State Disability Insurance for COVID-Positive Workers

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What is State Disability Insurance?

State Disability Insurance (SDI) provides partial income replacement (60-70% of your regular weekly wages) to workers who are unable to do their regular work due to a physical or mental health condition.

Am I eligible for State Disability Insurance?

You are eligible for SDI if:

  • You are unable to do your regular work due to a health condition, including COVID-19 symptoms, diagnosis, or
  • Your doctor or other health care professional certifies that you are unable to
  • You have paid into State Disability Insurance, usually through deductions from your Immigration status does not affect eligibility for State Disability Insurance.

How do I apply for State Disability Insurance?

You need to submit an application to the Employment Development Department (EDD).

First, we suggest that you contact your physician/practitioner or another healthcare provider that can certify that you are unable to work due to your medical condition. You may need to explain to your healthcare provider more about your COVID-19 related medical condition, the specific duties of your job, and why you are unable to perform them due to your medical condition. If you need help filling out your portion of the application, ask staff at the healthcare facility if they can help.

If you are filling out the application by yourself, you can do so online or using a paper application:

  • Online: Fill out your application online at https://edd.ca.gov/Disability/SDI_Online.htm. You will receive a Receipt Number at the end of the process, that you can bring to your health care provider for them to complete their portion of the application.
  • Paper application: If your clinic does not have paper applications available, you can order one from the EDD by calling 1-800-480-3287. Fill out the application and bring it to your health care provider for them to fill out their portion. Once the application is completed, mail it to the EDD at the address on the application.

Is State Disability Insurance the same as the two weeks of emergency paid sick leave for workers impacted by COVID-19?

No. COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave is paid directly by the employer. To get emergency paid sick leave, you must tell your employer the COVID-19 related reason you are unable to work. On the other hand, SDI is a benefit paid by the State of California. To get SDI, you must apply to the EDD, as described above.

Many workers that are unable to work due to their own COVID-19 related health condition first ask their employer for up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave.  If they were not eligible for emergency paid sick leave or exhaust their leave but are still unable to return to work, they will speak with their healthcare provider about applying for SDI.

Can I get SDI and emergency paid sick leave from my employer at the same time?

No. However, you can get State Disability Insurance in addition to your emergency paid sick leave if you are unable to work for more than two weeks due to COVID-19 illness or quarantine. You can also apply for SDI if you are not eligible for emergency paid sick leave or your employer is refusing to provide it. It is important to keep in mind that you must report any paid sick leave that you receive to the EDD if you apply for SDI.

How can I report paid sick leave I received to the EDD?

If you have not yet applied, there is a section of the application where you can report the paid sick leave you received. If you have already applied and received SDI, you should contact the EDD at 1-800-480-3287 as soon as you receive any paid sick leave for any weeks that you also received SDI. You will need to fill out a form to report the paid sick leave and will probably need to pay back your SDI benefits for those weeks.