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Unemployment vs. State Disability: 5 Things You Must Know Now

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Despite the increased awareness of EDD (Employment Development Department) benefits, many people are confused about which types of benefits are available and when they can apply for them. If you are out of work due to an accident or have been laid off, you may be able to get benefits from the government.

There are two types of benefits that we see a lot in Workers’ Comp cases: Unemployment and State Disability Insurance. You can apply to them if you have been fired from your job or if you've been in an accident and became unable to work.

With these benefits, you can focus on regaining your financial footing without worrying about how to pay the bills. So keep reading to find out more about them and see if they are a fit for you.


1. Unemployment Eligibility

2. Benefits of Unemployment

3. State Disability Insurance Eligibility

4. State Disability Insurance Benefits

5. SDI vs Workers’ Comp

1. Unemployment Eligibility

If you've just lost your job, you would be facing a very frightening time. You may have to worry about paying the bills, passing money to your parents upstate, and many other money issues we all have to deal with. Don't get in a flat. The EDD (Employment Development Department) can help you apply for unemployment benefits.

Unemployment is a benefit you receive when you get fired for reasons other than injury or illness. If you have been laid off, maybe lost your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or got “downsized” for economic reasons, you are a good candidate for unemployment benefits.

2. Benefits of Unemployment

Unemployment benefits are intended to partially replace lost wages, but the precise amount you receive will depend on your income prior to unemployment. Some states consider the employee's prior annual earnings; others look at the employee's earnings during the highest paid quarter or two-quarters of the base period.

To determine your weekly benefit amount, the EDD will calculate the wages you earned during your base period. This is only valid for the state of California. California's weekly benefit amount is arrived at by dividing those total wages by 26—up to a maximum of $450 per week.

3. State Disability Insurance Eligibility

The second type of benefit is State Disability Insurance, which is typically a paid benefit if you are off of work for non-industrial reasons. For example, if you were to develop cancer or were in a car accident outside work, it had nothing to do with your job. However, you won't be able to perform your working tasks. So, in this case, you may be eligible for State Disability Insurance.

If you didn't have a private long-term or short-term disability policy, you could actually apply for State Disability insurance.

The California State Disability Insurance (SDI) is a short-term public insurance program run by California's Employment Development Department (EDD). SDI pays you about 55% of what you used to make at work if you:

  • Have a non-work-related illness or injury. These SDI payments may continue for up to a year.
  • Need to take Paid Family Leave (PFL) to care for a sick relative or to bond with a new child.
  • Are pregnant.

But be careful, as this differs from Worker's Compensation. Worker's Comp pays for medical expenses and lost wages resulting from a work-related injury. But does not pay monthly benefits when a worker is unable to work.

4. Benefits of State Disability Insurance:

SDI generally pays 55% of your average wages for up to 52 weeks of disability. Nevertheless, your income may shift from month to month and year to year, making it hard to determine your exact average weekly income.

When SDI looks at your earnings to figure out how much you should get in benefits, they look at how much you earned in the 12 months between 17 and 5 months before your disability started.

Now there's a question that often comes. Why would I want to apply for state disability when I should be getting Worker's Comp?

The reason for this is that insurance carriers often deny liability for Workers' Comp claims, leaving injured workers without a source of income. State disability will pay benefits to those who cannot work.

5. SDI vs Workers’ Comp

Workers' Compensation is different from other types of insurance coverage. Although workplaces are becoming safer, accidents still occur. If you suffer an injury on the job, filing a Workers Comp claim is your best option.

It is important for injured workers to pursue benefits that help them move forward with their lives. Creating a sense of peace of mind during the recovery process will allow you to focus on getting better. In Workers’ Compensation claims, it’s important to seek benefits that help you cope with the losses you may be experiencing.


If you're confused about the difference between State Disability and Unemployment insurance, you should know that these two programs have different eligibility requirements. To apply for Unemployment insurance,you need to be able to work, but to be approved for State Disability payments, your physician must sign off on your disability status.

Benefits like these are essential for thousands of people across the United States who lose their jobs or cannot work due to illnesses unrelated to their job. That way, you canfocus on getting well or finding another job without worrying about how you will pay your bills.

If you have a question about Workers’ Comp or need a lawyer, give us a call at 800-606-6999 or set an appointment here.

Pacific Workers', The Lawyers for Injured Workers in Northern California's Premier Workers' Compensation Law Firm. Representing First Responders, Health Care Workers, Construction Workers, Delivery Workers, Warehouse Workers, and all the hard-working people that keep our community moving in their Fight for Justice against the Insurance Companies.

With over 250+ Five Star Reviews; an incredible staff of caring, well-trained, advanced technology for superior client communication: a track record of an over 98%-win rate, and giving back to our community through the Pacific Workers' Foundation, it is easy to see why Pacific Workers' is the go-to law firm for all injured workers in Northern California. Offices in Oakland, Concord, Stockton, Tracy, San Jose, and Sacramento.

If you or a loved one need help or just have a question, give us a call at 800-606-6999 or email us at

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