Every workers’ compensation claims examiner has likely been told that an injured worker may not collect temporary disability and state disability insurance (SDI) benefits at the same time. We can confidently state that every examiner who received such training was given inaccurate information, as it is perfectly legal under certain circumstances for an injured worker to collect both benefits simultaneously. In our blog today we will explain how this is done.
The rules of entitlement to SDI and workers’ compensation disability benefits are truly not that difficult to understand. An injured worker may supplement TD benefits if their SDI rate is greater than work comp. If so, SDI is liable for the difference between the two rates. For example, if Jane Doe’s SDI rate is $1,000 per week while her TD rate is $800 per week, then she may receive $800 from workers’ compensation plus the difference of $200 from SDI. Both benefits may be paid at the same time.
Allow us to demonstrate how collecting the difference from SDI may result in a significant outcome to both the injured worker and the employer. Back in March of 2020, a computer programmer for a large Silicon Valley company was drawing a salary more than $200,000 per year when COVID struck. As like many high-tech workers, our programmer was laid off. He eventually found an interim job in 2021 earning only $840 per week but was soon injured while working at that position. He was placed on work comp disability with a TD compensation rate of only $560 per week. When interviewed immediately following the injury, the claims adjuster learned of the worker’s past employment in Silicon Valley. The adjuster graciously advised the claimant to file for SDI benefits and to inform SDI of the $560 per week he would receive from workers’ compensation, information that would entitle the worker to a rate differential of $797 per week from SDI. Thanks to the kindness of the adjuster, the claimant legally received work comp and SDI benefits simultaneously for a combined total of $1,357 per week, instead of just $560 from work comp alone. Although the claims adjuster had no legal obligation to provide SDI guidance to the injured worker, the adjuster demonstrated good will by assisting someone who was in dire need of financial assistance. The injured worker in this case was grateful beyond words which contributed to an easy and trouble-free settlement of the comp claim. Incidentally, since the injured worker’s weekly SDI payment was offset by $560 per week from workers’ compensation, he was able to remain on SDI beyond the normal one-year limit. In this situation the employee collected SDI benefits for 20 months before his SDI account was exhausted.