Disability overview

Disability insurance is designed to replace income when an employee is medically certified as unable to work due to an injury or medical condition.

Summaries of USC’s short-term, long-term, and supplemental disability plans are provided below.

[Verdugo Hills employees should refer to the Verdugo Hills employee page. Las Vegas Healthcare Center employees should refer to the Las Vegas Healthcare Center employee page.]

Short Term Disability insurance

What is it? Short-term disability insurance provides up to 52 weeks of coverage, after a seven-day unpaid waiting period.

How does it work? California state law requires that all employees have short-term disability insurance, so at the time of hire, California faculty and staff are automatically enrolled in the California State Disability Insurance (“CA SDI”).

If preferred, benefits-eligible faculty and staff may choose to instead enroll in USC’s Basic Short Term Disability insurance, a California-approved Voluntary Disability Insurance (“VDI”) program. This provides the same amount of withholding and duration of 52 weeks as well as additional benefits:

  • Participants of the USC Basic Short Term Disability plan generally receive a greater benefit than they would under CA SDI.
  • Only participants of the USC Basic Short Term Disability plan may choose to enhance their coverage by also electing the USC Supplemental Short Term Disability plan (details below).

Please refer to the chart below to understand the rate, taxable wage maximum, and benefits provided under CA SDI and USC Basic plans.

Disability planUSC BasicState of California
2024 rate1.1%1.1%
Maximum taxable wageNo capNo cap
Maximum annual contribution (pre-tax)N/AN/A
Benefits/pay70% of base weekly pay up to a maximum of $2,062 per week, less withholding.Approximately 60% – 70% (depending on income) of wages earned 5 to 18 months prior to the claim start date. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $1,620.Approximately 60 to 70% (depending on income) of wages earned 5 to 18 months prior to the claim start date. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $1,620 for a period of no longer than 52 weeks.

Faculty and staff can verify the disability plan they are enrolled in by reviewing their pay slips. Under “Deductions” will be either:

  •  “USC Voluntary Disability (VDI)” – which is USC Basic Short Term Disability insurance – or
  • “SDI Disability” – which is the California State plan.

Individuals can only change their enrollment through Open Enrollment.

Note: Per State of California guidelines, student workers are exempt from paying the 1.1% rate for CA SDI when fully enrolled in courses at the university. Students working during the summer break will see a deduction of 1.1% for CA SDI.  

Supplemental disability

What is it? Supplemental Disability insurance provides a larger percentage of base wages for up to 52 weeks. Eligibility to enroll begins after 12 months of active benefits-eligible employment and is only available when already enrolled in USC Basic Short Term Disability insurance.

How does it work? Employees must enroll in Supplemental Disability within 30 days of their hire date, or they will have to wait until the next enrollment period (typically occurs in the fall) to elect coverage. If enrollment occurs during Open Enrollment but after the faculty or staff’s first work anniversary, benefit limitations on some pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy) will apply. For more information, contact the HR Service Center.

The cost for Supplemental Disability, provided as follows, is deducted through payroll reduction and rates are subject to change at any time.

  • Cost per pay period (pretax): 0.3% of base pay
  • Pays/duration:
    • 100% of weekly base pay – one week for each year of employment, up to a maximum of 10 weeks
    • 80% of weekly base pay – remainder of 52 weeks

Long Term Disability insurance

What is it? Long Term Disability insurance begins after 52 weeks of Short Term Disability insurance.

How does it work? To ensure that Trojan faculty and staff are financially protected, USC provides – at no cost – Long Term Disability insurance through MetLife for all eligible faculty and staff. With Long Term Disability insurance, financial protection includes:

  • Income replacement on a partial or full disability basis
  • Coverage that could replace up to 60 percent of their income up to $15,000 per month
  • Monthly payments made directly to the employee

For more details, visit metlife.com/USC.

Learn more about disability insurance:

Financially preparing for disability

State law does not regulate disability payments– which may result in a delay. Faculty and staff should be prepared to have access to another source of funds if benefit payments are delayed.

