Lawyer or resource to help navigate EDD for maternity leave

Hello - I am self-employed, about to have a baby and have been denied CA state disability even though I think I qualify. I am currently appealing the decision but I'm struggling with the lack of transparency and guidance from EDD. Does anyone have a resource for helping navigate the appeals process or someone with a thorough understanding of CA disability and paid family leave policies to see what my options are at this point?

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EDD is a mess since the pandemic. Please call your state senator or legislator to help you. I am lawyer. We have no more access to the system than you do. Your elected representative has an aide with an EDD hotline

Hi there — 

I was l having trouble as well and it turns out I filled out my paperwork wrong. Each state congressional member actually has an EDD liaison assigned to their office. If you call your congressional member they can help you. It may work to try this first before a lawyer. I did this for myself and they fixed my application in less than a week and also helped for my PFL. You can use this to determine who to contact: https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov 

To qualify for disability and paid family leave if you're self-employed, you have to pay into Disability Insurance Elective Coverage (DIEC). You must have been paying into DIEC for at least six months before you can apply for disability or PFL, and you have to stay in the program for two full years or they will ask you to repay any benefits. So first--confirm that you enrolled in DIEC before last May. The EDD website tracks contributions, or you can gather any payment receipts you have. Disability and PFL payments are also based on your earning during your "base period," so earnings during those quarters will determine your benefits. (These are the earnings you report to the state each quarter.) For a claim starting this month, they'll be looking at your earnings from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

I don't think you need a lawyer at this stage--go through the appeals process first if you're sure you're enrolled in DIEC and have made the necessary payments. Collect the receipts for your DIEC payments and for your quarterly taxes--if you file online, they should have this all in their system, but if you file paper-based returns there may be a lag in processing them. Hopefully once they have everything documented clearly, they'll reverse the appeal. Good luck!

You might consider contacting your State Assembly person. A different context, but I was having an issue with getting EDD to process a PFL claim and after contacting my Assembly Member, Mia Bonta, had it processed in just a few days. It's clear from the process I worked through w her office that they are set up to deal w a lot of constituent issues with EDD

I recently went through the process for disability & paid family leave and I'm self employed. Feel free to message me. Basically, you have to have paid into voluntary disability insurance prior to taking leave or have W-2 income from which state disability is paid out. I had a client pay me last year on a W-2 and those earnings qualified me for disability. 

I don't think Akiko is a lawyer, but she does run https://www.maternityleave411.com/ and was an INVALUABLE resource for me as I tried to figure out what leave my partner and I were entitled to, and how to apply, and how to talk to my employers... it was literally the best prenatal money I spent, and I felt it was quite inexpensive for the value I got.

She reviewed all our employee handbooks and union documents to see how those benefits fit with the state programs, and she created a leave schedule we brought to our employers based on our goals (do you want to take all the leave you can, or just the paid leave, etc. -- you tell her what you want). She also provided step by step instructions for how to apply for the different types of leave on the EDD website and how to answer the Qs so as not to get my claim flagged. So, she is quite the expert in CA parental leave and I would strongly suggest reaching out!

Having just come off my PDL & PFL, I can testify that the EDD is an absolute chaotic mess even under "normal" circumstances. I 100% agree with the folks who say to contact your state rep. It might sound random, but I basically got a case worker who helped move my claim through. The EDD will not answer your calls. Your state rep will respond to your email within 48 hours. Good luck!

I think contacting your state rep is a great idea. Another thing I would try is calling Legal Aid at Work's Work and Family hotline: https://legalaidatwork.org/our-programs/work-and-family-program/ 

EDD is so frustrating. I'm an attorney but not in this area of law and I had a lot of issues getting the correct payment amount. Good luck!