Ralph M. Tsong
How to apply for California disability insurance as a surrogate
Pregnancy and childbirth can require a surrogate to take time off work, and that is why gestational surrogacy contracts provide for lost wages for the gestational carrier, so that she doesn’t suffer personal losses for undergoing the journey. Typically, lost wages under a surrogacy contract will up to extend 4-8 weeks beyond a birth. This can be very expensive for the intended parents, but fortunately in California (among a few other states) provides state disability insurance (SDI) for qualified employees.
The SDI program provides partial wage replacement benefits to eligible California workers who are unable to work due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. SDI contributions are paid by California workers through employee payroll deductions.
If you are planning to be a surrogate and are employed in California, you should learn about SDI benefits. SDI will pay about 60 to 70 percent (depending on income) of your average daily wage in the highest quarter 5 to 18 months before the claim start date. Further, surrogates can receive SDI for four weeks before delivery without any complications, or earlier if there are complications, and up to six weeks after delivery or 8 weeks after a delivery with complications or a c-section. To qualify, a surrogate must have earned at least $300 in wages that are subject to SDI deductions (“CASDI” on your paystubs) during the 12-month period prior to their claim.
You can apply for benefits online at the website www.edd.ca.gov. The first step is to gather the required information. You must provide: a Valid California Driver License (CDL) or identification card number; your full legal name, date of birth and social security number; your current employer’s business name, phone number, and mailing address (as stated on your W-2 or paystub); the last date you worked your normal or usual duties (or the date you began working less than full or modified duty).
The second step is register and create an account. To register for SDI Online, you must create a Benefit Programs Online (BPO) Account through this link: https://portal.edd.ca.gov/WebApp/Registration. When you log in to BPO, select SDI Online. Then, you will be directed to your SDI Online Registration Options.
The third step is to file your claim online. To do this, you must log in to your BPO account, select SDI Online, select New Claim, select Disability Insurance and follow the steps in each section, submit the completed Part A – Claimant’s Statement, and copy and save your receipt number. You must provide this number to your licensed health professional.
The last step is to get your treating health professional to complete the Medical Certification. After your claim has been received, your licensed health professional can find your claim in SDI Online using your form receipt number. They must submit the certification no later than 30 days after your disability begins or you may lose your benefits.
It is recommended that you talk to your health professional about their process for submitting a DI claim. Your claim will not be processed until the state receives both your part and the medical certification. Do not submit the same claim more than once as this will delay your claim.
Once your licensed health professional submits your medical certification to the government, you have successfully filed your DI claim. The California Employment Development Department (EDD) will contact you with the status of your claim, usually within 14 days. Your employer will be notified that you have submitted a DI claim. However, medical information is confidential and will not be shared with your employer.
EDD will issue payments in one of two ways. Either electronic payment via a debit card; or an EDD check 7 to 10 days for delivery by mail. Payments will be retroactive to the eligibility date.
A properly drafted surrogacy agreement will require a surrogate to apply for disability payments once they are eligible, and not doing so will be a breach of the agreement. Intended Parents will pay the difference in lost wages that are not covered by the Disability Insurance, so there is no loss to the surrogate for applying for disability benefits. Any payments already made by Intended Parents that end up covered by SDI will be credited to the Intended Parents.
Note that SDI does not provide any job protection, only monetary benefits; however, a surrogate’s leave during pregnancy may be protected through other federal or state laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Pregnancy Discrimination Act or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Note that you may collect SDI if you are using your paid vacation time, but not if you have fully paid sick leave.
SDI is a benefit to surrogates that helps with the financial burdens of losing work due to work restrictions during pregnancy or after child birth. It is a huge benefit to intended parents by reducing their surrogate’s lost wages by up to 70% what they otherwise would have had to pay out. Working surrogates who live in states like California which pay disability benefits during pregnancy and child birth are attractive candidates to intended parents because state disability insurance reduces the cost of their journey, and being eligible for SDI might allow for a higher base compensation. California surrogates are eligible for benefits when they receive a doctor’s order and have been off work for at least seven days.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon without additional research or consulting an attorney. This article is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with the reader.