What you need to know about California short-term disability insurance benefits

California’s Employment Development Department runs a State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. Under the program, you may be eligible for SDI benefits if you are unable to work because of the following reasons:

  • You have a non-work-related illness or injury.
  • You have a disability, either physical or mental, that prevents you from performing your customary work (when you file your claim for SDI benefits, your physician will need to certify your disability).
  • You are pregnant.
  • You need to take paid family leave to care for a sick relative or a newborn

SDI provides wage replacement benefits to eligible California workers. To be eligible for the benefit, you must have made SDI contributions that are paid through employee payroll deductions. If you are eligible, you can receive about 60–70% of the wages you earned in the 5–18 months before you became disabled. You can receive short-term disability benefits for a maximum of one year. If your condition persists beyond 12 months, you may then be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. You can read more about SSDI on our dedicated page here.

Mistakes to avoid when applying for short-term disability benefits

Avoiding these common errors when applying for California State Disability benefits will give you a higher chance of approval.

Not informing your doctor of your application

Many people do not tell their medical providers that they are applying for SDI benefits. This is a mistake because your treating physician can play an important role in your application. The Employment Development Department (EDD) requires that you have your doctor complete the Physician/Practitioner Certification to certify that you are disabled. Make sure you talk with your medical provider about your disability and your SDI application before it is filed.

To be eligible for benefits, you must be under the care of a licensed physician or accredited religious practitioner within the first eight days of your disability. You must remain under the care of the physician or practitioner to continue receiving benefits.

Forgetting the required information

When filing a short-term disability claim, provide the following information:

  • Valid California driver’s license (CDL) or identification (ID) card number
  • Your full legal name as it appears on your CDL or ID
  • Date of birth as shown on your CDL or ID
  • Social Security number
    Most current employer’s
  • business name, phone number, and mailing address (as stated on your W-2 or pay stub)
  • Last date you worked your normal duties (or the date you began working less than full or modified duty)
  • Any wages you receive or expect to receive from your employer after you stopped working, including any sick leave, paid time off, vacation pay, and annual leave
  • Workers’ compensation claim information

Failing to provide all of the information listed above could lead to a delay in your case.

Filing too early or too late

The Employment Development Department requires that you file your claim for SDI benefits within a certain time frame. You must wait nine days after you become disabled to file a claim. Also, you must file your claim within 49 days of becoming disabled. If you file a claim too late, you will have to include a letter explaining why you missed the deadline.

Not paying into SDI

To be eligible for benefits, you must be disabled and have paid into SDI. If you are an employee, you must have paid California SDI taxes and you must have earned at least $300 that is subject to SDI deductions. Before filing a claim, make sure that you have paid SDI taxes: look at your recent pay stub to see if “CASDI” is listed. If you are self-employed or a business owner, you can pay SDI taxes to get Elective Coverage. You can check this link for more information if you are in this situation.

Giving up on EDD

It can be difficult dealing with a government agency. The Employment Development Department staff can be extremely busy and hard to reach. The easiest way to apply for short-term disability benefits is to apply by mail or online. The EDD recommends that you create an account through the Benefit Programs Online to file and manage your disability claim. Once you file your claim, you can expect your application to take up to 14 days to process.

Social Security and Short-Term Disability Benefits

Receiving short-term disability benefits does not impact your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. In fact, many California residents receive short-term disability benefits as they wait for their SSDI application to process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows you to receive both SSDI benefits and short-term disability benefits at the same time.

The SSA may reduce your Social Security disability benefits for the time that you are eligible for both benefits if the combined amount of your SSDI and short-term disability benefits is above 80% of your pre-disability earnings. If you would like to check if you are eligible for SSDI benefits, you can take our free SSDI assessment quiz here. If you would like one of our Social Security Disability attorneys to review your situation for free, simply ask us a question or be called back regarding your SSDI eligibility, you can also send a message to LaPorte Law Firm here.


If you are currently on short-term disability benefits and you believe your disability will last at least 12 months, it may be time to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Contact LaPorte Law Firm for a free consultation.


The day you come unable to work due to your disability is the day your disability begins. Submit your claim within the following requirements:

  • Wait nine days after you become disabled to file your claim.
  • File your claim within 49 days of becoming disabled to avoid losing benefits.

To be eligible for short-term disability benefits, you must:

  • Be unable to do your regular or customary work due to your disability
  • Have lost wages
  • Be employed at the time your disability begins
  • Have earned at least $300 from which State Disability Insurance deductions were withheld
  • Be under the care of a licensed physician who completes the medical certification portion of your disability claim
Any mental or physical condition that affects your ability to work and has resulted in wage loss can qualify you for short-term disability benefits.
If you have reduced your work hours due to your disability, you may still qualify for short-term disability benefits. The Employment Development Department will determine if you work part-time, are now unable to perform your regular or customary work, and have lost wages due to your disability. If your wage loss is more than your weekly benefit amount, you will receive full short-term disability benefits. If the wage loss is less than your weekly benefit amount, you will only receive the amount of your wage loss.

Short-term disability benefits can last up to 52 weeks. If your condition persists beyond that, you may eligible to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. Contact LaPorte Law Firm for a free consultation on your situation.

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