California Disability Insurance: What you need to know

California law requires employers to participate in the state short-term disability insurance (SDI) program (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 2601 et seq.). The law permits substitution of a private plan, but only with the consent of a majority of employees (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 3254). Such a private plan must also provide benefit rights greater than the state plan.
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The law applies to all employers (including employers of agricultural labor) that paid wages of $100 or more in any calendar quarter of the previous year (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 2606 and Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 676). Individuals performing domestic service who earn at least $750 in a calendar quarter are also covered (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 2606.5). Some services for local public entities are covered, and others may elect coverage.
The actual coverage requirements are substantially the same as those under the California Unemployment Insurance Code.
To be eligible to receive SDI benefits, an employee must have earned a minimum of $300 in wages from which SDI contributions were withheld during the base period (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 2652). The base period covers a year and is divided into four consecutive quarters. It includes wages subject to SDI tax that were paid approximately five to 18 months before an individual’s disability, care, or bonding claim began. Late claims may result in a reduction in benefits.
Upon request of the director, claimants may be required to submit to an examination. There is a one-week waiting period for benefits (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 2627).
If a claim begins in January, February, or March, the base period is the 12 months ending the previous ...

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