California Disability Benefits: Social Security Filing and Insurance

Find out about California's state supplemental payments, plus how to appeal a denial of Social Security disability or SSI and whether you qualify for Medicaid.

California disability applicants can obtain disability-based benefits from a number of sources, including federal programs, state disability programs provided by the state of California, and in limited instances, from employer disability programs. These programs provide income to disabled persons who are no longer able to participate in substantial gainful activity (work sufficient to provide a livable income) due to a long-term disability.

Social Security Disability Benefits  

For Californians with injuries or illness that are expected to last over a year, Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available. To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked a certain number of years and paid FICA or SECA taxes. To qualify for SSI, you must have low income and assets.  

While you apply with the Social Security  Administration  for both of these programs, California's  Disability Determination Service Division (DDSD), an agency under the California Department of Social Services, handles the initial determination on the claim. A disability claims examiner at DDSD gathers your medical records and decides whether you qualify for disability benefits. DDSD has 11 offices in California, including branches in Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, Fresno, and San Diego.

California State Supplement to SSI

California pays SSI recipients an extra "state supplement," which helps account for the higher cost of living in much of California. The supplement ranges from $171 per month to $407 per month, depending on your living arrangements (whether you live on your own, with or without cooking facilities, or with another person). The Social Security Administration administers the state supplement, so SSI recipients in California get one combined check. Here are state and federal SSI amounts:


California Benefit

California and Federal Benefit Combined

Living independently with cooking Facilities

Individual: $171
Couple: $396

Individual: $892
Couple: $1,478

Living independently without cooking facilities

Individual: $255
Couple: $564

Individual: $976
Couple: $1,646

Living in nonmedical out-of-home care situation

Individual: $407
Couple: $1,045

Individual: $1,128
Couple: $2,127

Living in the household of another

Individual: $190
Couple: $401

Individual: $911
Couple: $1,483

Short-Term Disability Benefits  

California is one of just a few states that provide short-term disability insurance (SDI) for those who are unable to work for less than a year due to injury or sickness. The California Employee Development Department (EDD) handles these disability claims. For more  information, see our articles on  California's short-term disability insurance program.

Employer-Based Disability Benefits  

Some employers provide short-term disability (STD) and long-term  disability (LTD) insurance coverage for their employees through private insurance companies.  

Getting Legal Help with California Disability Benefits

If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits (California has a 70% denial rate), LTD/STD benefits, or SDI benefits, you may want to consult with a disability lawyer to get help with your appeal.  If you're interesting in hiring a disability lawyer, see our  California disability lawyer page.

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