USC Payroll processes a disability payment, but the timing for payment depends on when the faculty or staff member filed their claim and whether Broadspire has everything they need to finalize the claim. The most common reason for delayed benefit payments is a lack of responsiveness from physicians. The faculty or staff member(or a family member) must ensure that the physician returns all medical documentation to support the disability in a timely manner, otherwise, payment will be delayed. No payment can be made until Broadspire receives all documentation.

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Why do USC faculty and staff have to pay for disability insurance?

California state law requires that all employees be provided with disability insurance. The program is funded through employee payroll deductions.

All other states outside of California are mandated by their corresponding state regulations, which USC does not manage.

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What is an eligible disability claim?

Faculty and staff who have an illness or injury that causes them to suffer a loss of wages and renders them unable to work due to non-work-related illness or injury, pregnancy, or childbirth, may be eligible for disability benefits. Contact Broadspire, USC’s third-party administrator, or the State of California Plan, for more information.

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How to apply for disability

How a USC faculty or staff member applies depends on their elected plan.

Those who elected California State coverage can initiate their claim by contacting Employment Development Department (EDD) at 800-480-3287.

Those who elected USC Basic or USC Supplemental Plan need to initiate a disability claim with Broadspire by calling 800-495-2315, option 1.

To receive disability benefits, an individual must meet the following requirements:

  •  A physician must certify, by providing objective findings, that an individual has a physical or mental condition that prevents them from performing usual and customary work duties (a note excusing an employee from work is not sufficient).
  • The faculty or staff member must suffer a wage loss due to a medical condition.
  • Objective medical evidence supporting the disability and medical certification must be submitted no later than 60 days after the start of the disability.
  • Disability claims can only be classified as a disability if an individual is medically certified to be off more than eight consecutive days.
  • Disability claims must be submitted no earlier than nine days after the first day of the start of disability but no later than 60 days after the start of disability.

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What to provide when filing a claim

If a faculty or staff member has a disabling injury or illness, they need to notify their manager and HR Partner, and then call Broadspire, USC’s third-party administrator, at 800-495-2315 with the following information ready:

  • Home department name
  • Social Security number
  • Employee number
  • Home address and telephone number
  • Date of hire
  • Employment status (full-time/part-time)
  • Job title
  • Last day worked
  • Date expected to return to work
  • Description of disability
  • Whether the disability is work-related
  • Whether the employee previously filed a claim for the same disability
  • Whether the employee is confined or has been admitted to a hospital, for how long, and the name and address of the hospital
  • Doctor’s name, address, phone, and fax number

After they initiate their claim with Broadspire:

  • Within 24 hours, a claims examiner will call the individual to gather more information.
  • After speaking with the claims examiner, within five business days, the individual will receive a claims packet (if not received in that time frame, they should call the claims examiner to find out when it will arrive or to request another packet be sent). This step is crucial to begin receiving benefits.
  • The individual should complete every form in the packet and send it back to Broadspire, except for the physician’s certification form, which is for the employee’s primary treating doctor to complete and forward to Broadspire.

When all packet paperwork is received, including the physician’s certification form, and the claim has been accepted, a letter will be sent to the individual from Broadspire indicating that disability benefits have been either approved or denied.

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Payments while on disability

If the claim has been approved and benefits are payable, Broadspire will provide authorization for payment to USC and the information will be entered into Workday for review and payment.

The disability check will be paid according to the pay cycle the individual was on prior to leave. If payment does not arrive via payment location election (either automatic deposit or paper check to the employee’s department) within five business days from the authorization date provided by Broadspire, the individual should contact the Broadspire claims examiner to ensure that their claims packet was received and all forms were properly completed.

If payment authorization is received late from Broadspire, USC Payroll Services will process payment within five business days from when the authorization was received. On-demand payments are distributed based on payment location election in Workday.

For payroll dates, refer to the Payroll schedules.

Individuals with questions about their checks should email the HR Service Center or call 213-821-8100.

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Long Term Disability claims process

If a faculty or staff member needs to file a Long Term Disability (LTD) claim due to a disabling condition that prevents or limits their ability to work. MetLife will manage the intake, management, and resolution of the claim. Please visit https://metlife.com/usc  to read the step-by-step process of the LTD claims process. They can check the status of their claim by visiting www.metlife.com/mybenefits or by calling MetLife at 1-888-777-8432.

