What is the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and State Disability Insurance (SDI)

When you are off work, you may need to recover your lost wages. You might pursue State Disability Insurance or Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability Benefits.  Disability Insurance is a component of the SDI program through EDD. EDD will  pay a weekly benefit when an injury or illness is not caused by or related to work. The benefits are paid for a temporary period of time only, at most one year. Workers’ compensation provides benefits called temporary disability indemnity for workers when their injury or illness is caused by their work. Workers’ compensation may also pay medical bills and benefits for permanent disabilities.

If an employee is hurt at work, has an cumulative trauma or medical condition due to occupation, or an existing work related medical condition that has become aggravated the worker can file a claim with both services, but usually cannot receive both workers’ compensation and SDI benefits for the same period of time. For example, SDI benefits may be paid if the employer or employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier denies or delays workers’ compensation benefits. If the workers’ compensation weekly benefit amount is less than the worker’s SDI weekly benefit amount, the worker may be eligible to receive the difference. If SDI does issue benefits while a workers’ compensation case is pending, a lien will be filed to recover those benefits when the workers’ compensation case is settled.

If it is unknown that an injury or illness is work-related, a physician/practitioner may be able to help determine the cause of the disabling condition. If a worker believes that a work-related disability occurred it must be reported to the employer and a physician/practitioner’s medical report must be submitted to the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.

If an employee, employer, and/or employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier disagree over issues regarding a workers’ compensation claim contact the Department of Industrial Relation, Division of Workers’ Compensation for information about the workers’ compensation appeal process and your right to file an appeal.

Find out more and learn how to apply by visiting EDD’s website https://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/SDI_Self_Service_Options.htm.

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