As the economy continues to recover from the shutdowns forced by the pandemic, the U.S. is facing inflation rates like those we haven’t seen since the late 1970s. At last report, the inflation rate was 7.5%, with increases this monthly largely driven by oil and fuel prices. Higher energy costs affect the price of virtually everything else, as it costs more to move goods through the country. Whether you follow the news closely or not, you’ll probably seen the increases not just at gas pumps but at grocery stores and other retailers.

But for New York business owners and their employees, one number has not gone up in recent years: The amount you’ll receive if you have to claim short-term NYS disability benefits. The rate that claimants with an off-the-job illness or injury can receive in NYS disability benefits tops out at just $170 per week for 26 weeks. That rate has not increased since 1989, when Governor Mario Cuomo was in office.

It’s Not the 1980s – But It May Feel Like It

It’s worth noting that 1989 followed an inflationary era in the U.S.

Cuomo’s NYS disability benefits increase may have been “too little, too late,” even then. New Yorkers at the time were struggling with high prices and high interest rates. Those high interest rates made it painful – or impossible – for New Yorkers who lost income due to illness or injury to make ends meet by tapping into investments or by borrowing money. They would have been forced to cash out or borrow against high-yield investments, which could put them behind when it came to saving for retirement. Or they could have borrowed money at high interest rates, also putting them financially behind.

Rising Costs Remain a Problem – Enriched DBL Is The Answer

Of course, this is not the 1980s or early ‘90s. But that $170 per week doesn’t even stretch as far as it did back then. And while interest rates remain low right now, that could change in the next quarter of 2022. That makes it even more critical for employers and employees to review their finances now.

If they should become ill or injured, how will they pay their bills and provide for their family?

Certainly not on $170 per week, when the average price of gas (as an example) in New York metro areas is $4.43 / gallon, according to AAA.com figures.

As a New York disability insurance broker, you are probably experiencing many of the same cost challenges your clients have in New York. But, as an educated broker working with The DBL Center, you also have a solution for these concerns: Enriched DBL coverage.

By enriching DBL insurance coverage for your clients with over 50 lives, you can provide peace-of-mind that they can maintain their standard of living in New York, even if they suffer a non-work-related illness or injury.

Enriched DBL benefits packages written through The DBL Center can provide weekly maximum payouts of $200 to $850, offering between 50% to 60% of salary replacement for workers.

Why Does Paid Family Leave Pay More Than NYS Disability Benefits?   

Enriched DBL is especially critical with today’s high costs of living in New York State. It’s also important to provide this benefit to your workers in light of the recent increases in Paid Family Leave coverage. New York State-mandated PFL benefits reached their maximum rates in 2021, providing 67% of an employee’s annual average weekly wage, up to a maximum benefit of $74,509.

That means you receive more money if you have to take time off to care for a child or a disabled or ill dependent than you would receive if you were injured or ill yourself and could not work.

PFL is undoubtedly an important benefit that helps with workplace equity and helps bridge the gap of income inequality often experienced by working women, who are often the primary caregivers in a household.

But enriched DBL is a benefit that can provide every person in your organization – up to the c-level executives and owners – with peace-of-mind that they can access partial income replacement if they are ill or injured.

Maybe someday New York leaders will see that disability benefits must also keep pace with increasing costs in our state. In the meantime, savvy insurance brokers in New York can do the right thing for their clients by quoting them packages that include enriched DBL and voluntary worksite benefits like accident insurance that can help.