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Benefits during disability

USC will continue to pay the employer portion for employees on approved leave. In order to maintain coverage, the individual must continue to pay their portion of the insurance premium.

In cases where:

  • An individual is receiving workers’ compensation benefits from the workers’ comp administrator (Broadspire) in lieu of disability payments, or
  • If disability payments are not sufficient to pay benefit premiums, or
  • An individual is receiving disability benefits from the state,

the individual must arrange to continue paying their portion of the benefit premiums. Premium payments must be made via HealthEquity.

The Employee Gateway’s “Going on leave?” section has more information on the following:

  • What happens if an individual does not continue paying the benefit premiums
  • When an individual will be able to elect COBRA coverage
  • As well as benefits eligibility and time off accruals during leave

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Returning to work

If an employee is released to return to work but working a reduced schedule (i.e., four hours per day), at the end of each pay period, the individual must fax a timesheet with dates and hours worked to Broadspire at 888-488-9544. It will be used to calculate wage loss. Include the claim number on all faxes sent to Broadspire. If the employee needs their claim number, they should call Broadspire at 800-495-2315. Failing to do this in a timely manner will result in a late disability payment.

If the individual has been released to return to work with physical or hourly restrictions, they should notify their supervisor, HR Partner, and the Interactive Process Center of Excellence (IPCOE).  The HR Partner and IPCOE will assess whether the individual can be accommodated based on the restrictions. If it is determined that their home department can accommodate, the individual must return to work on the agreed-upon return date.

For more information, please email the HR Service Center at uschr@usc.edu or call 213-821-8100. More information can be found in the Return-to-Work section of the Unpaid Accommodated Medical Leave policy.

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More information on specific leaves

Parental leave

The Employee Gateway’s Parental Leave section has detailed information on parent leave.

Paid Family Leave (PFL)

PFL may be used by employees to care for the serious health condition of a family member or to bond with a child for a total of eight weeks. You have one year from the date of the event to use the benefit for care, or one year from the date of a child’s birth or adoption to use the benefit for bonding.

California workers may also be eligible to receive PFL benefits when taking time off to care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or registered domestic partner. Contact the HR Service Center for more information.

Payments are determined by the state of California.

Faculty Paid Parent Leave (FPPL)

Faculty requesting leaves for family-related reasons should review the section on Parental Leave found on the Employee Gateway. Note that Faculty Paid Parental Leave is a USC benefit for full-time faculty. Faculty members must complete and submit a Faculty Paid Parental Leave Request following the established procedures of their school. Faculty Paid Parental Leave Requests are for 10 consecutive weeks of full-time leave. For faculty on 12-month contracts, there is no vacation accrual during an approved faculty-paid parental leave. If the leave request is approved by the relevant dean, the request will be forwarded to the Provost’s Office for a final review and decision. Chapter 3 of the Faculty Handbook provides additional information about Paid Parental Leave.

According to the Faculty Handbook, FPPL is a USC benefit meant to run concurrently with any leave provided by law in connection with the birth or adoption of a child. FPPL will run concurrently and supplement the benefits that the individual would be entitled to receive equal full pay for up to 10 weeks.

Non-paid medical leaves

Employees should discuss eligibility for non-paid medical leaves such as FMLA (Family Medical Leave) and CFRA (California Family Rights Act) with their manager or HR Partner.

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Contact information and resources

USC Plan Administrator, Broadspire | https://myclaim.choosebroadspire.com/  or call 800-495-2315
All disability and workers’ compensation questions can be directed to Broadspire, which offers online and mobile access through the MyClaimSM Mobile App.

USC Disability Management

Email the USC HR Service Center at uschr@usc.edu or call 213-821-8100

State of California Plan

www.edd.ca.gov or call at 800-480-3287

MetLife Long Term Disability insurance

Email: DisabilityAppeals@metlife.com or call at 1-888-777-8432

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*Workers’ compensation and disability benefits fraud is a crime. Making a knowingly false statement to obtain workers’ compensation or disability benefits is a crime punishable by up to five years in state prison, a $50,000 fine, and full restitution.

Report workers’ compensation or disability fraud to the anonymous hotline: 888-323-3832