How is the California State Disability Insurance benefit calculated?


California is one of five states that has state-mandated term disability insurance that replaces a portion of lost wages due to “disability” incurred outside of the workplace. “Disability” can include illness or injury, whether physical or mental, as well as pregnancy and childbirth or even elective surgery, among other medical conditions.

State disability insurance (SDI) is a short-term program that pays benefits for up to a year, unlike Social Security which is for conditions that last at least a year or could result in death. The exact amount beneficiaries could receive depends on their income and the amount they have contributed to the program.

Also see:

How much does California state disability insurance pay?

The amount of your weekly SDI benefit is estimated at 60-70% of the salary you earned 5-18 months prior to application. The maximum you can receive in 2022 is $1,540 per week for a total of $80,080 if you qualify for the 52-week maximum. The weekly benefit calculation and maximum amount are the same for California Paid Family Leave (PFL), but this benefit can only be taken for eight weeks.

To find out more about how your weekly allowance is calculated, you can visit the online website Disability insurance and paid family leave calculator. These are estimates, so you will need to contact the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The fastest way to file a claim is to do so using the EDD online IDS page.

You can also file your SDI or PFL claim by mail. You will need to request that a copy of the application be mailed to you through the ESD website or by contacting the Disability EDD or PFL numberand once you have completed the application, you must mail it to ESD Office closest to your residence. SDI and PFL claim shapes are available in Spanish and English with guides for completing forms in other languages.

SDI and PFL form numbers

FROM 2501 Application for Disability Insurance Benefits
OF 2501F Application for Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits
OF 2502 Application for Disability Insurance Benefits – Religious Practitioner Certificate
OF 2502F Practitioner Certification for Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits

Who is eligible for California state disability insurance?

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

The health problem must have prevented you from performing your regular or usual duties at work for at least eight days or caused you to lose your salary. If you were not employed when you became disabled, you may still be entitled to benefits provided you are actively looking for work at the time.

File a claim for SDI and PFL

Within eight days of the onset of “disability” you must be under the care and treatment of a physician or medical practitioner who is licensed or an accredited religious practitioner. To continue to receive benefits, you must still be in care and treatment.

You cannot apply for benefits until nine days have elapsed since the onset of your disability and no more than 49 days after the onset of the medical condition or risk losing your benefits. There are situations where a claim filed after this time may be accepted, see the EDD.

You must have the medical certificate part completed by your doctor, practitioner or religious practitioner. If it is within their scope of practice, a nurse practitioner can certify your disability. For a normal pregnancy or childbirth, the medical certificate can be completed by a registered midwife, nurse midwife or nurse practitioner.


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