SDI and Other Programs

Social Security Disability Programs

State Disability Insurance (SDI) benefits generally last a year or less. If you and your doctor/medical provider think that you are going to be disabled for longer than a year, you should apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a federal disability insurance program that you pay into through payroll taxes. If you’ve paid into the system for a long enough period of time, you can get this benefit. SSDI requires that your disability last longer than a year, so it can pick up where SDI leaves off. If you are on SSDI and SDI at the same time, your SSDI will be reduced.

You should also consider applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you expect your disability to last longer than a year, or if you haven't worked long enough to get SSDI. This is a federal income program that provides a benefit for low-income people who have a disability, are blind, or are at least 65. If you get SSI and SDI at the same time, your SSI benefit goes down.

For both of these programs, you should apply right away, as claims can take more than a year to be processed.

Workers’ Compensation

SDI is for non-work-related disabilities. If your injury or illness happens on the job, it's covered under an employer-paid insurance program called Workers’ Compensation (WC). You generally cannot get WC and SDI at the same time. However, you can get SDI while waiting for a WC claim to be approved. For more details, the Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Workers’ Compensation explains What to Do If You're Injured at Work and provides A Guidebook for Injured Workers.

Unemployment Insurance

There’s also a separate insurance program for the unemployed. If you’re out of work and disabled, it’s generally a good idea to apply for SDI benefits before applying for Unemployment Insurance.

  • SDI can give you a larger benefit for a longer period of time than UI.
  • You won't get UI benefits if you're not able to look for work and accept work if it's offered, and
  • You can't get UI and SDI at the same time.

Learn more about Unemployment Insurance.