Getting California Short-Term Disability Benefits During the Coronavirus Outbreak

California has made it easier and faster for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak to get SDI benefits.

By , Attorney

California has announced several changes to its short-term disability insurance (SDI) rules in response to the coronavirus outbreak. These changes take effect immediately. The SDI program in California provides short-term benefit payments to workers who are off work due to a non-work-related illness or injury.

New SDI Rules for Coronavirus

If you are unable to work due to having COVID-19 or being exposed to the novel coronavirus, you are medically eligible for SDI payments. You must submit medical documentation to qualify for SDI under these circumstances. If you have coronavirus yourself, you must submit a medical certification signed by a doctor or public health officer that includes a diagnosis of COVID-19 (or a statement of symptoms), the start date of your illness, and its probable duration.

If you are quarantined due to coronavirus exposure or potential exposure, you should be able to qualify for SDI benefits if your quarantine is certified by a medical professional or public health officer.

The usual one-week waiting period for SDI has also been waived, so that you can collect benefits for the first week you are out of work.

For information on other eligibility rules and benefit amounts, see our article on the California short-term disability insurance program.

When to File for Paid Family Leave Instead

If you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with coronavirus, you should file a paid family leave claim instead. This program provides up to six weeks of benefits. For more information, see our article on California's paid family leave program.

When to File for Unemployment

If you are denied SDI benefits for being off work due to being quarantined, you can file an unemployment claim. If you are working from home and your hours have been reduced due to coronavirus, you might also qualify for unemployment benefits. Note that you cannot collect SDI and unemployment benefits at the same time.

Submitting a Claim

You can submit your SDI or paid family leave claim online on the EDD's website at SDI Online. To file an unemployment claim, go to UI Online.

You might also qualify for benefits under the new federal emergency paid sick leave law, which takes effect on April 2, 2020.

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