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Short-Term Disability Insurance in California

Happy disabled woman reaidng a letter

Even a short time away from work can put an employee in a tough spot. A worker can miss out on wages, lose seniority, and face other hardships, all while trying to cover rising medical expenses. If you were injured and unable to work, you might be able to rely on short-term disability insurance (STDI) provided by the state, if you qualify. Learn more about California STDI below, and contact an experienced Arcadia workers’ compensation attorney to find out if you qualify.

What is Short-Term Disability Insurance?

Short-term disability insurance (STDI) is insurance protection meant to cover your expenses and lost income for a short period of time. While long-term disability insurance (LTDI) is meant to cover you for a longer period, up to the rest of your life, short-term disability fills in the gap either until you recover or until your LTDI kicks in. STDI typically lasts between three and six months, although in California STDI may last for up to a year. STDI policies are cheaper than LTDI, but they are meant to be a temporary fix. Workers can purchase private STDI coverage on their own or receive it through their employment as a fringe benefit. The State of California has an STDI program, as well.

California State STDI

The State of California requires all employers to pay into its short-term disability insurance program through payroll deductions. State-funded STDI is available to most Californians, with limited exceptions.

Those who are ineligible for California STDI include:

  • Government workers
  • Certain domestic workers
  • Interstate railroad workers
  • Some non-profit employees, including religious organizations
  • Self-employed individuals or business owners who do not pay for elective coverage

Most Californians are eligible for state STDI coverage. California’s state STDI offers weekly benefits ranging from $50 up to $1,300 (in 2020), depending on the income of the disabled worker. Typically, a worker will receive 60-70 percent of their income for the covered time period. Employers can also offer private, voluntary STDI plans. These plans must be at least as comprehensive as the California state plan and must offer some additional features or coverage.

What Qualifies for Short-Term Disability Coverage?

The exact terms of your policy may differ, but the baseline STDI policies (including the state-sponsored coverage) are intended to cover disabling injuries that were not caused by work-related accidents. (Employees injured at work generally go through workers’ compensation.) Disability generally means a condition that prevents you from performing the regular and customary duties of your job, not that you cannot perform any job. STDI also typically covers pregnancy (for two to four weeks before the due date and four weeks after birth) as well as recovery from elective and cosmetic surgeries, provided a doctor certifies the worker is disabled.

Workers may be ineligible for STDI benefits under certain circumstances, including the following:

  • The worker is already receiving sufficient workers’ compensation, unemployment, paid family leave, or sick leave benefits
  • The worker missed their eligibility doctor’s appointment
  • The worker is incarcerated or otherwise unable to work as a result of committing a felony

Sick pay and paid time off (PTO) will typically be deducted from the STDI benefit amount. An employer can also choose to pay a worker just enough sick pay/PTO to combine with the STDI and total their normal wage. If you are receiving more sick pay or PTO than you would get in STDI, you do not receive STDI.

Get Help from a Dedicated Arcadia Workplace Injury Attorney

For help responding to a denial of your California STDI or workers’ compensation claim, call the Arcadia workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Dulio Chavez II & Associates for a no-cost, confidential consultation. We’ll take the time to evaluate your situation and let you know how we can help.

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