EDD, Disability, and Me
I’ve been meaning to share this information for a while and finally remembered to do it! As my pregnancy progressed, naturally, planning for maternity leave became a pretty big endeavor for me. I kept thinking to myself: how is this all supposed to work, anyway? I didn’t know very many people that had actually taken maternity leave, and there was only one other person at my job that had done it recently…so the questions soon began to pile up in my head.
What’s the minimum or maximum amount of time I can take off?
Will I get paid for my time off?
When do I use my vacation and sick time?
What forms do I fill out?
How does this disability thing work?
I had trouble actually getting all of the information I needed right away, because as I mentioned, only one other woman at my job had been on leave recently, and when I spoke to her – it kind of made me more confused because I had NO idea what she was talking about. I just shook my head, nodded, and wrote down some quick notes!
After doing some more asking around and trying to do some research online, this is what I found out. It’s a little lengthy, but it will be better than trying to sift and sort through the EDD (Employment Development Department) website all willy-nilly. That was a task all by itself.
In a nutshell, you can apply for and claim pregnancy as a disability (**please note: I can only speak for the state of California, for any of my readers that may be out of state!). Here’s how it goes – or at least how it went for me:
1) First and foremost, I discussed with my boss when I thought I’d like to start my leave. It’s important to do that before you do anything else, so that your employer can anticipate when you’d be out and begin to make plans accordingly.
2) Once I had a rough idea of when I wanted to start the leave, I created a project list of things I knew I wanted to get done before I left and got started on it right away. Now this was a personal choice, but it worked for me because in my mind, I didn’t want them to have ANY reason to call me while I was out! So that meant I had to be on top of my game and get lots of stuff done long before my leave started.
3) Next I had to consider how long I was going to be out. This is all based on your financial situation and what you can afford. Some people take the minimum amount of time while others take up to 6 months – it all just depends. To find out what the time frames were for disability, I asked the nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office.
4) The state of California offers a total of 10 weeks for pregnancy disability. You get four (4) weeks before you give birth and six (6) weeks after. That’s it. No more, no less. You cannot merge the weeks, either. That is, you can’t take one week before and add try to add three weeks to the back end. The time is use it or loose it. Some women may prefer to work all the way up until they deliver and opt out of taking the four weeks up front. Again, it’s up to you and your situation. After much debate, I chose to take all four because I have a long drive to work that was starting to take a toll on me physically and I felt like I needed the extra rest (which proved to be the right move for me).
5) I obtained the disability form from my doctor’s office. You don’t fill it out until you get ready to start your leave. You also have to be off work for eight (8) consecutive days before you can submit the form. You will not be paid for those days. Those days do include weekends, however. So for example, my last day was on a Friday. I filled the form out that day and wrote that next day (Saturday) as the first day of my disability.
6) At my following doctor’s appointment (the next Wednesday), I turned the form into them. There’s a page that has to be filled out by your doctor’s office certifying that you are under his or her care for pregnancy. It took about 3 business days to get the form back, which was perfect because when I received it, it was right near the end of the eight day waiting period.
7) I made a photocopy of everything (ALWAYS, ALWAYS make copies!) and mailed it off to EDD.
8) My first check came about a week and a half later. Hooray! I thought it would have taken longer, considering how backed up the unemployment office is with so many claims (stupid recession!). Now here’s the juicy part: how they calculate your benefit payment. They tabulate your income for the four quarters before the start of your disability. You’ll get half of whatever your highest grossing quarter was. So if you get paid bi-weekly, it’ll be the equivalent to one paycheck (for the whole month). You’ll receive a check every two weeks from EDD. See what I mean about basing your time off of what you can afford????
9) At the end of the six weeks after you deliver, you’ll get an application along with your final check. The application is for what’s called Family Bonding or Baby Bonding Time – which is basically an extension that will last for another six weeks. This is completely optional.
10) Once all of the disability time and payments have been exhausted then I’ll use my vacation and sick time from work. You should always hold onto those hours until after the disability is done – not before!
Talk to your spouse or partner to determine what will work for you. Do as much reading and planning as you can, so that you’ll be confident in whatever decision you make. I started thinking about all of this during my second trimester so that I’d be prepared once the time got closer.
I hope this answers any questions you may have had or at least satisfied your curiosity on how it all works. E-mail me if you want to chat further about it!
Love & Hugs,
Here’s the link to the EDD website’s page on disability for more information.