Financial assistance options while on 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 time off without pay. These alternatives are available nationwide but often require advance action – or a good credit score.
Government benefits offer more attractive ways to get paid or deal with bill payments. However, these alternatives apply only to people working in specific regions or who meet stringent income-based requirements.
Luckily, lost wages help you meet income eligibility rules.
Getting Paid During Maternity Leave
We begin by exploring the more obvious forms of financial assistance: ways to get paid while on maternity leave. Since many new parents must take time off from work without monetary compensation, it makes sense to identify ways to survive by replacing lost earnings.
Request a maternity leave loan (Sponsored Link) to get some emergency money during your unpaid time away from work. Many parents with a good credit score and or who can verify employment and earnings qualify for this type of financial support.
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, and verify that your employer will hold your job open before borrowing money.
Many state governments mandate programs that help you get paid while on maternity leave. However, the level of financial assistance varies widely by region because each state determines what to offer parents.
State-government temporary disability replaces a portion of income during three common maternity leave scenarios. Two of these situations can extend your unpaid time off significantly.
You can file a claim for benefits if your state offers the program, and one or more of these qualifying events prevents you from performing your work duties.
- Pregnancy disability before your due date
- Recovery from labor and delivery
- Postpartum medical and mental disorders
However, only seven states have a temporary disability program: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington. You are out of luck if you work in one of the remaining forty-three.
Paid Family Leave
State-government paid family leave programs replace a portion of wages lost while on an unpaid absence from work. File a claim for this form of financial help if you work in one of the regions that offer the support and experience one of these qualifying events.
- 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
However, only six states provide paid family leave to workers in private industry: California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington. You are out of luck if you work in one of the remaining forty-four.
State-government unemployment compensation might provide partial income replacement after your extended maternity leave concludes. You can file a claim for the support benefits in narrowly defined circumstances.
Universal rules exclude this funding source during the time that FMLA protects your job, and while mom is recovering from childbirth or caring for her newborn.
- Terminated from your job
- Physically able to work
- Available for duty
- Actively seeking new employment
Furthermore, each state sets unemployment compensation rules regarding “good cause reasons” to quit or lose your job because of extended time off.
- An employee’s disability qualifies in only six states
- Care of a sick family member makes you eligible more frequently
The federal government does not provide grants to individuals, which would be ideal for getting paid while on maternity leave. Instead, the federal grant money flows to universities, state agencies, and non-profit charities to boost the economy and advance social causes.
However, some private organizations self-fund grants for a tiny handful of new parents. If you fit the narrow criteria established by these entities, it could make your unpaid time off more affordable.
- The Dove Care grant has a $1 million fund to deliver $5,000 to expectant fathers over two years – or 50 new dads annually
- The Mom Economy extends $1,000 to $3,000 grants to female small business owners with less than ten employees
Paying Bills during Maternity Leave
We move on to explore the second form of financial assistance for maternity leave: ways to get help paying bills. Bringing a new baby into the world introduces a bevy of further expenses, making it challenging to make ends meet.
Remember that many public programs are means-tested (income-based). Therefore, unpaid time off improves eligibility for some of these options but has the opposite effect on tax-saving opportunities.
Several government welfare programs such as Food Stamps can help pay bills during unpaid maternity leave and beyond. Your lack of earnings makes it easier to qualify for these income-based supports. Plus, pregnant women enjoy special considerations.
- Food Stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance)
- Women Infants & Children (WIC)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Two types of debt consolidation programs can provide help paying your bills during and after maternity leave. Choose the alternative that promises the highest level of financial assistance, given your specific circumstances.
Debt consolidation loans can lower the monthly payments for existing obligations such as credit cards. You combine multiple accounts into one and reduce the amount owed each period in two possible ways.
- Better interest rates
- Longer repayment terms
Debt settlement programs might reduce the owed on unsecured obligations. You stop payment to creditors to fund an escrow account, which signals hardship and facilitates the negotiations.
The federal government may provide help paying your health insurance premiums during and after maternity leave. This form of financial assistance is crucial because pregnant mothers and new babies need good medical care.
Unfortunately, many mothers lose coverage during an extended work absence after FMLA expires. Or, she is not eligible for FMLA legal protections at all – like about half of the U.S. working population.
Fortunately, the loss of health insurance is a qualifying life event, which means you can buy new coverage immediately without a waiting period for pre-existing pregnancy. Two income-based subsidies could lower your costs.
- Premium subsidies make buying coverage cheaper
- Cost-sharing subsidies reduce unreimbursed medical expenses
The IRS provides three vehicles that can provide help paying your bills during and after maternity leave. This form of financial support offers tax breaks on the extra medical and child care expenses incurred during pregnancy and childbirth.
- Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts provide first dollar tax savings (income and FICA) for predictable ongoing medical expenditures such as prescription drugs, prenatal care, birthing classes, diagnostic testing, pediatric visits, etc.
- Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts offer more significant tax savings for your infant’s daycare costs that could exceed the Child Care Tax Credit.
- Medical and dental expense deductions using Schedule A offer savings for large unexpected charges such as balance billing from out-of-network anesthesiologists and perinatal specialists.
Financial assistance while on unpaid maternity leave requires that you look for ways to replace earnings and reduce your everyday bills. Unfortunately, no single resource ensures survival.
State government programs such as temporary disability, paid family leave, and unemployment compensation are ideal – but missing in most regions of the country.
Meanwhile, your lost earnings help you qualify for initiatives with income-based eligibility criteria that could lower your cost of living. Government subsidies for health insurance, groceries, and utilities might make your remaining dollars stretch further.