A State-by-State Guide to Temporary and Short-Term Disability
March 31, 2023 · 8 min read
Why trust us?
Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.
You may also be eligible for state disability insurance. Called Short-Term Disability (SDI) or Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) depending on where you live, these programs are faster and easier to get than disability from the SSA. You can also get them while you're applying for SSA benefits or VA benefits, making them a great option if your state offers them.
To help you get benefits, we’ll explain what SDI and TDI are which states offer these programs, how you can qualify, and if you should apply for these instead of federal disability benefits.
What is short-term disability (SDI)?
Short-term or temporary disability insurance are state disability programs that provide payments to workers who stop working because of illness, injury, or pregnancy. These benefits are available in certain states or through a private insurance policy either from your employer or directly from an insurance company.
SDI and TDI benefits typically last three to six months and offer about 60% of your regular paycheck. Most SDI programs have a waiting period, so you won’t be eligible until a week after your illness or injury begins.
This guide will focus on the five states with short-term disability programs:
While these are the only programs specifically for people who can’t work due to a health condition, many state and federal agencies offer benefits to cover certain populations, including low-income, disabled, and elderly individuals.
What qualifies for short-term disability by state. That said, you must be unable to work and you must have documentation from your doctor to prove it.
You can commonly qualify for state disability for the following:
Illnesses that make it impossible to work and last longer than a week, such as COVID-19, cancer, and pneumonia
Pregnancy and childbirth
Recovery from an accident or surgery
Mental health conditions that leave you unable to do your job
The above isn’t a comprehensive list, but they are the most common conditions that qualify for SDI. Generally speaking, if you need leave from work for more than a week due to injury, illness, or pregnancy, you can qualify for state disability insurance.
What doesn’t qualify for short-term disability?
There are also some important disqualifiers for SDI. The following conditions or criteria may make you ineligible for SDI:
Work injuries — SDI won’t cover an injury if it happened at work and you should apply for workers’ comp instead
Elective or cosmetic surgery
Injuries received during a criminal activity
Note that employees can only qualify for state short-term disability if they pay into the program. Freelance workers and independent contractors generally aren’t eligible for short-term disability because their employer doesn’t withhold state taxes from their pay.
States with disability insurance
Five states currently offer short-term disability: California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. If you live in one of these states and have a qualifying condition, you may be able to get SDI benefits.
The table below has the details for the SDI and TDI programs in each state.
Max amount per week
Maximum benefit period
Waiting period to apply
Work history requirements
60-70% of wages
7 days unpaid
Earned at least $300 during your base period
58% of wages
14 weeks of Hawaii employment working 20 hours or more
50% of wages
Regularly employed at least 50% of full-time and making at least $15,000 per year
Up to 85% of wages
20 weeks earning at least $260 per week
4.62% of wages earned in the highest quarter of your Base Period
$1,007 ($121 minimum)
Paid at least $15,600 in the Base Period for the claim
California state disability insurance
California residents can qualify for California Disability Insurance, which can provide benefits for up to one year (52 weeks). The program covers California workers with a non-work related illness, injury, or pregnancy.
To qualify, you must also meet certain work history requirements. You must have earned at least $300 during your 12-month base period. Your payment will be 60% to 70% of your former wages, though the maximum weekly payment is $1,620.
You can apply if you’ve been unable to work for eight consecutive days, received care from a licensed physician within those eight days, and have completed a seven-day unpaid waiting period.
Hawaii offers Temporary Disability Insurance to cover people who’ve earned wages in Hawaii but are temporarily unable to work. These benefits last 26 weeks and are available to anyone who has been employed in Hawaii for at least 14 weeks prior to their injury or illness and was paid for at least 20 hours.
Those who do qualify will receive payments of up to 58% of their wages, or a weekly maximum of $765. You can apply after a seven-day waiting period and may be likely to qualify if you have an injury or illness that interferes with your regular job duties and are receiving care from a licensed physician or another healthcare provider.
New Jersey extends short-term benefits to its workers through Temporary Disability Insurance. In New Jersey, benefits can last for up to 26 weeks and are typically worth up to 85% of your wages. That said, the maximum weekly payment is $1,025 in 2023.
To qualify, you must have worked at least 20 weeks, earning at least $260 per week or at least $13,000 in combined pay during your base period of 12 months. You can apply after a seven-day waiting period.
Independent contractors do not qualify for temporary disability in New Jersey.
In New York State, workers can qualify for short-term disability if they’ve worked at least 50% of full-time and made at least $15,000 in their base period of one year. Payments can last for up to 26 weeks.
While the weekly maximum is $170, your actual payment depends on your wages. You can expect to receive up to 50% of the weekly wage you earned during the last eight weeks you worked.
Workers with an illness or injury do have to complete a seven-day waiting period before they can apply. You must also be receiving care from a healthcare provider in order to qualify.
Workers in Rhode Island may be eligible for Temporary Disability. To qualify, you must be seeing a healthcare provider for a non-work-related injury or illness. You can apply after a seven-day waiting period.
