California workers who are unable to work due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy, may be eligible for state disability insurance (SDI) benefits. Unlike Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits, which may last the beneficiary's entire lifetime, SDI benefits generally last a year. There are several requirements to obtain SDI. In order to qualify, you must:
1. Be unable to do your regular or customary work for at least eight consecutive days. 2. Be employed or actively looking for work at the time your disability begins. 3. Have lost wages because of your disability or, if unemployed, have been actively looking for work. 4. Have earned at least $300 from which SDI deductions were withheld during a previous period. 5. Be under the care and treatment of a licensed physician/practitioner or accredited religious practitioner during the first eight days of your disability. The date a claim begins can be adjusted if it does not meet this requirement. You must remain under care and treatment to continue receiving benefits. 6. Complete and submit your claim form (DE 2501) no later than 49 days after your disability begins or you may lose benefits. The first day you may submit a claim form is nine days after the first day your disability begins. 7. Have your physician/practitioner complete the medical certification of your disability.
If you and your doctor believe that you will be disabled for more than a year, or that your condition will result in death, then you should apply for both SDI and SSDI / SSI. SDI benefits are generally paid far more quickly than SSDI / SSI benefits. In fact, for SDI, there is a mere seven day waiting period for all disabilities before benefits are paid. Benefits are issued from the eighth day forward. SDI normally processes applications within 14 days from the date of receipt. Social Security recipients, on the other hand, often wait years before receiving a check.