Disability insurance is designed to replace income when an employee is medically certified as unable to work due to an injury or medical condition. Disability is defined as any mental or physical illness or injury that causes a person to be medically unable to from performing their usual and customary job duties according to California Unemployment Insurance Code, Section 2626.
New, benefit-eligible employees regularly scheduled to work 50% FTE or more are eligible for USC’s Basic and Supplemental Disability plans (explained below) and are automatically enrolled in the USC Basic Disability plan at the time of hire.
Employees have the choice to waive the USC plans and instead enroll in California State Disability Plan, but after the time of hire any changes will take effect the next available quarter (in other words, changes only take effect on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, or Oct. 1).
Employees who waive USC’s Basic and Supplemental Disability plans and enroll in the California State Disability Plan must file their Disability or Paid Family Leave claims directly with the state Employee Development Department (EDD) – their website explains how their disability program works, how to file an online claim and how the weekly benefit is calculated. When employees call the state or file your online claim, they will be asked:
- Who is your employer? Answer: University of Southern California (do not give them your department name).
- What is your employer’s address? (They will send forms to verify last day worked and wages.) Answer: USC Disability Office, 3720 S. Flower Street, 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90089.
Employees enrolled in USC benefits (medical, dental, etc.) must arrange to continue paying their premiums since they will not receive disability pay from USC. Contact the HR Service Center at email@example.com or 213-821-8100 for help setting up payments. Note: If the employee does not set up payment their benefits can be cancelled after three months of non-payment.
The USC plan mirrors the California state disability plan—both of which are short-term plans that provide coverage for up to 52 weeks, after a seven-day unpaid waiting period. Either way, coverage begins the first day of employment, as mandated by state law.
To ensure that all benefits-eligible faculty and staff (not including Verdugo Hills or Las Vegas Healthcare Center employees) are given notice at least 30 days prior to these new rates taking effect, please note that for the 2023 calendar year, the USC Basic Disability Plan and the California State Disability Plan will see a reduction to the contribution withholding percentage and the maximum yearly contribution required.
|Disability plan||USC Basic||State of California|
|Maximum taxable wage||$153,164||$153,164|
|Maximum annual contribution (pretax)||$1,378.48||$1,378.48|
|Pay||70% of base weekly pay up to a maximum of $2,062/week, less withholding, for no longer than 52 weeks.||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.|
|Disability plan||USC Basic||State of California|
|Maximum taxable wage||$145,600||$145,600|
|Maximum annual contribution (pretax)||$1,601.60||$1,601.60|
|Pay||70% of base weekly pay up to a maximum of $1,960/week, less withholding, for no longer than 52 weeks||60 to 70% (depending on income) of wages earned 5- to 18-months prior to your claim’s start date. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $1,540 for a period of no longer than 52 weeks.|
After 12 months of active benefits-eligible employment, employees are also eligible for USC’s Supplemental Disability plan. The Supplemental Disability plan provides a larger percentage of base wages for up to 52 weeks. In addition, employees enrolled in Supplemental Disability will receive no-cost Long-Term Disability coverage paid by USC, which extends coverage beyond the initial 52 weeks.
Employees must enroll in Supplemental Disability within 30 days of their hire date or they will have to wait until the next open enrollment period to elect coverage. If enrollment occurs during open enrollment but after the employee’s first work anniversary, benefit limitations on some pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy) will apply. Employees concerned about pre-existing condition limitations should contact the HR Service Center.
Employees pay a premium for both the Basic and Supplemental Disability plans, which is deducted through payroll reduction. All rates are subject to change at any time.
- Cost per pay period (pretax): 1.1% to a yearly maximum of $1,601.60
- Pays: 70% of weekly base pay up to a maximum of $1,960/week, less withholding
- Duration: Maximum of 52 weeks
- Cost per pay period (pretax): 0.3% of base pay
- 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
USC Long Term
- Cost per pay period (pretax): No additional cost for employees enrolled in supplemental plan
- Pays: 70% of monthly base pay
- Duration: until age 65
The duration of benefits depends on the employee’s age and continued certification of disability by a medical professional. Benefit payments will continue until the employee reaches the maximum age or are no longer disabled, whichever occurs first.
|Age at onset of disability||Maximum duration of benefits|
|61 or younger||Attainment of age 65|
|62 but not yet 63||3 years and 6 months|
|63 but not yet 64||3 years|
|64 but not yet 65||2 years and 6 months|
|65 but not yet 66||2 years|
|66 but not yet 67||1 year and 9 months|
|67 but not yet 68||1 year and 6 months|
|68 but not yet 69||1 year and 3 months|
|69 or older||1 year|
If employee is unsure as to which disability plan they may be enrolled in, they should review their pay slip under “Deductions” to determine which of the following disability plans they are enrolled in:
- USC Voluntary Disability (VDI) – basic plan
- USC Supplemental Disability – supplemental plan
- SDI Disability – California state plan
Learn more about disability insurance:
- Financially preparing for disability
- Why do I have to pay for disability insurance
- What is an eligible disability claim?
- What is Paid Family Leave (PFL)?
- What is Faculty Paid Parental Leave?
- How to apply for disability or PFL
- Benefits during disability
- Returning to work
- More information on specific leaves
- Contact information and resources
Financially preparing for disability
State law regulates the payment of salary, but that does not apply to disability payments – delays may occur. Employees will need to access another source of funds (such as emergency savings) if benefit payments are delayed.
Even though a disability payment is processed by USC Payroll, the timing for payment could differ from an employee’s regular pay cycle – it depends on when the employee filed their claim and whether Broadspire has everything they need to finalize the claim. The most common reason for delayed benefit payments is lack of responsiveness from physicians. Employees (or a family member) must ensure that the physician returns all paperwork in a timely manner, otherwise payment will be delayed. No payment can be made until Broadspire receives all needed documentation.
