State Disability Insurance (SDI) is a program of the Employment Development Department (EDD). Most California employees have a small part of their income taken out of their paychecks for SDI. This money goes into a state fund. If you have paid into the fund and can’t work because of a disability not related to your job, SDI takes money from the fund and pays you a benefit. The idea is to replace income you’re losing while you can’t work. The SDI program also replaces income you lose when you can’t work because of pregnancy, or take time off to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child. Click here for a list of the “events” that SDI covers. If you can't work because of a job-related injury, there is a separate program called Workers’ Compensation. Some employees are not covered by SDI.

SDI is an insurance program. Insurance programs work by having a large group of people pay a monthly fee, called a premium, to receive a benefit when certain events happen. If you have fire insurance, for example, you pay a monthly premium that goes into a fund along with the premiums of everyone else on the policy. If your house burns down, the insurance company will take money from that fund and give you a check. The system works because most of the people paying premiums don’t ever have a fire, but they want to be protected in case they do.

This article focuses on SDI for people with disabilities and Paid Family Leave (PFL) for people taking care of a person with a disability. It does not focus on pregnancy-based disability leave. For more information about Pregnancy Disability Leave, contact the EDD.

Note: DB101 cannot answer your questions about your SDI claim. If you want to apply for SDI, or have questions about your claim, please contact the EDD.