Rhode Island Short-Term Disability and Pregnancy

Rhode Island has a temporary disability insurance program (TDI) and a paid family leave program (TCI).

By , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Rhode Island is one of the few states that provide temporary disability insurance (TDI) and temporary caregiver insurance (TCI) through a state-run program. Employees fund the programs through paycheck withholding (a 1.1% employee wage deduction, up to a certain amount). The earnings requirements and benefit amounts are the same for both programs.

What Are Rhode Island TDI Benefits?

In 1942, Rhode Island became the first state in the United States to mandate temporary disability benefits (also called short-term disability) for workers. Only a few other states ensure that workers have TDI coverage (including California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York).

Under the Rhode Island TDI program, employees who are unable to work due to a temporary disability, including pregnancy, are eligible for partial wage replacement. Employees who can't work because of an on-the-job illness or injury must collect benefits through the state's workers' compensation program instead.

What Is the TCI Program in Rhode Island?

In 2013, Rhode Island added the temporary caregiver insurance (TCI) program, which pays benefits to workers for up to five weeks of parenting leave (or to care for a seriously ill or injured family member).

Rhode Island's TCI parenting benefits (also called family leave benefits) allow you to take time to bond with a new baby, an adopted child, or a foster-care child. You can only get TCI parenting benefits during the first year after your child's birth or the first 12 months of parenting (in the case of an adopted or fostered child).

How to Qualify for Rhode Island TDI and TCI Benefits

To qualify for TDI or TCI benefits, you must meet the medical and financial requirements.

Qualifying for TDI or TCI Medically

For TDI benefits, your healthcare provider must certify that you're unable to work due to disability (including pregnancy).

For TCI benefits, you have to provide proof of parenthood (or medical information for the family member who needs your care).

Qualifying for TDI or TCI Financially

There are two alternate salary requirements to qualify for either TDI or TCI benefits in Rhode Island. Your eligibility (and how much you can get) is based on how much you earned during your base period.

Whether you're applying for TDI or TCI benefits, your base period is a one-year period that includes the first four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your claim. In Rhode Island, the calendar quarters each year are as follows:

  • January 1-March 31
  • April 1-June 30
  • July 1-September 30, and
  • October 1-December 31.

For example, if you file for TDI or TCI benefits in August 2023, your base period would include the last three quarters of 2022 (April 1-June 30, July 1- September 30, and October 1-December 30) plus the first quarter of 2023 (January 1-March 31).

To be eligible for benefits you must have earned wages in Rhode Island and paid into the TDI/TCI fund and either:

  • earned at least $14,700 during your base period, or
  • met all of the following conditions:
    • you earned at least $2,450 in one of the quarters of the base period
    • you earned at least $4,900 in taxable wages during the entire base period, and
    • your total taxable earnings during the base period are at least one-and-a-half times your wages in the highest quarter of the base period.

If you don't qualify under the first base period, above, Rhode Island will consider your earnings under an alternate base period—the last four complete calendar quarters, which counts your most recent income. In the example above, that would be the last two quarters of 2022 (July 1- September 30 and October 1-December 30) and the first two quarters of 2023 (January 1-March 31 and April 1-June 30).

How Much TDI or TCI Benefits Can I Get and for How Long?

Your weekly benefits will be 4.62% of your wages during your highest-paid quarter during the base period. The minimum weekly TDI benefit is $114, and the maximum is $1,007 per week. (These amounts went into effect in 2022; they change periodically.)

You can get TDI benefits for a maximum of 30 weeks. But the number of weeks for which you can collect TDI benefits depends on your base period earnings and weekly benefit amount. Rhode Island's TDI formula for total benefits that can be paid out is 36% of your total base period wages. This amount is divided by your weekly benefit rate (not including a dependent allowance) to get the number of weeks.

So, let's say you earned $42,000 during your one-year base period and your weekly benefit rate is $560. You could receive TDI benefits for up to 27 weeks because 36% of $42,000 is $15,120. And $15,120 divided by $560 is 27.

No matter what your base wages or weekly benefit amount, the maximum length of time you can receive TDI benefits in Rhode Island is 30 weeks. And you can get TCI (temporary caregiver insurance) benefits for up to five weeks.

What's the Process of Getting TDI and TCI Benefits?

You begin the process of getting TDI or TCI benefits by submitting a claim to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. You can file claims for both TDI or TCI online at Rhode Island's Temporary Disability Insurance program website, or print the application to complete and return by mail. You can also use the website to check the status of your claim.

If you're living outside the United States or don't want to file your application online, you can request an application be sent to you by mail by calling 401-462-8420. Fill out the application and mail it promptly.

You'll need to provide the following information on your application:

  • your full name, address, and telephone number
  • your Social Security number (SSN), and
  • the date you were first unable to work due to your non-work-related disability.

Is There a Waiting Period for TDI or TCI Benefits?

You can't get TDI benefits unless you're going to miss more than seven days of work. But you will get paid for those seven days. However, it generally takes three to four weeks to get your payments started.

You should file your claim as soon as possible, or you risk losing or delaying your first benefit payment. All Rhode Island TDI claims must be filed within 90 days of the first week you were out of work due to your illness or injury.

For Rhode Island TCI benefits, you must file your application within 30 days after your first day of leave. If you're a new mother who was receiving TDI while pregnant, you can apply for TCI benefits once you've been released from doctor's care as "fully recuperated" (meaning your period of disability is over), but not before then.

If You Need a Lawyer

If you believe that you were improperly denied TDI or TCI benefits, or that your employer has mistreated you because of your pregnancy, disability, or parental responsibilities you might want to consult with an experienced employment lawyer.

(Learn more about your rights under Rhode Island's Parental and Family Medical Leave Act.)

Updated October 21, 2022

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