Why do I 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 are not managed by USC.
What is an eligible disability claim?
Employees who have an illness or injury that causes them to suffer a loss of wages and renders them unable to work due to the non-work-related illness or injury, pregnancy, or childbirth, may be eligible for disability benefits. For more information contact Broadspire, USC’s third party administrator, at 800-495-2315.
What is Paid Family Leave (PFL)?
Employees may use PFL for baby bonding or when taking time off work to care for a seriously-ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner for a total of eight weeks. Employees 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. The state determines benefit amount.
Military Exigency: PFL provides benefits to eligible California workers who need time off work to participate in a qualifying event because a family member’s military deployment to a foreign county.
What is Faculty Paid Parental Leave (FPPL)?
Faculty requesting leaves for family-related reasons should review the section on New baby or adoption 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 9 of the Faculty Handbook provides additional information about Paid Parental Leave.
According to the Faculty Handbook, FPPL is a USC benefit meant to run concurrent 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, so as to equal full pay for up to 10 weeks.
How to apply for disability or PFL
How an employee applies depends on which plan they elected.
Employees who elected California State coverage can initiate their claim by contacting Employment Development Department (EDD) as follows:
- Website: https://www.edd.ca.gov
- Phone: 800-480-3287
Employees who elected USC Basic or USC Supplemental Plan needs to initiate a disability claim with Broadspire by calling 800-495-2315, option 1.
To receive disability benefits:
- A physician must certify by providing objective findings that an employee has physical or mental condition that prevents them from performing usual and customary work duties (a note excusing an employee from work is not sufficient).
- Employee must suffer a wage loss due to your medical condition.
- Objective medical evidence must support your disability and medical certification must be submitted but no later than 60 days after the start of disability.
- Disability claims can only be classified as a disability if an employee 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 start of disability but no later than 60 days after the start of disability.
If the employee 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 disability is work-related
- Whether employee previously filed a claim for the same disability
- Whether employee is confined or have 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 the employee initiates their claim with Broadspire:
- Within 24 hours a claims examiner will call the employee to gather more information.
- After speaking with the claims examiner, within five business days the employee 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 your benefits.
- The employee should complete every form in the packet and send it back to Broadspire, except for the physician’s certification form, which is for 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 employee from Broadspire indicating that disability benefits have been either approved or denied.
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 employee 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 employee 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.
Employees with questions about their check should email the HR Service Center or call 213-821-8100.
Benefits during disability
USC will continue to pay the employer portion for employees on approved leave. Note that to maintain coverage, the employee must continue to pay his/her portion of the insurance premium.
In cases where:
- An employee is receiving workers’ compensation benefits from our workers’ comp administrator (Broadspire) in lieu of disability payments, or
- If disability payments are not sufficient to pay benefit premiums, or
- An employee is receiving disability benefits from the state,
the employee must arrange to continue paying his/her portion of the benefit premiums. Premium payments must be made via credit card or cashier’s check made payable to “USC” and mailed to USC Benefits at 3720 S Flower St, CUB 200, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0704.
If arrangements are not made to continue paying the benefit premiums while on leave, the coverage will be cancelled after 60 days of nonpayment. If coverage is cancelled due to nonpayment, the employee will not be eligible for COBRA, and the employee will need to go to www.healthcare.gov or call (800) 318-2596 (24/7 access) to review options available through the Affordable Care Act.
For medical, dental and vision benefits – when the university stops paying the employer portion, the employee will have the opportunity to elect COBRA coverage. COBRA allows the employee to continue health benefits coverage for an additional 18 months on USC’s Network Plan, as well as dental and vision plans; it allows 36 months on other medical plans. In all cases, the coverage continues provided the employee pays the full premium plus an administrative fee; see Leaving USC for premium rates.
If COBRA is not a viable option, visit www.healthcare.gov or call (800) 318-2596 (24/7 access) to review options available through the Affordable Care Act.
The Employee Gateway’s “Going on leave?” section has more information on benefit eligibility and time off accruals during leave.
Returning to work
If an employee is release to return to work but working a reduced schedule (i.e., four hours per day), at the end of each pay period the employee must fax a timesheet with dates and hours worked to Broadspire at 888-488-9544. It will be used to calculate wage loss. Include claim number on all faxes sent to Broadspire. If 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 employee has been released to return to work with physical or hourly restrictions, they should notify their supervisor/HR Partner and Interactive Process Center of Excellence (IPCOE). The HR Partner and IPCOE will assess whether the employee can be accommodated based on the restrictions. If it is determined that your home department can accommodate, you must return to work on the agreed-upon return date.
For more information, please email the HR Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 213-821-8100. More information can be found in the Return-to-Work section of the Unpaid Accommodated Medical Leave policy.
More information on specific leaves
The Employee Gateway’s New baby or adoption section has detailed information on maternity disability 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.
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.
Contact information and resources
USC Plan Administrator, Broadspire | https://myclaim.choosebroadspire.comadspire.com
All disability and workers’ compensation questions can be directed to Broadspire, which also offers online and mobile access through the MyClaimSM Mobile App.
USC Disability Management
Email the USC HR Service Center at email@example.com or 213-821-8100.
State of California Plan
- Leave Checklist
- Faculty Paid Parental Leave Request
- 2022 USC Disability and Paid Family Leave Plan Voluntary Plan Document
- Short Term Disability Plan Summary
- Short Term Disability Plan Document
- Long Term Disability Plan Summary
- Long Term Disability Plan Document
Disability benefits fraud is a crime