RHODE ISLAND – Those who’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19 – either forced to stay home for self-quarantine reasons, or their workplace has temporarily closed – may be able to file for assistance through state programs. 

Temporary Disability Insurance

For those who are unable to work, but their place of employment remains open at this time, you may be eligible for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), according to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. Applicants are instructed to clearly indicate that they’ve been impacted by COVID-19. 

Those who fall into this category may also be eligible for additional benefits to help care for themselves or a family member that has been impacted through Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI). The program allows Rhode Islanders to collect for a maximum of four weeks to help care for “a seriously ill child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, or grandparent,” or “bond with a newborn child, adopted child or foster-care child” during the first year of parenting. 

During this time, the Department of Labor and Training will be waiving the seven-day minimum amount of time that claimants must be out of work to qualify for TDI/TCI benefits. The department will also be waiving the required medical certification, and instead will allow individuals to temporarily qualify via self-attestation that they were under quarantine due to COVID-19.

Unemployment Insurance 

Those who are unable to work because their place of business has closed, or because they were instructed to stay home by their employer, may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI). 

COVID-related UI claims are processed faster and can be more generous than TDI/TCI if you are out of work due to COVID-19, according to the Department of Labor and Training.

The seven-day waiting period will also be waived for UI claims related to COVID-19. Applicants may apply online or by calling (401) 243-9100.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that unemployment claims in the Ocean State are “skyrocketing.” More than 10,000 Rhode Islanders have filed for UI or TDI because of the pandemic. 

Other Types of Assistance

Due to economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic, the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (UPC) has issued an emergency order mandating that all regulated utilities not terminate services at this time.

The state has also directed utilities to stop sending past due accounts to collection agencies and is encouraging non-regulated utilities to do the same.

Many schools and non-profit organizations are working to provide meals to school-age children during this time. For the past week, students have remained home from school to help further prevent the spread of the virus. One week out of the classroom has now turned into three, however, and communities are working to help students who may often rely on the public school system for breakfast and lunch. 

The Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale has been working to provide meals to school-age children in South Kingstown and Narragansett during this time, and as of Wednesday night, has provided school meals to 260 children.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale has also assisted 80 households, totaling 210 individuals. Since Monday, the community food bank has helped put food on the table for 470 individuals. 

Director Kate Brewster expressed her thanks to the many volunteers and generous donors that helped make this possible via a Facebook post from the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale.

“There is no way we could have done this without your donations of food and funds,” she wrote. “I want to thank our existing and new volunteers who are the true community heroes. They are showing up and staying for hours and hours, despite the risk. Thank you to the restaurants and retailers like Bagelz The Bagel Bakery, Belmont Market, The Flatts, and Back 40 who are providing ongoing and one-time donations, and feeding our volunteers.”

Brewster also expressed thanks to those who have flooded the community foodbank with donations, providing the funds to feed those who are out of work at this time. 

For those who are temporarily out of work at this time, Brewster stressed that “there is no shame in getting a few extra groceries in a crisis.”

“In a community full of hospitality workers and fishermen whose restaurants and fish houses are closing - and we met many of them today - please know we are here for you,” she wrote. 

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