California has made changes to its short-term disability insurance (SDI) program to help those affected by COVID-19. Workers who have to take time off work can receive SDI benefits equal to 60-70% of their pay, depending on their income level.
If you become ill with COVID-19 (coronavirus) and, as a result, cannot work, you are medically eligible for SDI payments. You can start to receive benefits for the first day off work (California has waived the seven-day waiting period so that you can collect benefits for the whole time you cannot work).
Medical Certification. To qualify for SDI, your doctor or nurse practitioner must submit a medical certification that you have COVID-19. The certification must include the start date of your illness, your diagnosis or statement of symptoms, and how long your inability to work is expected to last. A state or local health officer can also fill out this form.
Quarantine. You can also qualify for SDI benefits if you have been medically quarantined due to exposure to, or potential exposure to, coronavirus. Your quarantine must be certified by a medical professional or public health officer. For example, those who are still allowed to work in essential fields who are sidelined by a quarantine can file for SDI and be paid for their first day out of work.
Laid Off and Sick With COVID-19. You may be able to collect SDI benefits if you were laid off and looking for work at the time you became unable to work due to COVID-19 or coronavirus exposure, but you cannot collect SDI and unemployment benefits at the same time.
SDI payments are not just for workers who don't get any sick pay. While you cannot collect SDI payments at the same time that you collect full sick leave pay or PTO, you may be able to combine SDI payments and partial sick leave or partial PTO payments. (Your employer can agree to “integrate” the SDI benefit with your sick pay or PTO, by paying you just enough sick time or PTO so that you'll receive the same amount as your regular wages or salary.)
You can collect SDI payments and vacation pay at the same time without having your SDI payments reduced.
You can submit your SDI claim online on the EDD's website at SDI Online. After filing, give your form receipt number to your doctor so that your doctor can submit the medical certification at SDI Online. Follow up with your doctor's office to make sure the certification is uploaded within 30 days.
You might also qualify for benefits under the new federal emergency paid sick leave law, which takes effect on April 2, 2020.