The fastest way to apply for paid family leave (PFL) benefits is online. The California Employment Development Department (EDD)—the state agency that administers PFL benefits—has a website where you can submit your application. To do so, you will first need to register through the SDI online portal. Once you have created an account, you will be able to sign in and file a new PFL claim. If you prefer, you can also file your PFL claim by mail, although it will take longer to process.
You can file your claim as early as nine days before your leave starts or as late as 49 days after your leave starts. However, if you miss the 49-day deadline, you will lose your right to collect benefits. For that reason, it is best to file your claim as soon as possible.
Once you file your claim, be sure to log into SDI online regularly to check your messages. The EDD will not email you every time you receive a new message in your inbox. If you forget to check your account, you might miss important messages, such as requests from the EDD for additional information or documentation.
For more information on how to apply for PFL benefits, including what documents you need to complete the process, see our overview article on California paid family leave laws.
How Much Are California Paid Family Leave Benefits?
California paid family leave benefits are paid at 55% of an employee’s wages for up to six weeks. However, there is a cap on benefits that affects high earners. As of January 1, 2017, you cannot receive more than $1,173 per week. And, there’s a one-week waiting period before any benefits are paid. In other words, your first week of leave will not be paid by the state.
California approved multiple changes to the PFL program beginning on January 1, 2018. Most notably, the benefit amount will increase to between 60% and 70% of an employee’s wages, depending on how much the employee earns. The one-week waiting period will also disappear, so that benefits are paid immediately.
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