California state disability insurance (SDI) is a mandated program for many people working in the Golden State. It is funded by employee payroll deductions and provides temporary, partial income replacement for workers suffering a loss of income due to a covered accident or illness.
The program is the centerpiece of California’s social safety-net, but like any government program there are many holes, and plenty of un-unanswered questions such as:
- How much do I get, and how long does it last?
- What if I am pregnant?
- Does it protect my job?
- How it works with Social Security
- How to apply for benefits?
CA State Disability Calculations
California SDI benefit calculations have three main components: the percentage of income replacement, the maximum weekly benefit amount, and the length of time payments are made. The calculations for this state mandated program help you answer: “how much do I get?”, and “how long does it last?’
Percentage of Income Calculations
In order to answer the question:” how much does California state disability insurance pay?’ you need to calculate your qualifying income. Twelve months of your income are divided into quarters. You begin counting from five months prior to the start of your disability. The quarter with the highest earnings is used to determine your benefit calculation. Your weekly benefit amount is 55% of this quarter.
California SDI payments are not income taxable, so your actual take-home-pay will be higher than this amount. You can increase your maximum benefit amount by purchasing a private policy.
Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount
The California SDI maximum weekly benefit amount is $1,067 for 2013. Each year the maximum weekly benefit amount increases slightly, so expect the maximum to be slightly higher in 2014.
Perform a simple calculation to determine that the maximum weekly benefit amount limit applies to workers earning approximately $100,784 annually in 2013. If your income is higher than this figure, you consider purchasing a supplemental policy to increase payments above this limit.
Duration of Payments
Many people ask “how long does California SDI last”. There is a three part answer to this question: how long you remain disabled, and how long before payments are exhausted, and how to extend the duration. California state disability insurance payments last as long as your doctor certifies you are not able to work because of a qualifying medical condition. Once you are physically able to return to work, benefit payments cease.
CA state disability insurance has a twelve-month benefit payment duration. If you remain under a doctor’s care, and are continuously disabled, payments cease after twelve months. You may be eligible to extend payments by applying for Social Security. See below for details.
Another option to extend payments while disabled is to purchase a supplemental policy. Payment duration can be extended by an additional twelve months. Also long term disability is a common way to extend the duration of payments. These policies need to be purchased before getting sick or hurt.
California SDI for Pregnancy
California SDI for pregnancy is the most common claim reason. It covers your normal labor and delivery along with complications of pregnancy.
Pregnancy Bed Rest
Many women work in physically demanding occupations: hair stylists, nurses, food servers and many others spend a significant amount of time on their feet. California SDI may make payments if you need to leave work even though your pregnancy is perfectly healthy. If you are unable to perform your regular or customary job duties, you may be covered without showing medical complications.
There is no set time for a pregnant woman to be off work, just as there is none for any other illness or disability. You may qualify for payments for the periods before and after your delivery during which your medical provider determines that you are unable to perform your regular and customary occupation due to your pregnancy or any condition arising out of your pregnancy.
CA State Disability Insurance Maternity Leave
California state disability insurance for maternity leave works well. For a normal childbirth, entitlements are usually payable for up to four (4) weeks before the expected delivery date and up to six (6) weeks after the actual delivery date. Entitlements may be payable for a longer period if your doctor certifies that you have a specific complication related to the pregnancy; you have a Cesarean section; or you have another simultaneous disability.
Get private short term disability covering maternity leave to increase your maternity leave income.
California SDI and Job Protection
California SDI does not provide job protection, just income replacement. But Federal and California family leave laws do provide for job protection under specific circumstances. Since pregnancy is the most common reason for claims we provide a brief summary of three related laws. While couples have several laws providing job protection, there are holes and limits.
Pregnancy Disability Leave
California SDI and Pregnancy Disability Leave work together like hand and glove. Twenty five percent of pregnancies encounter one or more complications of pregnancy that may require mom to miss substantial time from work prior to delivery.
California Pregnancy Disability Leave provides four months of job protections. SDI replaces lost income during this time.
Paid Family Leave
California SDI and Paid Family Leave also work together like hand and glove in childbirth situations. California state disability insurance replaces mom’s income during the time she is unable to work. Once she recovers, Paid Family Leave provides an additional six weeks of income replacement for baby bonding time. Fathers also qualify.
California SDI is often connected with unemployment compensation. The issues can be complex, but there are certain scenarios under which couples can tap into multiple sources of government entitlements. This happens most frequently to growing families during a maternity leave. California state disability insurance is not payable while you are receiving unemployment compensation.
But these entitlements do run out, and the job protections do expire!
California is one of twenty two states taking advantage of federal incentives to modernize unemployment compensation. The incentives allow for unemployment to be paid for compelling family reasons, including care for family member with a serious illness. Some couples may be able to extend these payments under these circumstances.
California SDI Claims Form
California SDI claims forms need to be completed in order for you to receive your pregnancy and/or maternity leave payments. You can download a claim form with instructions or visit the California EDD website. General information is available in English (1-800-480-3287) and Spanish (1-866-658-8846) by phone.
Further information about claims, eligibility, program details, and more can be found at CA Employment Development Department.
California SDI and Social Security
California SDI and Social Security are two different programs. California state disability insurance payments cease after twelve months, and Social Security is for disabilities expected to last longer than one year. The two programs dovetail nicely together. If you expect to miss more than twelve months of work, it pays to begin applying for longer term assistance with this federal program. Once the California state payments end, the federal entitlements can begin.
Contact the California Department of Social Services office in your local area for help in filing a claim and getting started with your application.
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