California Maternity Leave

California offers two benefits for maternity leave, Disability and Paid Family Leave. These benefits are taken consecutively, not concurrently. First, California's SDI program covers mothers who are temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy and childbirth. The usual period of disability recognized by the SDI program for a normal pregnancy begins four weeks before the birth of a child and extends to six weeks after the birth of the child. However, a physician may certify to longer periods if there are medical complications, inability to perform regular or customary job duties, or a Cesarean section was performed. When disability benefits are exhausted, California Paid Family Leave (PFL) is the next benefit offered to mothers. PFL provides up to six weeks, over a 12-month period, of partial pay to employees who take time off from work to care for a seriously ill family member (child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner) or to bond with a new child entering the family through birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Fathers are also eligible to use PFL to bond with a new child entering the family. Under SDI and PFL recipients receive approximately 60 to 70 percent of their salary while on leave.  As of January 1, 2019, the maximum weekly benefit is $1,252.
  Application Process: To apply for disability, mothers simply go to the EDD website and create an account under the benefits program section. Mothers then submit a claim via the EDD website using the SDI Online link. Once mothers have an active disability claim for maternity leave, they will automatically be sent the form to transition from disability to PFL for bonding with the new baby after the final disability payment. If the disability claim was filed using SDI online then the EDD will send an email notification (EDD account mailbox) when it is time to complete the bonding form for PFL. Fathers applying for PFL must first register with the EDD to create an account, then they simply submit a new claim using the SDI Online link on the EDD website. Taxability: With respect to California State Disability benefits, they are not taxable by either the IRS, or by the state of California. Therefore, mothers will not receive a tax form for it. PFL benefits are taxable for Federal purposes but are not taxable or reportable for the state of California. The EDD provides form 1099G to PFL recipients to report income received and forwards a copy to the IRS PFL benefits are subject to federal income tax. However, PFL benefits are not subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. And, Employers do not need to pay federal unemployment tax on an employee’s PFL benefits. PFL recipients can exclude an amount equal to the non-deductible payments he/she made to the SDI program. This means an employee can exclude up to the amount of payments they made in years they did not itemize on their federal return.   Maya Kosa CPA, Tax Senior  
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