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What is the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program?

California’s State Disability Insurance program provides short-term wage replacement for those who cannot work due to a non-work-related medical condition.

What to know about the California State Disability Insurance program
Rick MadonikGetty

California, for the purpose of the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program, defines “disability” differently than that of the Social Security program. Workers who are prevented from carrying out the regular and customary requirements of their job due to a medical condition may be eligible to claim benefits.

This can include a non-work-related illness or injury, whether it be physical or mental, along with pregnancy and childbirth or even elective surgery, among other medical conditions. The program provides financial support to all eligible California workers who are unable to work or losing wages because of the condition.

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Who is eligible for California State Disability Insurance?

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) stipulates that you must meet certain requirements to be eligible for SDI benefits. You must have earned a minimum of $300 which had SDI deductions withheld from during your base period, a calendar year. Citizenship and immigration status do not affect eligibility.

The medical condition must have been preventing you from performing your regular or customary duties at work for at least eight days or is causing you to lose wages. If you aren’t employed when you become disabled, you may still be eligible for benefits on the condition that you were actively looking for work at the time.

Within eight days of the onset of the disability, you must be under the care and treatment of a physician or practitioner that is licensed or an accredited religious practitioner. In order to continue receiving benefits, you must still be under care and treatment.

You cannot claim benefits until nine days have passed from the beginning of your disability and no more than 49 days after the onset of the medical condition or risk losing benefits. You will need to fill out and submit a Claim for Disability Insurance Benefits form, either DE 2501 or DE 2502 for religious practitioners, which you can search for on the EDD Online Forms and Publications webpage.

You must have the medical certification portion completed by your physician, practitioner or religious practitioner. If it is within their scope of practice, a nurse practitioner may certify your disability. For normal pregnancy or childbirth, the medical certification can be completed by a licensed midwife, nurse-midwife, or nurse practitioner.

How much of your wages will be replaced by California SDI?

The amount financial support that you can receive per week depends on your salary. The benefit will be calculated using your base period during which you must have paid into the program. You can verify that you’ve made contributions by checking your paystubs, it will be listed under “CASDI”.

Your Weekly Benefit Amount is estimated as 60 to 70 percent of the wages you earned 5 to 18 months prior to the claim. The most you can receive in 2022 is $1,540 per week for a total of $80,080 should you qualify for the maximum of 52 weeks. To see more on calculating your weekly benefit you can check out the online Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave Calculator.