State Disability Insurance (Temporary Disability Benefits)

  1. What is State Disability Insurance ("SDI")?

    SDI is designed to protect people from wage loss when they are unable to perform their regular work due to illness or injury. Both physical and mental injuries or disabilities are covered under the SDI program. A person is eligible for coverage if she cannot do her regular work and is unemployed when she applies for benefits.

  2. Who is eligible for disability payments?

    Almost all workers in California are covered by the program. If you earned more than $300 during your base period, you should be eligible for SDI.

    Employees in certain jobs are not covered, such as casual workers, domestic workers making less than $1000 per quarter, in-home supportive services, election campaign workers, independent contractors and student workers working for their school.

  3. What is the base period?

    The base period is a 12-month period beginning about 18 months from the date on which you file your SDI claim. To determine the base period for a claim, use the following table:

    If you filed your claim in: ...the Base Period is the 12-month period ending the previous:
    January, February, March September 30
    April, May, June December 31
    July, August, September March 31
    October, November, December June 30

    For example, if you applied for SDI on January 1, 2012, your base period would be October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011.

  4. How much am I eligible to receive from SDI?

    For disabilities beginning January 1, 2010, benefits range from $50 to $987 per week for up to 52 weeks, depending on the length of the temporary disability.

  5. Can I collect unemployment insurance benefits at the same time I'm collecting SDI?

  6. If I'm injured on the job, am I eligible to collect SDI?

    No, if you’re injured on the job, you should qualify for coverage under Workers’ Compensation insurance benefits. (See our Fact Sheet Workers’ Compensation: Temporary Disability Benefits for more information.) If the amount of money paid to you from your workers’ compensation benefits is less than your SDI benefits would be, then your SDI benefits should cover the difference. Also, if your employer disputes your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits, you should apply for SDI benefits until the dispute is settled.

  7. I am self-employed. Does the SDI Program cover me?

    SDI does not cover self-employed people unless they choose to be covered by the law. To be covered see § 704-708.5 of the California Unemployment Insurance Code.

  8. Am I eligible for SDI benefits if I am undocumented, or was undocumented during my base period?

    You cannot be denied benefits because you are or were undocumented if you are otherwise qualified. You paid into the program through paycheck deductions, and have the right to collect your benefits.

  9. How long can I receive SDI benefits?

    You can receive benefits for up to one year from the date you apply. If your disability continues past one year, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income. You should check with your local Social Security office for more information about these programs.

For further information about your employment rights, contact the Workers’ Rights Clinic.


This Fact Sheet is intended to provide accurate, general information regarding legal rights relating to employment in California. Yet because laws and legal procedures are subject to frequent change and differing interpretations, the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center cannot ensure the information in this Fact Sheet is current nor be responsible for any use to which it is put. Do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney or the appropriate agency about your rights in your particular situation.