The options for financial assistance while on an unpaid maternity leave require creativity, an open mind, timely action, and a lucky work location.

The private sector offers ways for new parents to afford the time off without pay. These alternatives are available nationwide but often require advance action – or a good credit score.

Government benefits offer the most cost-effective financial help. However, these alternatives apply only to people working in specific regions or who meet stringent income-based requirements.

  • Private options: loans, debt settlement, disability insurance, side job
  • Public alternatives: filing unemployment, state paid leave, help with expenses

Private Options to Get Paid during Maternity Leave

The private options to get paid during maternity leave can help more parents survive the time off with one less income. People can take matters into their own hands. These alternatives do not depend on the laws in the region where you work – which benefits the majority of families in the USA.

 44 states do not provide any form of monetary help during an unpaid maternity leave!  

If you work outside of the lucky six states (CA, HI, NJ, NY, RI, and WA) these private programs could be your only opportunity to find help with your affairs.

Maternity Leave Loan

Request a maternity leave loan to get money during your unpaid time away from work. Many parents with a good credit score and/or who can verify employment and earnings qualify to borrow money. Spend more time bonding with your baby without worrying about the bills.

Plan the repayment phase carefully. The first monthly installment will be due roughly six weeks after the initial disbursement. Set funds aside from your budget to meet this obligation. Verify that your employer will hold your job open before taking out a loan.

Help With Bills

Debt consolidation programs can offer financial help with bills during and after an unpaid maternity leave. Many new parents bring a baby into the world along with extra hospital and doctor bills. Then they face added expenses for infant formula, clothing, and perhaps baby furniture.

In addition, the regular expenses keep coming in. Two types of consolidation programs offer assistance with many of these bills.

  • Debt relief companies negotiate with creditors to reach a settlement
  • Consolidation loans lower monthly payments by extending repayment terms

Short-Term Disability

Using short-term disability for maternity leave sometimes works to provide partial income replacement. These private insurance policies may cover mom’s time off from work in three scenarios.

  1. Pregnancy complications before birth
  2. Recovery from labor and delivery
  3. Postpartum medical complications

Unfortunately, most new mothers will not be able to take advantage. You must purchase the coverage prior to conception. New policies contain a 12-month exclusion for pre-existing conditions.

Making Money

Making extra money while on an unpaid maternity leave can help parents survive with one less income. However, many of these options require mom to begin the process in advance. Things take time and a work-at-home side hustle does not bear fruit right away.

Get started on these online moneymaking ideas long before mom needs to stop working.

  • Start a blog about being a mother
  • Become a virtual assistant
  • Perform freelance services
    • Editing
    • Writing
    • Graphic design
  • Social media marketing
  • Take online surveys

Government Financial Assistance during Maternity Leave

New parents can sometimes look to government-based financial assistance during maternity leave. Federal laws apply nationwide but only offer unpaid legal job and insurance protections lasting up to 12 weeks. State rules pertain only to people who work in their jurisdictions.

Most families will find help only on the expense side of the equation.

Unemployment Compensation

Collecting unemployment compensation while on an unpaid maternity leave rarely works as a source of government financial assistance. Universal rules exclude this source of funding during the time that mom is recovering from childbirth, and while she is caring for her newborn.

  1. Physically able to work
  2. Available for work
  3. Actively seeking new employment

Some parents may be eligible for unemployment benefits after their maternity leave ends – if they quit or lost their job for a good cause reason. Roughly, 22 states have expanded legal good cause definitions that fit this scenario.

  • Mothers pregnancy-related disability
  • Care of a family member with a serious medical condition
    • Mom suffering pregnancy complications
    • Premature or sick infant requiring care at home

States with Paid Leave

States with paid maternity leave are the primary form of government-based financial assistance. However, only a small number have laws mandating this popular benefit.

These entitlements come in two forms and cover unique situations.

  1. Mothers own disabling medical condition
  2. Bonding with a newborn baby, adoptive or foster child
  3. Care of seriously sick family member

Paid Family Leave

Only five state governments have mandatory paid family leave that covers mom and/or dad when they take time off from work. These programs offer partial income replacement under these common scenarios.

  • Bonding with a newborn baby or adoptive child
  • Placement of foster child into the home
  • Husband caring for wife suffering pregnancy complications
  • Caring for a premature or sick infant at home

The maximum amount and length of time vary.

CaliforniaNew JerseyNew York
Rhode IslandWashington

Temporary Disability

Only five state governments have a mandatory temporary disability that covers the mother during the times when she is physically unable to work. These programs offer paid maternity leave benefits under these three common scenarios.

  1. Stops working before delivery for pregnancy complications
  2. Takes 6 to 8 weeks to recover from childbirth (labor and delivery)
  3. Postpartum medical complications delay her return to work

The maximum amount and length of time vary.

CaliforniaHawaiiNew Jersey
New YorkRhode Island

Help With Expenses

The federal government has a number of entitlements that provide help lowering expenses. Parents need to watch every penny during an unpaid maternity leave. Therefore, tap into these cost-saving entitlements if you qualify.

Remember that many public programs are means tested (income-based). Lost income during your time off improves eligibility for some of these options and has the opposite effect on taxation.

Single mothers frequently qualify because their household has only one income.

Health Insurance

The federal government may subsidize your healthcare costs while on maternity leave and after. Paying insurance premiums without mom’s income can be very difficult. Maintaining coverage is critical to a hospital stay on the horizon, or with a sick infant at home.

Loss of health insurance is a qualifying life event and quite common for parents without FMLA legal protections. FMLA does not cover small businesses with less than 50 employees.

  • A qualifying life event enables you to buy coverage outside of the annual open enrollment
  • Income-based subsidies lower premium and cost-sharing expenses
  • Medicaid may cover three months retroactively for low-income pregnant women

Temporary Aid

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Food Stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) are federal government programs that parents can tap into while away from the job. An extended unpaid maternity leave actually may improve your qualifications for these income-based entitlements.

Pregnant women enjoy special considerations.

Tax Savings

Both federal and state governments offer tax saving opportunities to new parents. Many expenses that occur during maternity leave and after qualify as tax deductions. Speak with your accountant about using a Flexible Spending Account and/or Schedule A for some of these common situations.

  • Hospital bills from labor and delivery
  • NICU charges for sick infant
  • Breast pumps
  • Childcare expenses
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