What is state disability and how do I apply?

Most California employees are eligible for State Disability Insurance (SDI) for maternity leave.   It will pay you no more than 4 weeks prior to your due date for a NORMAL pregnancy and 6 weeks after date of delivery. However, if you deliver your baby by Cesarean Section, you are eligible to take 8 weeks post delivery. You may find the SDI forms online, form # DE-2501, or you may pick up a copy from our office. You will need to fill out your portion of the forms.

After you have finished filling out the forms, complete with signatures and dates, please leave the forms with us. SDI wants the original signatures. Once we have completed the Doctor’s Certificate, we will mail the entire form to the state for you no sooner than 9 days after the first day of disability. Please note that the first seven days of a disability claim are not paid. It is a “waiting period” assessed by the state. SDI disburses checks twice a month so you should receive 2 checks monthly.

If you are eligible for SDI, you are automatically eligible for Paid Family Leave (PFL). PFL is also known as Baby Bonding. This is also paid by SDI but for the purpose of bonding with either a newborn child, foster child, or adopted child. By filling out these forms you are eligible to receive an additional 6 weeks paid leave. You may take the 6 weeks any time in the first year of the baby’s birth or adoption as long as you complete the 6 weeks by his or her first birthday or by the first anniversary date of adoption.

Spouses, domestic partners, and fathers are also eligible for PFL, as long as they contribute to SDI. For father’s and domestic partners to obtain these forms, please request a form on the SDI website. A form will be mailed to you by the State within 2 weeks. When filling out forms to bond with a baby, you do NOT need a doctor’s signature. You will need one of the following to accompany your form to show proof that you are eligible to receive Baby Bonding privileges: baby’s social security number or copy of baby’s birth certificate. Since these two items will not be available to you for approximately six weeks after delivery, fathers or domestic partners may submit a letter from the hospital confirming the birth of a child or you may also submit a hospital discharge summary instead. You may request a hospital discharge summary from our office one week after your wife or partner has left the hospital.

If you are a new mother and would like to fill out PFL forms to receive an additional 6 weeks of paid leave, you need not to worry. After your disability has ended SDI will send you PFL forms automatically. Because SDI knows when the last day of disability was, they will put the first day of your PFL as the following day to avoid a gap.

When filling the forms:

  • Use BLACK ink only.
  • Make sure you state the last day you worked and the first day of disability.
  • Do NOT check the sick option in box #18. You are disabled and NOT sick. If you take sick pay while disabled SDI will NOT pay a cent. You may call it vacation, just do NOT call it sick pay.


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