If approved, you can receive benefits for up to 30 weeks. The maximum payment is $1,007 per week, but Rhode Island determines your actual payment by calculating 4.62% of the wages you earned during the highest-earning quarter of your base period.
Your earnings during your base period also factor into your eligibility; you’ll only be eligible if you earned at least $15,600 during your base period, which is four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the start date of your disability claim.
FMLA stands for the Family and Medical Leave Act, which protects your job for up to 12 weeks of leave for approved family and medical issues. The same conditions that qualify for short-term disability usually qualify for FMLA.
The programs have one key difference: short-term disability provides pay, but FMLA generally does not. While you do stay employed on family and medical leave, it doesn’t replace the wages you’ll lose. That said, some states do have their own paid family and medical leave programs with different rules.
Keep in mind, taking FMLA makes it more difficult to get SSDI because it can interfere with the work and tax history requirements. It’s also harder to get SSI on family or medical leave because taking leave may show the SSA that you plan to return to work at some point.
States with paid family and medical leave
As of January 2023, 11 states require that employers provide paid leave if an employee has a serious medical condition or disability. With the exception of Hawaii, these states also mandate paid leave for new parents, caring for ill or injured family members, and other approved circumstances.
You can get benefits from both SSDI and short-term disability at the same time, but the SSA will reduce your SSDI payment by the amount of state benefits you receive through what’s called an “offset.”
For this reason, state disability insurance may be a better choice if you expect your condition to last for less than a year, which is commonly the case if you’re pregnant or have an injury that should completely heal. SSDI eligibility requires your condition to last at least one year, and not all conditions that qualify for SDI will qualify for SSDI.
It is possible to get SSI and short-term disability at the same time, but it’s not very likely. The SSA will consider any state benefits you receive as income, which means that most people who receive state benefits exceed SSI’s income limits.
Do you need a lawyer to apply for short-term disability?
Most people don’t need a lawyer to apply for short-term state disability insurance. The application is shorter and easier to complete than the SSA’s application, so you can probably navigate the process on your own. But if you are getting denied, a disability lawyer may be able to help.
If you want to apply for SSDI in addition to short-term disability or if you think SSDI is a better fit for your situation, working with a lawyer can make the process easier and increase your odds of approval. Take our 2-minute disability benefits quiz to understand whether or not you’ll qualify for SSDI. If you do, we’ll help match you with an experienced lawyer who can help you win the benefits you deserve.
See what benefits you qualify for instantly. Take our easy eligibility quiz.
Frequently asked questions about short-term disability
Which states offer short-term disability?
As of January 2023, only five states offer short-term or temporary disability benefits: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
How long do short-term disability benefits last?
SDI and TDI payments last up to 26 weeks (six months) in Hawaii, New York, and New Jersey; up to 30 weeks (about seven months) in Rhode Island; and up to 52 weeks (one year) in California.
How much are short-term disability benefits worth in 2023?
In California, you’ll get 60% to 70% of your wages, up to $1,620 per week. Hawaii offers 58% of your wages up to $765 per week. New Jersey pays up to 85% of your wages with a maximum weekly payment of $1,025. New York pays 50% of your wages up to $170 per week. Rhode Island pays 4.62% of your wages, with a minimum weekly payment of $121 and a maximum payment of $1,007.
Can independent contractors get short-term disability?
No, an independent contractor or freelancer can’t get short-term disability from their state in most cases. Workers must pay into the program through payroll taxes to qualify. If your employer doesn’t withhold taxes, you likely don’t qualify. People paid in all cash or off-the-books also won’t qualify. It’s also necessary to get medical care because without it, you can’t show the state that your condition is serious enough to require missed work time.
Are short-term disability benefits taxable?
It depends. Rhode Island’s temporary disability isn’t taxable. California disability benefits aren’t usually taxes, except in certain cases where you receive unemployment insurance. In New York, you won’t pay state income tax but you will pay FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) and you may pay federal income tax. New Jersey also isn’t subject to state tax but you may pay some federal income tax. For Hawaii’s temporary disability, you may pay some taxes but it depends how much your employer paid into the program.
See what you qualify for
How long has your condition made it hard to work?
Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
At the bottom of many websites, you'll find a small disclaimer: "We are not a law firm and are not qualified to give legal advice." If you see this, run the other way. These people can't help you: they're prohibited by law from giving meaningful advice, recommending specific lawyers, or even telling you whether you need a lawyer at all.
There’s no disclaimer here: Atticus is a law firm, and we are qualified to give legal advice. We can answer your most pressing questions, make clear recommendations, and search far and wide to find the right lawyer for you.
Two important things to note: If we give you legal advice, it will be through a lawyer on our staff communicating with you directly. (Don't make important decisions about your case based solely on this or any other website.) And if we take you on as a client, it will be through a document you sign. (No attorney-client relationship arises from using this site or calling us.)