What you don't know about Unemployment Insurance can hurt you

If you are unable to work due to a disability, you should not apply for Unemployment Insurance. Some people who have a disabling condition at the time of job loss--for example, a lay off--apply for Unemployment Insurance instead of State Disability Insurance. They may not know about the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. The SDI benefit may provide a higher benefit for a greater period of time if you are unable to work due to a disability. An application to Unemployment Insurance can lead to problems if you are unable to work due to a disability. If you learn about SDI after applying for Unemployment Insurance, it is possible to transition from Unemployment Insurance to SDI when you would normally have continued on Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Giving up on EDD because they are difficult to reach

In order to get State Disability Insurance (SDI) or Paid Family Leave (PFL), you need to fill out their applications properly. Often, these applications can be confusing or the Employment Development Department (EDD) may not seem responsive to the application you submitted. If you have questions about the application or your status, it is very important to contact the EDD. Click here for contact information, including online chat, phone numbers, and office locations.

If you plan to call by phone, consider calling one of the non-English phone numbers -- the people who answer them are knowledgeable about SDI and speak English in addition to the other language. You may need to try various different methods to contact the EDD, because the main English phone line is often busy. It can be frustrating trying to contact EDD because they are very busy and hard to get a hold of, but it is very important.

DB101 cannot answer questions about your SDI claim. If you have questions, please contact EDD.

Personal denial of your disability

It is common for individuals to have periods of time when they deny a disabling condition exists, to themselves, to their families, and to their medical providers. For some, it is a first approach to coping with a new condition. During this period of time, an individual's communication with medical providers may not accurately or fully describe the severity of a condition or how seriously it affects day-to-day activities. In most cases, the State Disability Insurance program will make its determination based on the medical provider's statement. If the medical provider does not know the impact of the disability, the report made on the State Disability Insurance application will be inaccurate or incomplete, which can affect eligibility and the length of time the benefit will be awarded. In some cases, an additional independent medical examination is conducted and paid for by the state.

Failure to share information with your medical provider while applying for benefits

Many people do not clearly discuss their plans to apply for benefits with their medical providers. Ideally, you and your medical provider should share complete information to assess the duration of your disabling condition(s). If this step is not included, you may end up with a State Disability or other benefit program application that does not reflect how long the disabling condition may last or how it affects your day to day activities.

Filing late for benefits

State Disability Insurance requires that you apply for this benefit within 49 days from the date the disability began, called the onset date. Because many are unaware of State Disability Insurance, they lose the opportunity to access this benefit due to late filing. If you are filing late, you will need to submit a letter stating good cause with your application. You may be able to adjust your onset date before you file your claim.

Short work histories in California

Some individuals may not have contributed for the full eighteen months to State Disability Insurance through a California employer or through elective coverage for self-employment. This may be for a variety of reasons, such as a recent move to California, short work history, or newly enrolling in elective coverage. If you fall into one of these categories, you may still be eligible for benefits based on the disability onset date. This date determines the base period wages and your benefit amount. You can't have a total benefit that exceeds your base period wages, so your benefit may not last the full 52 week benefit period (39 weeks for elective coverage).

Lack of documentation

The more specifically you document your medical condition, the easier it will be to support a claim and to make a case for continuing benefits. Detailing in a daily journal even the most seemingly insignificant symptoms can be of great value. If you or the individual are too ill, or can't maintain the journal on a daily basis, a friend or relative can log the entries. This journal can also provide you with a way to inform providers about your medical condition.