California State Disability Insurance FAQ

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California State Disability Insurance (SDI) is a partial wage-replacement insurance plan for California workers.

SDI is a state program that is funded through employee payroll deductions. SDI provides short term benefits to eligible workers who have suffered a loss of wages and are unable to work because of a non-work related injury, illness or pregnancy. Essentially, if you are a W-2 employee, you pay into SDI year-round, regardless of whether you will ever need to use it or not. So, if you do need to use it, you really should.

In order to be eligible for SDI you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be unable to do your regular/customary work for 8+ consecutive days
  • Be employed or actively looking for work at the time you became disabled
  • You have lost wages because of your disability, or if unemployed, have been actively looking for work
  • You must have earned at least $300 in earnings from which State Disability Insurance was withheld during a previous period.
  • You must be under the care and treatment of a licensed physician during the first eight days, and must remain under their care and treatment to continue receiving benefits. You will want to be sure to speak with your medical provider(s) to complete the proper documentation to qualify you for SDI benefits initially and ongoing.
  • You must complete and submit a claim form within 49 days of the date you became disabled
  • Your physician must complete the medical certification of your disability

Note: An independent medical examination to determine the individual’s initial or continuing eligibility may be required.

Yes, you can collect disability payments (California State Disability Insurance or “SDI”) even if you are making a claim for lost wages or loss of earnings in your personal injury case.

  • SDI will not directly affect your personal injury case or settlement amount
  • The collateral source rule basically enables an injured party to receive compensation for his/her injuries from a source independent of the wrongdoer
  • Be sure to check to make sure that you are not receiving other sources of income from your employer to replace your lost wages while you are out of work.

You are required to report any employment benefits you are receiving to the State when filing for SDI to determine your eligibility for benefits.

You will be ineligible for SDI if you are already receiving Unemployment Insurance of Paid Family Leaves benefits, or if any of the following are true:

  • Are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits at a weekly rate equal or greater than the SDI rate
  • Are receiving sick leave wages that are equivalent to your full salary. If you are receiving only partial sick leave wages, you may be eligible for full or partial SDI benefits.
  • Fail to have an independent medical examination when requested to do so

Note: Vacation pay is NOT in conflict with SDI benefits, so you can receive both at the same time.