While the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus worldwide has created financial upheaval for countless individuals and families, many may wonder how to provide for themselves and their families during this period where they are laid off or social distancing. In California, the Employment Development Department (EDD) is one’s best bet for securing supplemental income during this trying time. A California resident may file a claim with the EDD for either Disability Insurance, Paid Medical Leave, or Unemployment Insurance.

First, those who are sick and cannot work may file Disability Insurance (DI) claim, providing short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Individuals who have been quarantined due to illness may also qualify for DI. Governor Newsom has issued an Executive Order waiving the standard one-week unpaid waiting period to collect DI benefits for the first week out of work. To apply for DI, the requirement can be met by providing a medical certification signed by a treating physician or a practitioner that includes a diagnosis and ICD-10 code, or a statement of symptoms coupled with a start date of the condition and the probable duration. The treating physician or practitioner must also provide his or her license number and facility information. This requirement may also be satisfied through a written order from a state or local health officer.

By filing a DI claim, employees can earn benefits corresponding with approximately 60-70% of their wages depending on income, ranging from $50 to $1,300 a week. Payments are paid through the date of a doctor’s certification or when available benefits are exhausted, whichever comes first within a 52-week period. The easiest way to file a DI claim is online. Employees will be asked to submit supporting medical documentation after they apply.

Self-employed individuals, such as independent contractors, or those otherwise not covered by State Disability Insurance Program may still be eligible for benefits if they pay into Disability Insurance Elective Coverage (DIEC).

Individuals may file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim if they miss work due to caring for an ill or quarantined family member. PFL provides up to six weeks of benefits to eligible workers with full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member. Similar to DI, individuals may receive approximately 60-70% of wages, ranging from $50 to $1,300 a week. To obtain PFL benefits, an individual must provide medical documentation for the family member in care who is either ill or quarantined due to COVID-19. This requirement may be satisfied with a medical certification for that person from a treating physician or a practitioner that includes a diagnosis and ICD-10 code, or a statement of symptoms, the start date of the condition, its probable duration, and the treating physician’s license number or facility information. This requirement can also be met through a written order from a state or local health officer.

Absent these documents, individuals may still be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits instead. Individuals are encouraged to apply for UI if unemployed because their hours were reduced due to quarantine, they were separated from their employer during quarantine, or they have been subject to a quarantine required by a medical professional or state local health officer. Additionally, an employee may be entitled to UI benefits if their child’s school is closed and the employee has no other care options and is unable to continue working normal hours remotely. Typically, individuals can receive benefits ranging from $40-450 a week, from 13 to 26 weeks. However, the $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law on March 27, 2020 extends laid-off and furloughed works an extra $600 a week for up to four months and extends existing state benefits by 13 weeks. While individuals can apply and file a claim for UI and DI benefits at the same time, they can only collect payments under one program at a time. Nonetheless, an individual receiving UI may switch to DI or PFL should they become sick or have to take care of a sick family member.

To file a claim for UI, click here: https://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/UI_Online.htm