The California State Disability Insurance Program

In CA, the majority of workers pay a small portion of their monthly salary into a State Disability Insurancefund. If they then become disabled through a non work related accident or illness, and are eligible, they will receive insurance payments to cover the costs of living while unable to earn money. Time off during pregnancy or as Paid Family Leave is also covered by SDI and payments can last for a period of up to 52 weeks.

Making Obligatory SDI Payments

California SDI requires that you pay a small portion of your salary into the SDI fund. In 2008, the necessary payments were 0.8% of your salary up to a maximum of $693.58 per annum. Around 12 million Californians pay into the fund although a portion of the population are not required to do so. Government workers are the most notable absentees from the system, as the majority are not required to make SDI payments.

Benefit Eligibility

Should you become unable to work through an accident or illness that is unrelated to your work then you may be eligible to receive the State Disability Insurance payout. Pregnancy and Paid Family Leave (PFL), while obviously not disabilities or illnesses, also make you eligible to receive SDI in the same way.

Eligibility For Pregnancy And PFL

SDI is paid for an initial period of 4 weeks before and 6 weeks after pregnancy. An additional six week bonding period is also offered once the initial ten week period lapses. For complicated pregnancies and related illnesses, the period of entitlement may also be extended. You are entitled to six weeks a year SDI for Paid Family Leave. If this is to care for a sick family member then you will need to obtain medical certification that proves their state of health.

How Much SDI You Will Receive

Once eligibility has been determined, SDI will be calculated according to your previous pay and working history. In California, a base period is determined that encompasses a 12 month period from seventeen months before your disability to five months before. This annual period is then dissected into four quarters and your SDI payment is calculated as being 55% of your salary in the highest paying of those quarters (to a maximum weekly benefit of $917.00 in 2008). Periods of unemployment and military service may be taken into account to ensure that you get what is regarded a reasonable salary level.

How To File A Claim

Filing a claim requires the completion of a four page SDI form. You will need to complete two pages of this form yourself, providing personal details and some basic details of your disability. The remainder of the form is then completed by your health care provider. This section consists of a medical diagnosis and an estimate of how long you will be unable to work.

Benefit Cessation And Renewal

SDI is meant to be paid for a period of no longer than 52 weeks. The initial period of benefit payments will be determined by the length of time that your health care provider indicated on your SDI forms. You will be reminded when this period is due to expire, although it can be extended with the agreement of your health care provider and presuming your continued eligibility.

State Disability Insurance And Your Options

State Disability Insurance is specifically for non-work related illnesses and accidents. It pays for a period of up to 52 weeks, typically at a rate of 55% of the average income of your base period. If you have suffered from a work related disability then you are not eligible for SDI but you may be able to claim Worker’s Compensation instead.

States Providing Coverage

Currently the only states providing disability insurance are California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Hawaii and New York. The plans differ in each state.