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How State Disability Benefits differ from Social Security Disability Program

The state of California provides assistance to disabled employees through the state disability insurance program, commonly known as SDI or DI. Also referred to as “short term disability”, SDI pays benefit every other week.

Most employees are covered by SDI through payroll taxes. Even self-employed individuals may participate by enrolling in elective coverage and pay premiums based on profits from the previous year.

However some employees or group of employees are not covered by SDI. They include the following employees:

  • Domestic workers
  • Interstate railroad workers
  • Most government employees
  • Non-pro
  • Those with religious exemption
  • fit employees

State disability programs are available only in the states of California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Medical Eligibility

To qualify for these benefits, an employee must have an illness or injury, either physical or mental, resulting from elective surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition.

The employee can also avail of the Paid Family Leave to care for a sick relative. However, the relative’s mental or physical condition should require hospitalization, hospice care, or treatment in a medical facility.

State disability benefit also covers pregnancy and the benefit period is generally from four weeks before the pregnant employee’s due date to six weeks after delivery. If the pregnancy prevents the employee from working after that period, the condition must be indicated by the doctor on the claim form.

The Difference between SDI and Social Security disability Programs

Unlike Social Security disability programs, SDI is sponsored by the state and covers a wider range of disabilities lasting more than seven days. In short, it cover only short term disabilities.

SDI medical determination covers individuals who are unable to work in their usual or customary work and who are partially or totally disabled. It includes Paid Family Leave for employees who wanted to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child.

Social Security disability programs also require that one’s disability be a total disability, or a condition that will last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or can be expected to result in death. In addition, Social Security also requires that a person must not be unable to do his work, but he/she cannot engage in any other work – even in consideration of age, education and work experience.

On the other hand, an employee may still qualify for state disability insurance although he/ she is eligible for Social Security benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Being eligible for social security programs does not affect an employee’s eligibility nor the benefit amount of state disability benefits.

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