What are Common Benefits in California?
If you live and work in California, you may be eligible for certain benefits if you become injured and can no longer work in the same capacity, or at all. The type of benefits you may qualify for will depend on whether you suffered an illness or injury, and whether either occurred at the workplace or outside. The best way to determine the type of benefits that you qualify for is to contact an attorney to discuss your situation. Common Benefits in California
Depending on the facts of your situation, you may qualify for one of these common types of disability benefits:
- Workers' Compensation: If you have been injured or become ill while on-the-job, you may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Workers' compensation helps cover expenses like lost wages, medical bills, or retraining benefits. Depending on your injury or illness, you may be able to pursue workers' compensation and other benefits.
- Temporary Disability Benefits: Temporary disability benefits compensate employees for lost wages during an illness, or while recovering from an injury or illness. As of 2004, the maximum duration for temporary disability benefits was limited to 104 weeks. In order to qualify for the maximum, your doctor must agree to the duration.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits: If you are injured or ill, but are able to do some level of work while recovering, you may qualify for temporary partial disability benefits, which provides payments while you are recovering and making less than you were before the injury or illness.
- Permanent Disability Benefits: If your injury or illness has resulted in your doctor classifying you as "permanent and stationary", then you may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. The amount you may qualify for is calculated based on the degree to which you are injured, which ranges from 1-100 percent disabled.
What is Temporary Disability?
A temporary disability is an injury or illness that is expected to improve or resolve. If your doctor has determined that you cannot do your job, or are experiencing a temporary inability to do as much work as before, you may be considered disabled and qualify for temporary disability benefits.
At The Law Offices of George Henderson, we routinely help clients who are temporarily disabled due to:
- Pregnancy or Childbirth
- Fractured or Broken Bones
- Head or Brain Injury
- Elective Surgery
- Illness, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, infection, etc.
There are many injuries and illnesses that may have a disabling impact on your health, and your life. The type of injury, diagnosis, and level of disability all factor into what benefits you may qualify for.
Temporary Disability Benefits in California
California has a program for employees called short-term disability insurance (SDI). These benefits are also known as temporary disability insurance (TDI). Under California law, employees may qualify for temporary disability benefits if:
- They are temporarily unable to work
- Are a new mother on maternity leave
- Have a family member who is seriously ill who requires care
In order to qualify for SDI, employees must have made at least $300 in wages, where SDI taxes were withheld during the base period - or generally one year. Employees also must file an accurate claim, including a certificate of disability signed by a healthcare provider. The amount of benefits awarded under SDI will depend on the amount of wages earned. SDI generally pays 55 percent of the wages earned, and is not taxed.
Get Help Filing a Temporary Disability Claim
The process of filing a temporary disability claim may seem simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, not all employers cooperate with disability and leave laws, or are willing to accommodate your needs. Before filing a temporary disability claim, contact The Law Offices of George Henderson to learn more about your legal rights.
California has many laws related to disability, workers' compensation, and leave. It is important to know your legal rights, and what options are best to ensure you get the compensation and benefits you deserve.
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What is Permanent Disability?
A permanent disability is an injury or illness that impacts your ability to continue working. Your healthcare provider will make the decision as to whether your injury or illness is considered a permanent disability. In most cases, this occurs when a doctor determines that your injury or illness has stabilized to a point where no change is likely to occur. Your doctor may use the term "permanent and stationary" or "maximal medical improvement" to indicate that your condition is not expected to change.
Some injuries and illnesses that result in permanent disability include:
- Head and Brain Injuries
- Neck and Spine Injuries
- Orthopedic Injuries
- Toxic Chemical Exposure
- Lung Disease
Even if you are able to return to work, you may still be classified as disabled if you have been diagnosed with any permanent injury or illness that cannot be improved upon over time. In such cases, you may be able to continue receiving disability benefits, even if you are able to earn wages.
