Do you qualify for Disability Insurance?

The State Disability Insurance (SDI) program provides partial wage replacement to eligible workers who are unable to work because of a disability, illness or pregnancy. The program is state-mandated, and is funded through employee payroll deductions. Workers covered by SDI are covered by two programs: Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL). The Employment Development Department (EDD) administers both of these programs.

The following are the Employment Development Department’s most frequently asked questions about Disability Insurance:

What do I do to apply?

To file a claim, you can call the EDD Disability Insurance customer service line to request a form, (Disability Insurance Form, 2501) apply online, or walk into any local EDD office to get an application. You can process a claim online by visiting http://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/ di_how_to_file_a_claim.htm or you can call an SDI program representative at 1-800-480-3287 (English) or 1-866-658-8846 (Spanish). You need to mail your claim form within 49 days from the first day you were disabled. If your claim is late, you may lose benefits unless your explanation of the delay is accepted as reasonable.

How much money will I receive?

It will depend on your earnings, but it will be approximately 55% of your total earnings. For claims beginning on or after January 1, 2012, weekly benefits range from $50 to a maximum of $1,011. State Disability benefits are calculated using the wages you were paid approximately 5 to 18 months before your SDI claim begins. You may receive up to 52 weeks, or one year, of payments.

Can a doctor outside of the U.S. certify my disability claim?

Yes, a doctor from another country is able to sign your disability form so you can collect your benefits. The process will take a little longer because the out of country doctor’s license has to be cleared by the EDD’s medical director’s office.

Can I apply even if I do not have a legal right to work in the U.S. or a social security number?

Yes, anyone working in California who pays into the California State Disability Insurance is potentially eligible for benefits, and your legal status does not affect your potential eligibility for benefits.

Do I get paid for the waiting period week?

No, anyone who files an initial claim for Disability benefits, needs to serve a non-payable 7 day waiting period. The only exception to this law is for those new mothers who are transitioning from their pregnancy related disability claim onto the Paid Family Leave claim, because they have paid into their initial disability claim.

If I need to take time off for a disability, will the EDD protect my job?

No. DI provides you income replacement while on leave – it does not guarantee job protection during your leave. It is important that you arrange the time off with your employer before applying for Disability Insurance. The EDD does not protect jobs; they only pay benefits to those who qualify.

For help filing your claim or to have EDD answer any questions you have, you can call a representative at 1-800-480-3287 (English) or 1-866-658-8846 (Spanish). The EDD has Disability offices throughout the state to answer any questions and help you apply. To find an office, visit: www.edd.ca.gov/disability . Representatives are available from 8a.m. to 5p.m., Monday through Friday, except on state holidays.