What Happens If California SDI Runs Out: Extending Benefits

What happens when California State Disability Insurance (SDI) runs out?

How do you extend SDI benefits? Can you collect unemployment after exhausting SDI?

It is easy to feel confused or anxious if you ask any of these questions because the rules initially seem confusing or contradictory.

You can extend for up to 39 or 52 weeks but must apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) after SDI expires.  

But the SSDI payout is low, and the qualifications are tough to meet, so it may help to line up alternatives to help you survive financially.   

How to Extend California SDI Benefits

When asking how to extend California SDI benefits, you must remember claim payments last a maximum of fifty-two weeks or the cumulative wages in your base period, whichever is less.

  • State Disability Insurance (SDI): 52 Weeks
  • Self-Employment Elective Coverage (SEEC): 39 Weeks

SDI Extension Forms

Disabled individuals can sometimes extend California SDI benefits until reaching the limit of 39 or 52 weeks. The correct forms to complete change once you surpass the recovery period established on your initial claim.

Find the appropriate SDI extension forms online.

  1. Disability Claim Continued Eligibility Questionnaire (DE 2593) applies to people on automatic payment. Complete form DE 2593 every ten weeks until your expected recovery date.
  2. Claim for Continued Disability Benefits (DE 2500A) applies to individuals not receiving automatic payment. Complete form DE 2500A every two weeks until reaching your expected recovery date.
  3. Practitioner’s Supplementary Certificate (DE 2525XX) applies to people after their initial expected recovery date. Have your physician complete form DE 2525XX to verify that you cannot work.

PFL Extension Forms

New mothers can extend California SDI by using the same forms, provided their pregnancy disability continues to prevent them from working. However, they have a second option to prolong benefits after their recovery, when they are physically able to return to the job.  

Apply for California Paid Family Leave to extend benefits while bonding with your baby. The state provides an additional eight weeks of partial income replacement for new mothers after their disability ends.

Also, expect the state to mail new mothers the correct forms to assist with transitioning from the first program to the second.  

Buying a Policy

Buying a supplemental insurance policy is not viable to extend California SDI benefits beyond the stated 39 or 52-week period. Private insurance companies will decline your application on two levels.

Short-term disability covers pre-existing conditions after a one-year delay if you qualify to purchase the coverage. However, people already receiving benefits through the state disability program do not meet the criteria. You must be actively working when starting a new policy.

What Happens When SDI Runs Out

Many people wonder what happens when California State Disability Insurance (SDI) runs out. Now, filing an extension is no longer an option because you have reached the end of the line.

A notice of exhaustion of disability benefits signals that you must return to work or find an alternative source of income replacement.

Social Security Disability

Filing a claim for Social Security disability is the best approach once California State Disability Insurance runs out. Although the monthly benefits are lesser, they can extend until full retirement age (66 in most cases).

Apply for Social Security Disability right away to avoid unnecessary gaps. The government approval process can be lengthy, so do not delay starting the application. More than half of applicants receive an initial denial because the criteria are stricter; you may be unable to perform any substantial gainful activity.

You can survive while waiting for disability approval by cutting expenses through other government programs helping low-income families. Apply for every possible benefit to make your limited budget dollars stretch further.

  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Section Eight Housing Vouchers

Collecting Unemployment

Collecting unemployment after California State Disability Insurance runs out is rarely the answer, even though the program pays more than Social Security. You could encounter one of two possible conflicts.

Applying for medical unemployment is unlikely to help after exhausting disability benefits because you probably will fail the most critical criteria: you must be physically capable of working.

Collecting unemployment is unlikely to help even after you recover from your illness or injury because you did not have a good cause reason to quit your job. Consider this the downside of having state disability and paid family leave insurance; the government already provided ample benefits under both scenarios.