How Often Do You Get Paid on Disability in California?

How Often Do You Get Paid on Disability in California Featured Image

Curious about the frequency of disability payments in California? This blog dives into the frequency of financial support for disability beneficiaries in the Golden State. From the timing of monthly disbursements to the factors influencing payment schedules, explore the nuances of this vital support system for persons with disabilities in California.

But first, let’s find out what benefits are available to Californians with disabilities.

California State Disability Insurance (SDI) Explained

California’s State Disability Insurance (SDI) is a disability benefit that offers partial wage replacement for eligible California workers. The SDI program is administered by California’s Employment Development Department (EDD). SDI is a short-term disability benefit for people who have a disability, either physical or mental, that prevents them from performing their customary work.

To be eligible for the benefit, you must have made SDI contributions that are paid through employee payroll deductions. To determine if you have made SDI contributions, you can look at your pay stubs. If you see “CA SDI” on your pay stub, you have paid into the California State Disability Insurance program through the state-mandated employee tax. For SDI eligibility, an employee must have earned at least $300 in wages during the previous 12 months from which SDI was withheld through payroll deductions.

Eligible individuals must demonstrate that they are disabled under EDD’s rules. A disability is an illness or injury that prevents you from performing your regular and customary work. The disability must preclude regular or customary work for at least eight days and result in lost wages.

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 SDI disability benefits for a maximum of one year. 

After you file your claim, you can expect to receive your first benefit payment within two weeks of filing your claim. You

Social Security Disability (SSDI/SSI) In a Nutshell

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. These benefits are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), a federal agency. SSDI and SSI are long-term disability benefits for people who are unable to perform work due to their physical or mental disability.

SSDI eligibility is based on your work history and the contributions you have made to Social Security through your federal income taxes. With these income tax deductions, you must have earned sufficient work credits. Generally, you must acquire 40 work credits to be eligible, 20 of which must come in the last 10 years of employment before your disability began. 

SSI eligibility, on the other hand, is decided based on your income and resources. You may be eligible for SSI if you have little or no income and resources. The value of your assets and the things you own must be less than $2,000 if you are single or less than $3,000 for married couples living together.

SSDI– or SSI-eligible individuals must demonstrate that they are unable to perform work because of a severe physical or mental impairment that is expected to result in death or has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. Therefore, the Social Security disability program is for long-term disability, whereas California SDI is for short-term disability because the benefit only lasts for 12 months.

Your SSDI monthly benefit is based on your average covered earnings over a period of time, referred to as your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). The Social Security Administration uses these earnings in a formula to determine your benefit amount. You can use the SSA’s online benefit calculator to estimate your unique monthly disability benefit based on your history of earnings. 

On the other hand, your SSI monthly benefit provides money to meet your basic needs. In 2024, the maximum SSI payment is $942 for an individual and $1,415 for a couple. There is an additional benefit for SSI recipients in California. The SSI benefit in California is a combination of funds from the SSA and California’s State Supplemental Program. In California in 2024, the maximum SSI payment for individuals is $1,182.95 for an individual and $2,022.83 for a couple. 

Comparison of California SDI and SSDI/SSI

California SDI and SSDI/SSI benefits provide monetary benefits for disabled individuals. But there are many important differences to be aware of.


California SDI is administered by the state of California through the Employment Development Department. California SDI is funded by payroll taxes paid by employees and employers in California.

Meanwhile, SSDI and SSI are administered by the federal government, specifically the Social Security Administration. SSDI and SSI are funded by Social Security taxes, a part of the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) tax. 

Eligibility requirements

Individuals who cannot perform their regular work due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy may be eligible for California SDI benefits. An employee must demonstrate that they have lost wages due to their disability and they are unable to perform their regular work for at least eight consecutive days. To prove disability, the employee must be under the care of a licensed physician who will complete a medical certification of the disability.

On the other hand, Individuals who cannot perform their past work or any other work due to a permanent disability may be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits. Eligible individuals must demonstrate that they cannot perform work due to a permanent disability, which is defined by the SSA as a severe physical or mental condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months. To prove disability, the Social Security Administration reviews your medical records to determine if you have the capability of performing your past work or performing other full-time work.

Process of filing a claim

California SDI applications are filed through the EDD. You can apply online by creating an account on the EDD’s website to file and manage your claim. Submitting a claim online is the fastest way to have your claim processed. Note that you must complete and submit your claim no earlier than nine days after your first day of disability begins but no later than 49 days after your disability begins. Once you submit your claim, you must have your physician complete the medical certification portion of your disability claim.  Once a properly completed claim application is received, the EDD will determine eligibility within two to four weeks.

SSDI and SSI applications are filed with your local Social Security Administration field office. To find your local Social Security Administration office, use the SSA Office Locator tool. Claims can also be filed online. Here is the link to apply for benefits online. 

