMLA. Since the Family Medical Leave Act provides unpaid time off from work, cutting everyday bills becomes a priority for affected individuals.

Food Stamps

People can sometimes qualify for Food Stamps during FMLA. This form of government-sponsored financial assistance helps reduce what you spend on groceries – a big part of any budget.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition support to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. Since the Family Medical Leave Act does not require wage replacement, it becomes easier to meet the earnings standards.

Federal and state governments jointly manage the SNAP program. You must apply to your local state office to determine food stamps eligibility and meet these criteria.

  • Income amounts
  • Household size
  • Living expenses
  • Work requirements

The SNAP work requirement disqualifies anyone who voluntarily reduces their hours. However, the rules provide special considerations for pregnant women and exempt people with physical or mental health limitations. Unfortunately, the guidelines do not address non-disabled caregivers.

Health Insurance

The federal government provides financial assistance with health insurance premiums during and after FMLA. The Family Medical Leave Act requires employers to continue group medical benefits for affected employees on the same terms as before.

This requirement has two critical implications, while the legal protections remain.

  1. Employers must continue paying the same share of premium costs
  2. Employees need to pay the remaining premiums using after-tax dollars since payroll deductions no longer apply. However, the costs qualify as a deductible expense for families that itemize.

Then, the government supports kick in to help make medical insurance more affordable after the continuation requirement expires – and your employer cancels coverage. Loss of health insurance is a qualifying life event, meaning you can get a new plan right away.

  1. Medicaid provides immediate health insurance coverage at little or no cost to low-income families that meet state-specific guidelines.
  2. Two types of subsidies make private medical insurance more affordable for families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid.
    • Premium subsidies lower the cost of buying the coverage
    • Cost-sharing subsidies reduce unreimbursed medical expenses

Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation programs available through private companies can provide financial assistance during and after FMLA. Since the Family Medical Leave Act does not require income support, many households face monetary hardship and need help cutting expenses.

The combination of lost income and extra medical and childcare bills places many families in a budgetary bind. Two types of debt consolidation might help ease the pressure by lowering monthly costs.

  1. Debt settlement programs divert payments to creditors into an escrow account. Then the company negotiates a trade of immediate partial payment in exchange for forgiveness of the remaining balance owed.
  2. Debt consolidation loans lower the monthly payments on existing obligations by extending the repayment terms and or by reducing the interest rate.