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California Short-Term Disability Benefits

Only around 40% of American families have liquid savings that can cover more than three months’ worth of expenses. If someone is rendered unable to work for even a short period, it could have dire financial consequences.

State benefit programs can be the help you need in unexpected life circumstances. California is one of the few states that provides, besides other benefits, state disability insurance (SDI) for workers.

In this article, you’ll learn what SDI is, who it covers, and whether you may qualify.

What Is SDI?

State Disability Insurance is a program administered by California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) that provides short-term Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL).

SDI benefits are paid out as partial wage replacements to employees who’ve become temporarily unable to work due to:

  • A non-work-related illness or injury;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Childbirth.

The public benefit program is funded by employees through payroll deductions, and most employers are legally required to participate in the SDI program. This means that the majority of workers can benefit if they meet eligibility requirements.

Who Qualifies?

SDI automatically covers most California workers.

To be eligible to receive DI benefits from the State Plan, you must have earned at least $300 subject to SDI tax during the “base period”— 12 months divided into four quarters.

Other Requirements

On top of that, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be unable to perform your regular work for at least eight consecutive days
  • Suffer a loss of wages due to your disability
  • Be employed or actively job-searching when the disability begins
  • Submit a Disability Insurance Benefits claim within 49 days following the start of the disability
  • Have a physician or practitioner certify your disability

You may also qualify for SDI benefits if you still work, but for fewer hours and for reduced pay, assuming you meet other requirements.


If you’re deemed eligible, you will receive benefits every two weeks. The benefit amount is 60-70% of the wages you received during the highest-paid quarter of your base period and is not subject to tax.

An SDI claim does have a 7-day unpaid waiting period, and you can use vacation or sick days to cover it. However, you cannot receive full sick pay once you start to receive SDI benefits.

You may receive benefits for up to 52 weeks, if you are unable to work for that long due to a disability. You can file a claim online on the EDD website or by mail.

Consult a Trusted Disability Rights Lawyer in California

When you cannot work because of an injury or illness, you should be able to focus on healing. You shouldn’t have to worry about how to cover living expenses. Disability insurance can help you during your recovery by providing you with an income source until you’re well enough to work again.

However, disability insurance laws are complex and challenging to navigate without a lawyer by your side. Some who apply for SDI are considered ineligible and denied benefits, while others are initially approved for benefits but are later disqualified.

At Haffner Law, we are committed to helping our clients get the benefits they need and deserve. If you need assistance with the SDI claims process, whether it’s an initial application or an appeal, you can rely on our team to guide you through the process and work with you toward the best possible outcome.

For a free, no-obligation consultation, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637).

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