How Much California Short-Term Disability Can I Get?
This is the second part of a two part article in which our disability lawyers discuss California Short Term Disability benefits. Remember California Short-Term Disability (SDI) is a separate program from Social Security Disability (SSDI) & Supplemental Security Income (SSI). (Click Here for Part 1 of this article).
In California, employees who have contributed payroll tax to the state’s short-term disability insurance (SDI) program, may be eligible for payments from the State’s disability fund if they are temporarily unable to work due to disability, including pregnancy.
California employees who qualify for SDI are generally entitled to a benefit equal to 55% of their regular wages, up to a “cap”. This cap is currently $1,216 per week – and is adjusted as necessary to keep up with inflation.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you automatically receive 55% of what you were earning just before becoming unable to work. California calculates SDI benefits based on your earnings during what is called a “base period”.
This “base period” is the entire twelve month period that ended just before the last full calendar quarter you were able to work – and then the the highest-paid quarter within your base period will be used to come up with a daily amount.
Sound complicated? It kind of is – but our lawyers can help you calculate this if you call our office.
In the meantime, here is an example. If you become disabled sometime in November 2017, the last full calendar quarter you would have worked would have been July 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017. So, your “base period” used for calculating benefits would be July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.
If you consistently receive approximately the same wages or salary every month, the date when you file your claim won’t have much effect on your benefit amount. Any “base period” they use will be pretty much the same as any other. However, if your wages have changed or are irregular – say you receive varying commissions or bonuses, or you work seasonally with higher wages in one period than another – then the timing of filing your SDI claim could significantly affect your benefit amount.
If you have irregular or seasonal earnings, you may want to consider timing your claim to make sure that your base period captures your highest earnings. But remember, you must file for benefits within 49 days of becoming disabled, so you can’t wait indefinitely. Our disability lawyers are happy to help you understand the best time to file your CA SDI claim.
Calculating California Short Term Disability Benefits
California SDI benefits are paid on a daily basis. The California Economic Development Department (EDD) will use the highest-paid quarter of your base period to come up with your daily amount.
Example: You earned 6,000 in your highest-paid quarter, and that quarter included 91 days.
Your “daily earnings” amount would be 6,000 divided by 91, or about $66. The EDD will pay you 55% of that amount, or about $36 per day. This is the amount you will earn for every single day you are not working, including weekends. So your weekly benefit would add up to $36 times seven days, or $252.
In this example you are under the current “cap” of $1069. But if you have high earnings, you may be subject to the cap. Let’s look at another example.
If you earned $35,000 in your highest-paid quarter, which included 91 days, your daily earnings amount would be about $384. The EDD’s initial benefit calculation would be 55% of this amount, or roughly $211. Multiply $211 x 7 and your weekly amount of $1477 is more than the state’s current weekly maximum of $1,069 – so your weekly benefit would be “capped” at the maximum of $1,069.
Calculating California Short Term Disability If With Other Earnings
If you are receiving money from other sources while you are disabled, it may affect the amount of your SDI benefit. Accrued paid vacation time does not count against you, and you will still receive full disability benefits. However, accrued sick time or paid disability leave through your employer or PTO will reduce your DI benefits. The EDD subtracts what you are actually being paid from these sources from your benefit amount, and only pays you the difference.
Additionally, if you return to work gradually, work shortened hours or are assigned a lesser paying or a light duty position, the EDD will subtract what you are paid from your benefit amount, and pay you the difference.
Long Beach California Short Term Disability Lawyers
While we are lucky to live in California – which is one of the few states that offer State Disability benefits – applying and calculating benefits can be confusing. Call our office to speak to a disability lawyer if you have been disabled and would like help understanding the complete range of disability benefits for which you may qualify.