The state of California provides disability benefits if you are temporarily unable to work. You may also be eligible for benefits if you care for a family member who is seriously ill. The Employment Department Department administers these benefits, which are funded through taxes taken out of your paycheck. If you need more than one year of disability benefits, you must file for federal benefits with the Social Security Administration.
The base period for benefit calculations is the 12 months ending two quarters prior to the start of the claim. For example, a claim filed in July would be based on your pay for April of the previous year through March of the current year. To be eligible for temporary disability benefits in California, you must have lost income due to a disabling condition that rendered you unable to work. You must earn at least $300 in wages during base period and have SDI taxes withheld from your paycheck. There is no citizenship or immigrant status requirement.
You are eligible for temporary disability benefits for 52 weeks. Self-employed individuals are only eligible for disability benefits for 39 weeks. If you are entering a rehabilitation facility for drug or alcohol addiction, your benefits are limited to 90 days. Your benefits will be 55 percent of your highest paid quarter during the base period. Disability earnings are not taxable, so your net income will be slightly higher than 55 percent of your previous net wages. You must subtract any income you earn while off work from your disability benefits. The weekly benefit amount is capped at $1,014 for 2015.
Filing a Claim
File your claim with the EDD within seven weeks of becoming disabled. Include a medical certificate of disability signed by an authorized medical or religious practitioner. Be prepared to answer any follow-up questions the EDD may have about your case and attend all EDD-arranged doctor appointments. If your application is approved, you will receive an estimate of your weekly benefits along with the approval notice.
Appealing a Denied Claim
The Disability Determination Service Division reviews all applications for short-term disability. If your initial application is denied, you can file a request for reconsideration. The DSDD will evaluate your case again with any additional facts you provided in your reconsideration request. If this request is also denied, you may request an appeal hearing. An administrative law judge will decide the final disposition of your case instead of the DSDD.
Pregnancy and family leave benefits also are covered under California's short-term disability program. Non-financial benefits of the program include a guarantee that your employer cannot terminate your health insurance coverage while you are out on disability and protection from garnishment to pay creditors or tax debts. Your benefits also are guaranteed in the event the employer does not make its required disability tax deposits. The company will be subject to penalties and interest until its financial obligations are fulfilled.
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