COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — A local mother who consistently struggles to take care of her son now has hope due to new legislation that allows residents to care for sick loved ones without worrying about paying their bills.
On Thursday, Governor Chafee signed the Temporary Disability Insurance (TCI) expansion bill which made Rhode Island the third state nationwide to offer this type of insurance plan.
Coventry resident Tammy Russo cares for her 20-year-old autistic son who causes her to miss weeks of work without pay. Though her oldest son is an adult, Russo said he is cognitively between the ages of four and seven.
The new bill that will help Tammy allows up to four weeks of leave at 2/3 of their regular wages to care for an ailing family member. TCI is an expansion of Rhode Island’s temporary disability insurance and will be funded through paycheck deductions.
Senator Gayle Goldin who sponsored the legislation said around 78% of the workforce in Rhode Island will qualify for the program, while public sector employees do not because they do not pay into the temporary disability system.
The benefit would amount to 66 percent of an employee’s regular paycheck, but it is capped for anyone who makes more than $61,400 annually.
Tammy told Eyewitness News that Joey frequently has seizures and his condition worsened last fall and she had to take 10-weeks off from work to help care for her son at Rhode Island Hospital.
“I won’t have to wonder about how we’re paying the bills when or if he has to be hospitalized again,” she said.
Not only does the bill benefit families like Tammy’s but also covers parents of newly adopted or foster children.
“That is just going to mean so many benefits to so many children and families,” said Tammy.
The insurance will be available on January 1, 2014.