Apply For Benefits

How to Apply for Paid Family Leave Benefits 

What You Need Before You Apply

The District of Columbia’s Paid Family Leave program provides employees with benefits when they are out on leave from work to bond with a new child, take care of a family member, or take care of their own serious health condition. 

For important information about the Paid Family Leave program and applying for benefits, click here to download our Employee Handbook.

Paid Family Leave benefits are paid when you experience a qualifying event and take leave from work due to that event. There are three kinds of events for which you may be eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits:

Parental leave

You can receive parental leave benefits if one of the following happens:

  • Your biological child was born in the past year
  • A child was placed with you for adoption in the past year
  • A child was placed with you for foster care in the past year
  • You legally assumed parental responsibility for a child in the past year.

The "past year" for parental leave means one year from the calendar date on which the event occurred. For example, if a child was placed with you on August 4, 2020, you would have until August 3, 2021 to take leave and receive Paid Family Leave benefits for that leave. You can receive benefits for up to 8 weeks in a year to bond with a new child. 

Family leave

Paid Family Leave family leave benefits allows you to be with your family in difficult times and to provide needed care and companionship to your loved ones when they need it the most. You can only receive family leave benefits if you will be providing care or companionship to your family member with a serious health condition. You can receive benefits for up to 6 weeks in a year.  

Eligible family members to whom you may provide care or companionship and receive family leave benefits, include: 

  • Your child
  • Your parent
  • Your grandparent
  • Your spouse
  • Your sibling

Medical leave

You can receive medical leave benefits if you have a serious health condition that prevents you from working, attending school, or performing regular activities of daily living. Being “prevented” from doing these things could mean either the physical inability to do them or the inability to attend them because you are seeking treatment for your serious health condition. A serious health condition can be either physical or mental in nature and can be an injury, illness, or impairment. You can receive benefits for up to 2 weeks in a year.

Important Eligibility Information

In order to submit a Paid Family Leave claim, you must:

  • Have experienced a qualifying event 
  • Know the days on which you intend to take leave due to this event; and
  • Have documentation proving the occurrence of your qualifying event, including a medical certification form by a healthcare provider for medical or family leave claim

In addition to the above information, you will need the following information:

  • Your full name and date of birth
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number(ITIN), which is needed for OPFL to verify that wages were paid to you by a covered employer
  • Contact information for you, which means your mailing address, telephone number, and email address
  • The name of your employer’s business (unless you are a self-employed individual)
  • Contact information for your employer (this should be the person at your place of employment you want OPFL to contact about your claim, such as your supervisor or human resources (HR) officer
  • Know the type of qualifying leave for which you are applying (parental leave, family leave, or medical leave) 
  • The dates on which you expect to be out of work due to the qualifying event and for which you are applying for Paid Family Leave benefits (the dates cannot be more than one year after the date on which you are filing for benefits) 
  • Information about your regular work schedule (see Chapter 4 of the PFL Employee Handbook, “The Leave Schedule”)  
  • If you chose to receive benefits through direct deposit, you will need your ABA routing and bank account numbers 

View the "How to" Apply video below. 

Ready to Apply

When you are ready to apply for benefits, you can do so online by visiting our benefits portal. There, you will be able to create an account and submit a claim for benefits.

  • Select “not registered” to set up your new account. 
  • Under Option 2, select “create an account” and agree to the privacy agreement. 
  • Proceed to enter the necessary information to register and file a claim. 

We encourage you to use our benefits application portal to file a claim. If you are unable to apply online, please call our contact center at (202) 899-3700.

Click to download our PFL Employee Handbook for additional information about qualifying events and the program. 

What Happens After You Apply

  • OPFL will contact you within 10 business days. During those 10 days, OPFL staff will review your application and notify your employer that you have filed a claim. After OPFL has made a decision on your claim, OPFL will notify you about your claim in the preferred method you selected in your application (by email or postal mail). 
  • How will I receive my benefits payments? Once you are approved, you will receive benefits payments, either by direct deposit or prepaid debit card, depending on the method you selected while filing a claim. 

Checklist for Benefits Application

Before you apply for benefits online, use our application checklist below to make sure you have all the items you need. 

Tell Your Employer

As long as you have reason to believe that you will need time off for a qualifying event, the law requires you to tell your employer that you will be taking time off at least 10 days before you need the leave. It is best to do this in writing so that there is a record that you gave notice. When you tell your employer that you will be on leave, you must include the following things in what you tell your employer: 

  • The type of Paid Family Leave benefits you will be applying for You do not need to tell any details to your employer about your Paid Family Leave claim. You only need to say whether the leave will be for “parental leave,” “family leave,” or “medical leave.” 
  • How long you expect to be out on leave This could be any length of time from a few days to weeks or months. You should be as specific as possible. 
  • The expected start and end dates of the leave If you are unsure of the exact dates, you should give an estimate. If you are taking family or medical leave, your doctor should be able to provide you with an estimate. 
  • Your leave schedule You need to tell your employer whether you will be out for one single period of time (this is known as “continuous leave”) or whether you will be working and taking leave during the same period or even within the same week (this is known as “intermittent leave”). You need to be specific about the days you will be out on leave

Choose an Authorized Representative 

An authorized representative is someone who is allowed to submit and manage Paid Family Leave claims on your behalf. You are not required to choose an authorized representative, but you may do so, if you want. In certain circumstances, some people will always be allowed by OPFL to submit and manage claims on your behalf because they are always considered to be authorized representatives by our office. In these cases, you do not need to give proof in advance of the qualifying event to OPFL that these individuals are authorized to act on your behalf. These individuals are: 

  • Your legal guardian if you are under 18 
  • Someone holding power of attorney on your behalf 

When a doctor says that you are unable to act on your own behalf, your legal guardian will be allowed to submit and manage claims on your behalf. If you choose to elect an authorized representative, you must complete the Power of Attorney form (PFL-POA).

Gather Documents 

Filing for Parental Leave 

You must provide proof that a qualifying event has occurred. This proof can be one of the following:

  • A birth certificate 
  • A hospital admission form given to you when you gave birth 
  • A document from a medical provider who provided care to the newborn child
  • A court document showing custody of a child and the date on which you took custody of the child 
  • A document from an adoption or foster care agency involved in the placement of your child that confirms the placement with you and the date of the placement

Your documents must show the following 3 things:

    • The child’s name
    • The claimant’s name
    • The date of the birth or placement

Filing for Family Leave

Filing for Medical Leave

Paid Family Leave Benefits Forms