Who’s eligible: Beginning in 2017, all employees with full, mid-level or core benefits

Who pays: UC (Basic) and you (Voluntary)

Our premium estimator can help you understand your costs for Voluntary Disability Insurance.

Why you should consider Voluntary Disability Insurance

Time away from work for a pregnancy, illness or unexpected injury could mean months without a paycheck. While UC’s basic employer-paid disability insurance offers some protection – a benefit capped at $800 per month for six months – it probably won’t be enough to cover your expenses. For a modest monthly premium, UC’s Voluntary Disability Insurance replaces much more of your income – 60 percent of your eligible pay up to $15,000 per month – for increased financial security when you need it most.

Consider the following:

  • One in eight workers will be disabled for five years or more before they retire.[1]
  • UC does not participate in California SDI (although employees who have worked for UC for less than 18 months may have some residual SDI benefits).
  • The UC Retirement Plan (UCRP; which includes Pension Choice participants) offers disability income only to fully vested members who are disabled for a year or more — with a maximum income replacement of 25-40 percent, depending on your retirement tier. (Those who elect Savings Choice do not have UCRP Disability Income.)

2017 disability plan benefits and costs

UC-paid Basic Disability

The plan provides up to 55 percent of your eligible monthly earnings, to a maximum benefit of $800 per month, for up to six months. You’ll be covered after a 14-day waiting period, but you’ll need to use up to 22 sick days, if you have them, before benefits begin. UC pays the full cost of coverage, and you’re automatically enrolled. Your Basic Disability income is generally taxable. 

Voluntary Short-Term and/or Long-Term Disability

The plan provides up to 60 percent of your eligible earnings, to a maximum benefit of $15,000 per month. Voluntary Disability income is generally not taxable, since you pay the premiums with after-tax dollars.

The start date and duration of your coverage depends on the level of coverage you choose:

  • Short-Term only – You’ll be covered after a 14-day waiting period, but only for up to six months. You’ll need to use up to 22 sick days, if you have them, before benefits begin.
  • Long-Term only – You’ll be covered after six months, until your Social Security retirement age for most conditions. This might be a good option for employees with a lot of sick leave accrued, academic employees eligible for paid medical leave, or those who can cover household expenses without much income for up to six months. 
  • Short and Long-Term – You’ll be covered after a 14-day waiting period, until your Social Security retirement age for most conditions. You’ll need to use up to 22 sick days, if you have them, before benefits begin. Choosing both Voluntary Short and Long-Term Disability provides the most comprehensive coverage for all types of disability leaves.

Premium costs depend on your monthly salary, age and the level of coverage you choose (short-term, long-term or both); estimate your costs here.

How to enroll

Enrollment in Basic Disability insurance is automatic, as soon as you become eligible. 

Newly-hired employees are given a 31-day period of initial eligibility (PIE) to enroll in Voluntary Short- and/or Long-Term Disability. Choose the coverage you need during your PIE. Later, you may only enroll by submitting an Evidence of Insurability application (which includes a Statement of Health) to the insurance company — and you may not qualify. This is especially important if you’re considering becoming pregnant; if you wait to enroll until after you’re pregnant, your application won’t be accepted. You may reduce your level of coverage at any time. 

Important information about disability benefits

  • You must be under a doctor’s continuous care.
  • You must meet the applicable definition of disability for Basic, Voluntary Short-Term or Voluntary Long-Term benefits.
  • There’s a 14-day waiting period before you can begin receiving benefits through Basic or Voluntary Short-Term Disability. However, you’ll need to use up to 22 sick days, if you have them, before benefits begin.
  • Mental illness and substance abuse-related benefits are usually limited to a 24-month lifetime maximum through Voluntary Long-Term Disability Insurance.
  • If your disability is related to a condition you were diagnosed with, or had treatment for, in the 90 days prior to your initial enrollment in Voluntary Disability Insurance (or Supplemental Disability Insurance, if you are continuing coverage) and your disability leave begins within one year after your enrollment, you will not be eligible for Voluntary Long-Term Disability benefits for that condition. You will, however, be eligible for Voluntary Short-Term or Basic Disability benefits, and for Voluntary Long-Term Disability benefits for conditions that were not pre-existing.
  • If you are eligible for disability benefits through workers’ compensation, California SDI, Social Security, UCRP, or other sources, they will be coordinated with your Basic and/or Voluntary Disability benefits. In most cases, disability coverage from all sources combined can provide you with a maximum of 60 percent of your eligible earnings.


[1] The Council for Disability Awareness, Disability Statistics, 2012