One of the million concerns for the soon-to-be-retirees and the pandemic-unemployed-citizens have on their mind is whether and how long their saved money last to get through the pandemic.
Almost 63 million people rely on Social Security benefits to make ends meet. Whereas, most of the American citizens rely on Social Security as a major chunk of their monthly income. Unfortunately, this valuable income stream is under possible jeopardy under the Coronavirus pandemic pressure.
For those who have other family members 'gifting' them a monthly amount or taking care of some parts of their livelihoods through financial help, this pressure may not be a problem. Yet, for those who rely almost only on Social Security benefits, this is a serious concern. The Social Security Administration is expected to pay around $1 trillion in income benefits in 2020, with the average benefit being around $1260 and the highest amounting to $1503 each month. At the same time, the maximum Social Security benefit at full retirement age is around $3011 each month, and that is kept the same for this year too.
The pandemic and its effect on the Social Security has impacted not only the procedures and systems of Social Security but could also hasten the insolvency of the Social Security trust fund.
Fortunately, California has announced several changes to its short-term disability insurance rules (SDI) in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. These changes have taken effect almost immediately. The SDI program already provides short-term benefit payments to workers who are off work due to a non-work related injury or illness. The Coronavirus is also being included in the SDI illnesses this year. Let us discuss how the SSA will incorporate SDI payments for the Covid-19.
The New SDI Rules for Coronavirus
If you or a loved one has been unable to work due to having Coronavirus or the risk of being exposed to the Coronavirus then you are eligible for the SDI payments for Coronavirus. However, in order to qualify for the SDI payments, you must be able to provide sufficient medical evidence to prove that the Covid-19 hindered your ability to perform substantial gainful activity, SGA in the short-term.
If you get infected with the Covid-19 yourself, then you must provide a medical certification, or a written statement/testimony by your physician/doctor/public health officer mentioning the diagnosis, the onset date, the list of symptoms, and its probable duration for you.
If you are quarantined due to the Covid-19 due as prescribed by a doctor or a public health practitioner, you should be able to qualify for SDI benefits provided that the quarantine is certified by that doctor or the medical health professional and you must show a written statement/evidence showing it.
Also, there is an SDI rule of the one-week waiting period that has been waived for the Covid-19. You can start collecting benefits as soon as the first day of your first week out of work.
How to Open a Claim for Unemployment SDI Benefits?
You can open an unemployment claim online, by phone, or by mail. The best way to reopen a claim is by logging in to your SSA's account and using the online application form. Before you apply, take time to review the basics, understand the process, and gather the information and documents you'll need to complete an application.
Note that opening a claim online is shorter and easier than doing it by phone, mail or walk-in. In most cases, you will get an SSA officer's call directly to your mobile phone to discuss the application or to approve the benefits.
You must be able to and available for work to collect the SDI benefits within one week if you qualify. If you don't meet this requirement, the SSA will require you to file an application again or appeal the SDI application if your symptoms have worsened. Once you have opened a claim, you must be able to certify with documents or a health care professional's testimony to win the SDI benefits.
When to File for Unemployment (The Right Time to Apply)
If you are working from home and your work hours have been reduced due to the Coronavirus, it may have an impact on your earnings, especially if you have an hourly paid job. In this case, you can file for unemployment benefits if your monthly income is sufficiently below the norms.
If you have been denied SDI due to being quarantined or due to caring for a quarantined person/family member at home, and are being unable to perform substantial gainful activity or work sufficient hours to make ends meet, you can also qualify for unemployment benefits.
*Note that you cannot collect SDI and unemployment benefits at the same time.
Filing for a Paid Family Leave Instead
If you are caring for a loved one who is quarantined due to Covid-19, you should file a paid family leave instead of an SDI benefits. This is because a person with Covid-19 himself is more likely to win SDI benefits than a person caring for one. This program provides up to six weeks of benefits that would be sufficient to cover for the quarantined time.
Need Help in Submitting Claims?
You can submit your SDI claim or the Paid Family Leave Program at the EDD's website online. If you need help for unemployment claims or disability claims or SDI claims, you can seek our counsel of disability attorneys for more details.