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How To File For Disability In CA

Last updated: August 6, 2023

If you are unable to work due to a physical or mental disability, you may be eligible for disability benefits from California State Disability Insurance (SDI). In 2022, approximately 42.5% of California workers are insured under the state’s disability benefits program.

Filing for disability can be a complicated process, but it is important to understand the steps involved in order to receive the financial support you need. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the process for filing for disability in California, including the eligibility requirements and the application process. Read the article below to learn more.

What Is Disability Pay In California?

The SDI program enables insured individuals to have economic stability by providing wage replacement benefits to qualified workers for any non-work-related illness or injury. After filing a valid claim, an eligible employee may receive disability payments of up to $1,540 per week, depending on their SDI contributions, to compensate for any lost wages.

How Does Disability Pay Work?

SDI taxes are regularly deducted from your earnings, with 0.9% of each dollar you make going towards funding the SDI program. These payments are referred to as SDI contributions. You are eligible to receive cash benefits in the case of a pregnancy or non-work-related disability if you have made at least $300 in SDI contributions.

Who Administers Disability Pays In California?

For six decades, the SDI program which provides partial income replacement benefits to eligible California employees is currently administered by the EDD. The EDD disburses over $4.2 billion in disability payments annually, and processes at least 927,000 claims each year.

Employment Development Department (EDD)

The Employment Development Department (EDD) is responsible for handling claims and weekly benefit payments of millions of California workers under State Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance (UI). In addition, the EDD also manages the auditing and collection of payroll taxes, as well as the maintenance of employment records for over 17 million workers in California.

What services does the EDD provide for those seeking Disability Pay?

The EDD provides a broad range of services to eligible California workers seeking disability payments, including:

  • Assistance for disabled recipients to become self-sufficient again

  • Monetary compensation for disabled and unemployed workers covered by the UI and SDI programs.

  • Collects and manages employment-related taxes to facilitate state programs and benefits such as the UI and SDI.

  • Assisting qualified employees with the filing of their disability claims via online benefits services

  • Providing weekly payments to SDI beneficiaries

Eligibility Requirements For Disability Pay

The EDD administers the eligibility requirements for California workers seeking disability payments. Learn more below.

What are the eligibility requirements for Disability Pay in California?

To qualify for disability pay, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be unable to perform your customary or regular work duties for a minimum of 8 days.

  • Have lost income resulting from your non-work-related disability

  • Must be employed

  • Have contributed at least $300 to the SDI program during your base period

  • Receive medical care and treatment from your employer’s medical provider or a licensed physician while receiving SDI benefits

  • Must have submitted Disability Claims Form (DE 2501) and other necessary documents within the deadline

  • Have a complete medical certification from your medical care provider

Are there any exceptions to the eligibility requirements?

Not every California employee is required to adhere to the eligibility requirements set by the EDD. Only workers employed by companies with payrolls greater than $100 in a calendar quarter are subject to the eligibility criteria.

When and how do you apply for disability pay benefits?

You may submit your application no sooner than 9 days after the onset of your disability (i.e., the day you became unable to work), and you must file your claim within 49 days of the same date; otherwise, you may not be eligible for benefits.

To apply for benefits, you must complete two sections of the application. Part A requires your personal information, while Part B must be completed by your doctor or medical practitioner as a certification of your disability. To apply, follow these steps:

  1. Create a Benefit Programs Online (BPO) account to file a claim via SDI Online.

  2. Provide basic information and submit all necessary documentation.

  3. File your SDI claim.

  4. Have your medical practitioner complete your Medical Certification.

How long must you wait to receive your benefit payments after submitting your application?

Upon receiving your claim application, the EDD will assess whether you meet the eligibility criteria. Assessment and evaluation may take up to 14 days. If your claim is approved, your benefit payments will be issued within two weeks from the approval date.

Types Of Disability Benefits Available In California

In addition to SDI, there also other disability benefits programs available to California workers, such as the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Social Security Disability Insurance

The SSDI is one of the most common disability assistance programs of the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI provides financial aid to disabled individuals who meet certain work history and work credit requirements. The average SSDI payment is $1,688 per month.

Under the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program, qualified California workers may receive partial income replacement benefits to compensate for any lost wages resulting from non-work-related injuries or illnesses.

If you want to learn how to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance in Massachusetts, read this article from Disability Help.

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Chloe Powers
Chloe works with policymakers on behalf of Disability Help to support their work at a strategic level, ensuring the conditions are in place for creative individuals and organizations to grow, reach their potential and effect relevant, sustainable change.
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