I-Team Investigation: Workers have issues with new CT Paid Leave program

Issues with new CT Paid Leave program
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - Connecticut workers are complaining that the program supposed to keep them afloat while on medical leave is backfiring.

The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority started taking applications, and the I-Team is learning many have been approved, but not paid.

So far, the Paid Leave Authority has nearly 40,000 applicants.

13,000 people have been approved and $58 million in benefits have been paid.

We’re learning some who have been approved have gone months without a payment.

“I’m Dorie Calos. I’m 35 years old and I applied for the CT FMLA program. I was approved, but I have still not seen a dime.”

“I’m Candy Winzer, I’m 75 years old and I have a problem with the Family Medical Leave AFLAC of Connecticut. I have not received the full amount of money since I’ve been out February 7.”

“My name is Bob Moreau. I’m 64 years old and my problem with CT Paid Family Leave is that it’s been two months and I haven’t received a dime from them.”

These are the some of the stories of Connecticut workers who applied for benefits through Connecticut Paid Leave.

Candy Winzer had a hip replacement. Bob Moreau had back surgery and Dorie Calos had a baby.

CT Paid Leave is supposed to tide them over financially while they’re out from work.

Aflac pays out the benefits and the amounts vary based on income.

“It’s supposed to be 60% of my income,” said Moreau.

“$780,” said Calos.

They all reached out to the I-Team raising concerns about the program’s efficiency.

Winzer’s payments haven’t been in full, Calos hasn’t received any payments and Moreau’s application has been pending for weeks.

With no money coming in from their jobs or the state, some are really feeling the strain.

“I had to take $3,000 out just to hold myself over until they made up their minds on if they were going to send me anything,” said Winzer.

The I-Team took those concerns to Erin Choquette, the Chief Operating Officer for CT Paid Leave, who acknowledges there have been issues.

“We have heard those frustrations and we completely understand it. Our program exists for people to get that income replacement when they can’t work. When there’s delays we understand that’s a problem and we’re trying to work through it,” said Choquette.

Officials say the source of the backlogs started with the omicron surge in December and January.

It happened just as the program started taking applications.

“Our January numbers were actually 30% higher than we anticipated,” Choquette said.

Officials say as applicants were navigating this new program, they didn’t realize that simply having covid and quarantining was *not* covered.

“If you have complications, have to go to the hospital, if you have to have ongoing treatment, if you have long COVID, those are covered,” said Choquette.

Rejecting many omicron applications snarled the system at the very beginning.

“We just got a lot of claims for people who weren’t covered, but we still had to process them,” Choquette said.

It seems as if CT Paid Leave is still playing catch up.

“We’re not at a consistently good process for everyone,” said Choquette.

Program officials don’t have clear timelines on when delays will ease up, but they say they are continuing to improve the technology and will continue to train their employees.

The Connecticut applicants in constant limbo with no money are urged to use the Contact Us page on the family leave website.

Your info will go to the internal benefits teams with the goal of getting personalized service.

I-TEAM INVESTIGATION: Issues with state paid leave program