Keeping the Money Coming in While You Can't Work
If you are temporarily unable to work at your job while you are recovering from an industrial injury you are entitled to temporary disability (TD). The insurance industry had their way with the legislature in 2004 (SB-899) and now there is a two year cap on this benefit. For injuries after January 1, 2008 TD can be paid out in broken periods for up to five years (not to exceed a total of 2 years paid). There are a few very narrow exceptions to the two year cap that simply don’t apply to the vast majority of injured workers. So you must make plans in the event that your condition prevents you from quickly reentering the work force.
So, what happens if you are at the end of your two year limit on TD and having not yet finished your medical treatment, are still unable to work?
A very important tip for your journey:
I heartily recommend that you file for State Disability (SDI) while you are on TD. You can get an additional year of wage replacement if you qualify. That deduction for “SDI” you have been diligently paying all those years is finally going to pay off.
Normally you can’t get TD and SDI at the same time. But, by filing for SDI as soon as possible, (and informing them that you are currently receiving TD) you can lock in the date you applied.
The Employment Development Department (EDD) normally denies your claim if you are getting TD, but if you need to re-apply because your workers’ compensation benefits terminate, your qualification will be determined by the date you applied for SDI. Eligibility for SDI is determined from previous work history. While you are on TD you could fall out of your “insured status” period for SDI. Then you are out of luck--no benefits to fall back on--very bad news indeed. So if you timely file for SDI, you can preserve your rights to collect it when the Workers’ Comp benefits run dry.
The standard rule of thumb is that you have to have paid into the SDI system for 17 months prior to your disability to draw the benefit. Take a look at you old pay stubs; does it note a deduction for SDI? If you paid this deduction for 17 months, you are normally gold. Get on your computer and go to the California Employment Development Department (edd.ca.gov) and get the application process started. You can also find your “payment” history to see if you have paid into the program long enough to receive benefits.
Be careful here, you do not want to get paid TD and EDD benefits at the same time. If someone at the EDD is not paying attention that could happen. You cannot “double dip” (get TD and SDI benefits at the same rate at the same time) that is a huge “no no” if someone is knowingly doing it, it is fraud. But you are entitled to the “differential” if your EDD weekly benefit is higher than your TD benefit.
If you are a state employee, you need to think about filing for PERS disability. If you have a policy of short/long term disability provided as part of your benefits, you need to put applying for this benefit high on your To Do list. They have an internet site for that too – (Calpers.ca.gov).
If it appears that your injury is serious enough to preclude you from doing any work, you need to consider an application for SSD/SSI as they have the same window period issues and require prompt application.