Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: When my husband was self employed, we obtained disability insurance. This is a combination of state disability and workers’ compensation insurance, correct?

A: “California law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage for employees injured on the job,” says employee rights attorney Don Sessions of Don D. Sessions Law Corp. in Mission Viejo.

“The State Disability Insurance Program (SDI) provides partial wage replacement for a limited time to qualified workers who have become disabled. Workers’ compensation only compensates employees injured while engaging in work related activities. The separate programs occasionally co exist.

“SDI will sometimes compensate a recipient of workers’ compensation benefits, but only to the extent that the worker’s compensation does not pay the full amount to which the worker would be entitled under SDI.

“Therefore, if workers’ compensation is only paying 90% of what the injured worker would receive under SDI, then SDI may pay the remaining 10%.

“SDI is funded through employee payroll deductions, not the employer. Since the self employed are not necessarily “employees,” they don’t automatically have SDI coverage.

“Therefore, self employed workers may apply for ‘elective coverage.’ This will provide the worker with disability coverage. It will only compensate for on the job injuries to the extent that workers’ compensation does not pay as much as SDI would pay for the disability.

“Elective coverage can be applied for through the Employment Development Department (EDD).”

“Assuming discrimination is not part of an employer’s decision to change its benefits, there is usually nothing stopping an employer from changing benefits in the future.

“However, the employer cannot make retroactive changes and delete vacation benefits that you have already vested. You have already worked for those benefits and have earned them.

“You say that the employer ‘suddenly’ cut off one week of the paid vacation. This would be illegal if you have already earned that vacation by your work.