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Disability Dilemma
Penalized For Working Two Jobs


Bonnie in New York is no stranger to Issues Ezine. She has shared problems with us in our first edition. Her frustrations have been created by laws regarding unemployment and disability; while working two jobs. The following is an email correspondence Bonnie has shared with Issues

"I wrote an email to governor Pataki ...
just got a response from someone ...
I'm sending you a copy..."

"Mr. Pataki,
I have a serious problem with our laws regarding unemployment benefits and wasn't sure who to contact so decided that I would start with you."

"I have worked for a company for 21 years, for the last year we have been cut to a 3 day work week because we have very few orders coming in from our customers. The company is in a 'shared work' agreement with the unemployment dept. so that anyone working only 3-days receives unemployment compensation for the 2-days that they don't work."

"Here is the problem ...
They have told me that I am not eligible for this benefit because I also work a second job."

"Sir, I work this second job because I have too in order to keep a roof over my head and food on my table and a car to get to both jobs ...
NOT because I like leaving my house at 6:30 in the morning and not getting back home until 10:00 at night ...
NOT because I like never having time to see my children or spend time with my grandchildren.
I work 2 jobs because I have to too live!!!
By being told that I am not eligible for this unemployment compensation I feel that I am being punished for trying to support myself.

Is there anything that I can do about this? I am not the only person at my place of employment with this same problem.

Thank you very much for your time."


"Your recent correspondence to Governor Pataki regarding the Shared Work program has been forwarded to me for a reply. The Shared Work program, like other programs offered by the Unemployment Division of the Department of Labor, is based on laws passed by the state legislature. The department administers these laws as written. You may wish to contact your state legislator if you feel these laws should be changed."


"Now is another issue ...
disability insurance ...
right now I am off work because I had surgery ... similar problem ...
I filed for disability through both employers ...
I am allowed to receive benefits from both ...BUT ...
Not the normal full amount from both because I am receiving from both policies ...
once again I feel that I am being PUNISHED because I work 2 jobs ..."

From The Off the Job Injury or Illness Pamphlet
Provided By: New York State Workers Compensation Board

Cash benefits are 50 percent of a claimant's average weekly wage, but no more than the maximum benefit allowed. The average weekly wage is based on the last eight weeks of employment. If counting the last week in which the disability began lowers the benefit rate, it is not included in determining average weekly wage. Effective May 1, 1989, the maximum benefit allowance for any disability is $170 a week. Benefits paid by the employer or insurance carrier are subject to Social Security and withholding taxes.

Benefits are paid for a maximum of 26 weeks of disability during 52 consecutive weeks. For employed workers, there is a 7-day waiting period for which no benefits are paid. Benefit rights begin on the eighth consecutive day of disability. For unemployed workers who are receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits and who become disabled more than four weeks (but within 26 weeks) after termination of employment, benefits are payable from the first day of the disability that disqualifies them from receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits. An employer must supply a worker who has been disabled more than seven days with a Statement of Rights under the Disability Benefits Law (form DB-271), within five days of learning that the worker is disabled.

Issues questioned the New York State Insurance Department on Bonnie's Issue, hoping to find some more pertinent information. Unfortunately, the response we obtained was quite similar to the law that is mentioned above:

Response from Debra O'Donoghue of the Disability Benefits Department
"From the last sentence (of the letter Issues sent) I am presuming that Bonnie is collecting NYS Disability, worked two jobs and is only allowed to collect the maximum benefit of $170.00 shared between the two employers disability insurance carriers. That is not determined by the insurance companies - that is NYS Disability Law and the insurance carriers must pay according to the law."

Ms. O'Donoghue has however, passed Bonnie's concerns to others who may be in a position to assist Bonnie further.


As usual Issues urges you, your friends and family to contact your lawmakers concerning the problem.

The New York Assembly Website .

New York Legislature

New York Senate

Use the search engine below
You will be taken directly to your local officials where you will be able to compose or email your problem to the appropriate lawmakers.



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This Page Last Updated: 5/15/2002
C 2002 L Munro