You may be aware that employees who are hurt at work are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. But what happens if a person suffers an injury off the job? While there is no federal short-term disability program, workers can seek income replacement benefits through state and private programs for a period of time while they’re unable to work. Here’s an overview of California’s state disability insurance (SDI) and short-term disability (STD) and how to apply for each.
STATE DISABILITY INSURANCE (SDI)
If you’ve ever examined your pay stub, you may have noticed that a small portion of your wage (1 percent in 2018) is taken out for state disability insurance (SDI). In the event you develop a physical or mental disability and are unable to work, SDI takes money from this fund and provides you with a weekly benefit check to replace some of your lost income. In California, the SDI fund also provides benefits to women who are unable to work due to pregnancy. Those who need to take paid family leave to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child may also apply for SDI benefits.
To apply for state disability insurance you’ll need to gather basic documents proving your identity, including your social security number and California driver’s license or state ID. Have information about your most recent employment and disability on hand, too. Then, create an account on the EDD SDI website to process your application online, or order a physical claim form via mail. After you’ve set up your account or received your claim form, use the information you’ve gathered to fill out Part A. Ask the doctor who is treating you for your disability to complete Part B of your claim form before submitting your application online or mailing it to your nearest SDI office. Most benefits are issued within two weeks of when EDD receives your completed application.
SHORT-TERM DISABILITY (STD)
We all pay for car insurance to protect ourselves from the expenses of a vehicle accident. Similarly, you can purchase private short-term disability (STD) insurance to replace some of your income for a set period of time while you recover from an injury or illness. Some employers provide STD as part of their benefits package, while others don’t offer it at all. The first step is to ask your Human Resources department if such a benefit is available through your company. If your employer doesn’t offer STD or you’d like additional coverage, you can apply for a policy with a private insurance carrier.
To apply for short-term disability, perform an Internet for “short-term disability private insurer” and compare your options for coverage and pricing. You’ll also want to look at how long you have to wait before you can collect benefits. When you decide on a provider, the carrier will provide you with a licensed insurance agent who will send you an application. As with any other bill, you’ll need to make timely payments or set up automatic withdrawals from your bank, if offered. In the event you become disabled, you will call your insurance company and file a claim – just as you would in a car accident. Keep a detailed account of information pertaining to your injury or illness, including the date you were first unable to work and the names of all treating hospitals and physicians.
Remember to make a copy of your claim form and send it certified mail, return receipt requested, to the insurance carrier. You should hear back regarding your claim in a few weeks. If you don’t, contact your insurance agent directly to check on the status of your claim.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND DISABILITY COMPENSATION: CAN I COLLECT BOTH?
Unlike workers’ compensation, which provides benefits to employees who are hurt on the job, state disability insurance and short-term disability are designed to offer income-replacement benefits to those with disabilities unrelated to work. Generally, a worker isn’t allowed to collect both types of benefits at the same time. There are exceptions, though. The best way to find out if you’re eligible for workers’ compensation and disability compensation is to schedule a free consultation with the best attorneys in San Diego.
Call The Law Office of Matthew Russell today at (619) 544-1506.