SSI and SSDI benefit applications can be complicated. We recommend you contact an experienced attorney to determine the best time to apply for benefits. Once the application is filed, processing times vary, and the Social Security Administration is not bound by any deadlines. Typically, it takes SSA approximately seven or more months to approve or deny the application. 

Payment frequency

California SDI benefit payments can be paid at different frequencies. Typically, payments are issued every two weeks. You can select your payment option when you file your claim.

  • EDD debit card: Benefits are issued on your EDD debit card within 24 hours of processing your certification and are immediately available to you.
  • EDD checks by mail: Benefits are issued by EDD check within 24 hours of processing your certification. Allow 7–10 days for delivery of checks in the mail.

SSDI and SSI benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due. For example, benefits for December 2020 are paid in January 2021. SSDI and SSI benefits can be paid into your bank account via direct deposit. If you do not have a bank account for direct deposit of benefits, you can receive benefits on a Direct Express Debit Mastercard.

Benefit duration

As previously discussed, California SDI is a short-term disability benefit. If the beneficiary cannot perform their regular work, benefits can last for up to one year.

SSDI and SSI, on the other hand, are long-term disability benefits. The benefits will continue as long as the beneficiary remains disabled and unable to work. As long as your disability persists, the SSA will continue to pay your SSDI benefits until you reach full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age, your SSDI benefits will stop, and you will automatically receive your retirement benefit. To learn more information about when SSDI ends, you can learn more in our blog articleWill Your SSDI Last Forever? 


Generally, you do not need an attorney to file a claim for California SDI benefits. However, if you miss the deadline for filing a claim for California SDI, you should consult an attorney regarding your right to an appeal. For denied claims, California EDD will send you a Notice of Determination, which will state the reasons for your denial. You can appeal the denial of your California SDI application by filing an Appeal Form (DE 1000A)

In contrast, research shows that an attorney representative increases the chances of you winning an SSDI or SSI claim at the initial application stage. According to a National Bureau of Economic Research study on legal representation in disability claims, having a legal representative increased the probability of initial awards and reduced the need for appeals. However, if your SSDI or SSI claim is denied at the application stage, having an attorney or advocate can still be beneficial, as they can help you navigate the appeals process. 

Ensure you receive your California SDI and SSDI/SSI benefits on time by partnering with us at LaPorte Law Firm. Our experienced team will guide you through every step, maximizing your chances of success. Don’t delay — let us help you secure the benefits you deserve. Contact us today.


For SDI benefits, the maximum benefit period is one year. For SSI and SSDI benefits, the disability benefits will continue until you reach full retirement age or you are no longer disabled.

Once your application is submitted for California SDI benefits, it takes the EDD approximately 2–4 weeks to process the application and issue benefits. The process for SSDI and SSI benefits takes much longer. Once the application for SSDI or SSI benefits is submitted, it takes the SSA approximately 6–8 months to process the application. If your SSI or SSDI application is denied, you can file subsequent appeals that will lengthen the process.


If you work part time, you may still receive SDI benefits. You may apply for and be eligible for SDI benefits if your disability results in working fewer hours or days than your normal weekly schedule, resulting in a loss of wages. The EDD will first determine what you earned on a weekly basis before your disability began. Then, they will subtract what you are currently earning working part time. The difference between the two is your wage loss. If your wage loss is more than your weekly benefit amount, you will receive your full SDI benefit. If your wage loss is less than your weekly benefit amount, you will receive the amount of your wage loss.

Similarly, under certain circumstances, you may work part time and still receive SSI or SSDI benefits. You can continue to receive SSDI or SSI benefits if you work below substantial gainful activity (SGA) levels. SGA is the earnings threshold used by the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility for disability benefits. In 2024, that amount is set at $1,550 in gross income per month if you are employed by an employer, $1,550 in net income if you are self-employed. If you work on a part-time basis and your earnings are below the SGA levels, you will continue to receive your full SSDI benefit.

For California SDI, SSDI, and SSI disability payments, the benefit will end when you return to work on a sustained basis. Your California SDI benefit will end when your disability no longer results in any loss in wages. Your SSI benefits will end if you work at substantial gainful activity. In addition, your SSI benefits may be reduced if you receive earned income. A person who is receiving SSI cannot have income that exceeds certain limits. For instance, you cannot receive SSI benefits if your resources are more than $2,000 as an individual. The SSA will also subtract any income it does not count from your total gross income. They will subtract your income from your SSI benefit after excluding the first $65 of what you earn. 

If you receive SSDI benefits, you are permitted a trial work period. The trial work period allows you to test your ability to work for nine months while you receive your SSDI benefits. You will continue to receive your full SSDI benefit payments during this time, no matter how much you earn. The trial work period continues until you work nine months within a 60-month period. The months counted toward your trial work period do not need to be consecutive. Once you complete your trial work period, if you continue to work at substantial gainful levels, your SSDI benefits will end. To learn more about the trial work period and how work affects your benefits, you can check out our blog article here

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