Permanent Disability Benefits in California
In order to determine the benefits you qualify for, a specialist with the Disability Evaluation Unit will review your information and perform a calculation. This calculation determines your level of impairment or disability, and how it affects your ability to perform daily activities. Factors included in the calculation may include:
- Your age and occupation at the time of the injury
- Average wages earned at the time of the injury
- Whether any portion of the injury or illness was caused by factors outside the workplace
- Diminished future earning capacity
Once these factors have been calculated, you will receive a rating, which can then be equated to a dollar amount. This amount may change if you resume work, depending on how much your wages are at that time.
Getting Help with Permanent Disability Claims
The process of qualifying for permanent disability benefits can be stressful. There are multiple steps, and you may find yourself disagreeing with your doctor or the overall rating. Eliminate that stress by working with The Law Offices of George Henderson during the claims process.
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What is the Claims Process?
If you have been injured while on-the-job, your first priority is getting adequate medical care. You second priority is most likely filing a claim to ensure financial stability as you recover. At The Law Offices of George Henderson, one of the most common questions we are asked is "what is the claims process?" Let's take a look at the basic steps for filing a claim.
Disability Claims Process
- Applying for Benefits: The first step in the claims process is completing applications.
- If applicable, complete a DWC 1 form through your employer. This form is the beginning of the workers' compensation process and will serve as the foundation to determining what sort of benefits you may qualify for.
- If you do not have a DWC 1 form, you can start the claims process by completing an application through the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program.
- Medical Certification: The next step in the claims process is obtaining a completed medical certification. Your healthcare provider must certify that you are disabled by completing the medical certification portion of the claim application (DE 2501 Part B, or SDI Online form).
- Review Process: Next, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) will review your claim. You will receive a notice of "approval" or "denial". If approved, you will receive information about the potential benefit amount.
- Appeals Process: If you are denied, you will be able to file an appeal (form DE 1000A). You must complete and return the appeal within 30 days.
If all of the application and certification materials are completed, your claim may be completed in as little as 30-49 days. However, every claim is different, and there may be obstacles to obtaining the benefits that you are entitled to or deserve.
Legal Guidance for a Smooth Claims Process
Filing a disability claim may be fairly simple, but moving through the claims process can be frustrating, especially if you are denied, or your benefit amount is less than what you need to recover from your injury or illness. To get the legal guidance you need for a smooth claims or appeals process, contact The Law Offices of George Henderson to set up a free consultation.
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Can I Change my Attorney?
The attorney-client relationship is incredibly important for smooth maneuvering through the legal process. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or unsatisfied with your relationship, or your attorneys performance, you can change your attorney. Some of the most common reasons why clients decide to change their attorney include:
- Lack of specialization in workers' compensation, disability, or employment law
- Lack of attentiveness and responsiveness to client needs, calls, or emails
- Client feels the case is taking too long
- Client feels that the attorney is not working hard enough on the case
Any of these factors are legitimate concerns that should be addressed by your attorney. Remember that every legal case is different, and most legal cases take time. Some elements of the legal process can take weeks or months on their own.
Downfalls of Changing your Attorney
There are several things you should consider before changing your attorney, especially if you are in the middle of a legal process. Consider these potential downfalls:
- You may find it difficult to find another attorney who is willing to take on your case after firing a previous attorney. Some attorneys view a change as a "red flag".
- Think carefully about why you want to change attorneys. If he or she is being rude to you, not communicating, is unprofessional, or demonstrates a lack of knowledge in the particular area of law, your reasoning may be justified. If, however, you are simply frustrated with the time the case is taking, delays, or other obstacles outside the attorney's control, then you will likely find that changing attorneys does not resolve these issues.
- Changing attorneys may require you to pay attorney and legal fees to more than one attorney. If you obtain an award in your case, both attorneys may be eligible to receive compensation from your case.
If you are concerned about how your case is progressing, talk to your attorney honestly about your concerns. If he or she does not adequately address them and show you where progress is being made, it may be time to consider talking to a new attorney.
Get Help with Workers' Compensation Case
If you have suffered an injury while at work, you may be entitled to compensation via workers' compensation or a personal injury claim. To explore your legal rights and options that may be available to you, contact The Law Offices of George Henderson for a no-obligation consultation.