State Disability Insurance for Pregnancy Leave

Parent Q&A

  • I am looking for updated information. All the posts I have found are really old.

    If you're self-employed, you are hopefully paying into the CA Voluntary Plan Disability Insurance Program through the EDD, which covers disability and paid family leave for those who are self-employed. Benefits are based on your highest paid quarter in the past year. If you haven't opted into this program yet and are newly self-employed, you may still be able to begin paying in now and a quarter of your wages under your former employer can also be counted. If you have been self-employed for over a year but haven't paid into the program, you unfortunately don't have a lot of options, although it's still worth opting in now if you will be working for at least another few months, because you can use the paid family leave any time in the baby's first year. (Disability coverage is only for 6-8 weeks after your child's birth.) The EDD website has instructions on how to set up your account and on how to begin paying in if you aren't already doing so. Congratulations!

    I agree with what the previous poster said, and would add two things. #1) You have to start paying into the program two quarters (they measure everything in quarters starting Jan, April, July, Oct) before you use the benefits. So if you sign up and start paying right when you know you're pregnant, you should be able to get in two quarters before you have a baby and need to take the benefits. And #2) They require you to pay in for two whole years. So if you just start paying in right when you find out you're pregnant, you have to keep paying for a year a half after you're done collecting benefits. I did the math and it was worth it for me, but it's a pretty important part to know. Also my payments changed over the course of the two years because they constantly adjust it based on your income. Also, I did make the program work for me and I'm glad I did it, but they have the worst website I've ever encountered, anywhere. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Can I get disability if I don't plan to return to work?

April 2002

I have a more specific question that isn't answered on the State's website about maternity leave. I know that California offers up to 4 weeks pre-delivery and 6 weeks post-delivery of partially paid disability/maternity leave for working eligible mothers-to-be. My question is: Do you have to return to your job after the 6 weeks in order to qualify? Or, can you be paid up to 6 weeks, and not return to work? In other words, if I tell my employer ahead of time that I do NOT intend to return, can I still qualify for the money? If not, I suppose the unethical way to qualify would be to take leave under the pretense of returning after 6 or 12 weeks, but not really return... I'm avoiding questions about my future with my employer until I know more about this California maternity leave law. I do not plan to return to work after delivery, but I would love to get a bit of money that I've ''earned'' from deductions from my paychecks all these years! By the way, I'm not referring to FMLA rules, but the specific State law that offers paid disability leave for maternity. Thanks for any information you can provide! mom-to-be

The forms that you'll get from Disability with every check ask you if you're well enough to work and if you've gone back to work, yet. The state is mainly interested in whether you're still disabled. I think you'll find that the fact that you're not intending to return to work is not an issue. Gwynne
YES! You can collect disability! I had no intention of going back to work and my employer knew that. You are still entitled to received the disability payments for the full 6 weeks after birth! Don't feel guilty - you earned it. Jaime
I don't know the answer to your question, but I would recommend calling 1-800-480-3287. I called this number and asked a million complicated questions about California maternity disability coverage, and the woman answered them all pretty easily. It made me wish I hadn't spent so much time wandering aimlessly around the web site. sonya
It's my understanding the you have to be _disabled_ as a result of your preganancy in order to collect this payment - i.e., baby-bonding time does not count as disabled time. Only if you are ordered bed rest or have complications would you be able to collect anywhere close to the full time period. Your employer may sponsor an additional SDI (short term disability) privately that is more flexible than the state. good luck. Cynthia
I remember doing this research and asking the same questions, I also remember getting a different answer from every person I talked to when I called the Disability Department. I was told that yes, you must plan to return to work after your disability ends, and if you were to give notice now you wouldn't qualify. Jill
I received state disability payments until 6 wks postpartum without returning to work. All the paperwork was between me and the state; my employer was not involved at all. When I filled out the initial paperwork, my care provider indicated that I should receive payments until 6 wks after my due date because I told her that I would be out of work at least that long. Also, FYI, during my pre-delivery leave, in which I also received disability payments, I worked some scant part time hrs, and reported those to the state, but it didn't affect my disability check amounts. Also FYI, our accountant just told us that it wasn't necessary to report this as additional income on our income taxes. Halle
I took pregnancy disability and did not return to work for an additional 4 months afterwards. If you have paid into SDI, and you are medically qualified for it, you should get your post birth six weeks disability money regardless of how long you stay off work. It is between you and the state, not you and your employer. I completed the application myself, had my doctor approve it, and sent it directly to the state. My only advice is to make sure you send back the ''you are still disabled'' part of your disability paystubs, or else the next check won't come. Sherri

Maternity disability for self-employed mom?

March 2002

My first baby is due in one month. I have heard that it is possible to claim diability insurance from the State of California during this time. Yet, I do own my own business and am not sure quite how to claim it. Does anyone have experience with this? Thank you. Shira

As a self-employed individual, you are eligible for State Disability Insurance (SDI) if you've elected to pay for the coverage and have done so for some period of time (I forget how long you would have needed to pay in before you can collect). You can address questions as to whether you are covered to EDD (the State Employment Development Department which administers SDI).
Yes, you can file for disability. You should check with your doctor; very often the doctor's office will have the appropriate forms. If not, try the Web. The page for disability insurance is here:

(My employer was so new, they didn't have any forms, and I had to go through the state to get all my forms.)

The state pays only for the time you are disabled, that is, unable to work. In my case, I sent away to the state for the form. I filled out most of it and left the form with my doctor's office. The day my baby was born, the doctor's office filled in the begin date on the form and filed the claim for me. Gwynne

I just looked into this. I own my own business, as well. From what I understand (and I don't understand it all that well), you need to pay the state for a certain period before you are eligible to receive the benefits. It seems that self-employed people can start paying into the program a few months before delivery (I'm not sure how long). I, however, was employed full-time last year, which means I am still eligible for the benefits I paid for through my old job. Basically, you should call Dave Shellhouse, in charge of elective coverage, at 916-464-2500. There is also some basic information on the State of California web site. Good luck! sonya
Response to question re disability insurance: As a self-employed individual, you are eligible for State Disability Insurance (SDI) if you've elected to pay for the insurance and have done so for some period of time (I forget how long you would have needed to pay in before you can collect). You can address questions as to whether you are covered to EDD (the State Employment Development Department which administers SDI). Amy