What are Industrial Disability Leave (IDL) Benefits?

Why are They Important?

IDL is a wage continuation program for some Government Workers. This can include people who work for the State of California, such as Government Agencies or Universities, as well as Teachers who work for Public School Districts. These employees must be members of the California Public Retirement System (CALPERS) or the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS.)

IDL is paid in lieu of the regular Workers’ Compensation Total Temporary Disability Benefits (TTD).

How Much are IDL Payments? How Long Do They Last?

The IDL benefits are the equivalent to the full amount of the Injured Worker’s salary for the first 22 days of the work-related injury or illness (a three day waiting period may apply). Thereafter, IDL benefits will be equivalent to two-thirds of the Injured Worker’s salary, payable for the next eleven months of disability.

IDL payments are based on the actual number of workdays the Injured Worker is absent. An eligible employee may receive IDL payments for a period not to exceed 52 weeks within two (2) years from the first day of disability. The 52-week eligibility period is equivalent to 365 calendar days.

How is Someone Eligible?

There are a number of requirements that are necessary for an Injured Worker to be eligible to receive IDL benefits.

First, the Injured Worker must be an active member of CALPERS or STRS. Second, the Adjusting Agency for their Workers’ Compensation Claim has found the disability as industrially caused. Third, the Industrially Injured Worker has chosen to receive IDL or did not respond to make a choice to elect or deny the benefit. Fourth, the Injured Worker has been unable to work as a result of injury or illness since the third calendar day of disability following the day of injury or illness, or  the first day the injured employee leaves work as a result of an injury resulting from a criminal act of violence against the employee, or the first day of hospitalization, or the day following the injury if the employee is absent from work for more than 14 calendar days because of the injury.

What makes IDL different than Regular Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Unlike regular Workers’ Compensation benefits, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board only has jurisdiction over disability benefit time frames, amounts and penalties. Beyond those issues, there are other rules and limitations to IDL. These other rules and limitations governing IDL may be subject to the grievance process. There are strict guidelines and timelines concerning grievance processes.

Note: It is very important that any dispute concerning IDL be acted swiftly. If there is a dispute, an Injured Worker should contact their Union representative right away to file a grievance.

How Long Can IDL Benefits Last?

As noted above, IDL benefits are payable for a maximum of 52 weeks, or 2080 work hours (40 hours/week x 52 weeks = 2080 hours for a full-time employee), within a two year period from the first date of disability. The number of eligible work hours must be prorated for employees on a different time base.

When Does IDL Start?

Prior to the start of IDL, the Injured Worker must serve a waiting period of three calendar days. The three calendar days do not need to be consecutive days or scheduled work days. The waiting period begins with the first day of disability confirmed by the Adjusting Agency. The date of injury is never part of the waiting period because any time lost on that day is paid as Administrative Time Off. The waiting period is waived if the employee is hospitalized at any time as a result of the injury or illness, temporary disability continues for more than 14 calendar days, or the injury is the result of a criminal act of violence. To track the waiting period and 14 calendar days, any day on which the employee is temporarily disabled, whether for one hour or eight hours, counts as one day of disability.

What is the Wage Amount?

IDL payments are based on Injured Worker’s current wages. For the first 22 work days or maximum of 176 hours (22 days x 8 hours/day = 176 work hours for full-time employees and prorated for different time bases), an employee receives their full net salary. Thereafter, IDL payments are based on two-thirds of the Injured Worker’s normal gross salary. Although IDL is not taxable and IDL benefits are not reported as taxable wages or other compensation on the employee’s W-2 form, the amount of IDL paid for the first 22 work days (maximum of 176 hours for full-time employees and prorated for other time bases) is reduced by the amounts that would have been withheld for taxes (federal, state, Social Security/Medicare, SDI). This is called the “reduced gross” and it is the amount reflected on the warrant register and the earnings statement. The reduced gross is calculated because the statutory intent of the IDL benefit is to provide continuation of the Injured Worker’s net compensation for the period of time they are disabled and unable to work. IDL was not designed to provide the employee with more money on disability than they would otherwise make while working.

What is needed from an Injured Workers’ Compensation Claim in order to obtain IDL?

In order to get IDL, an Injured Worker must have an accepted Workers’ Compensation Claim.   Therefore, if the Injured Workers’ compensation claim has been denied, no IDL benefits will be paid.  Therefore, it is necessary that the Injured Worker litigate their industrial Injury in order to prove up their claim so that the Claims Administrator will accept the claim as being industrial.  Acceptance of a Claim by an Claims Administrator can come in two ways.   The first way is the internal acceptance of the claim.  This means that the Claims Administrator investigated the claim and concluded that the injury was work related. This could be done by a favorable internal investigation report and/or a medical report substantiating that the injury was industrial.  The second way to get the Claims Administrator to accept the claim is to obtain a finding at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.  This will most likely require a Trial before a Workers’ Compensation Judge.  If there is a final finding by the WCAB of industrial injury, then there will be a legal basis to force the Claims Administrator to accept the injury claim.

Are there Mandatory Deductions Taken Out of IDL?

The only Mandatory Deduction taken from IDL payments is the full retirement contribution, which is based on the Injured Worker’s actual gross income. In addition, IDL payments may be subject to the following deductions: Survivor’s Benefits, Accounts Receivable, Child Support, Spousal Support, Conservatee Support, CalPERS arrears contributions, etc. (Refer to Payroll Procedures Manual section E 009 for additional information on deductions.)

Can Voluntary Deductions be Taken Out of IDL?

All voluntary deductions continue unless the Injured Worker cancels them. Since IDL is not taxable, all pre-tax deductions (e.g. health/dental premiums, co-pays, etc.) revert to regular deductions. Tax deferred deductions (e.g. deferred compensation, tax-sheltered annuities, flex reimbursement accounts, State Disability Insurance, etc.) stop during the IDL period.

An Injured Worker’s eligibility for IDL ends if any of the following occur: The employee is no longer an active member of CalPERS or CalSTRS, due to separation or retirement. The available hours of IDL benefits are exhausted or the two year time limit is exceeded.  The Injured Worker’s is no longer temporarily disabled due to the work-related injury or illness.  The Injured Worker’s condition has become Permanent and Stationary, which means that their condition has reached a point of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

9.3Edward Jay Singer
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