Disability

Disability insurance is designed to replace income when you are medically certified as unable to work due to an injury or medical condition. Disability is defined as any mental or physical illness or injury which prevents you from performing your regular or customary work according to California Unemployment Insurance Code, Section 2626.

New employees are automatically enrolled in the USC basic disability plan at the time of hire. You may opt out of the USC plan and enroll in the California state disability plan if you wish, but after the time of hire, any changes will only take effect the next available quarter (in other words, your change will only take effect on January 1, April 1, July 1 or October 1).

Employees who enroll in the state 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 you call the state or file your online claim, you will be asked the following questions:

  1. Who is your employer? Answer: University of Southern California (do not give them your department name)
  2. What is your employer’s address? (They will send forms to verify last day worked and wages.) Answer: USC Disability Office, 3434 S Grand Ave, CAL 120, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2814

If you have USC benefits (medical, dental, etc.) you must arrange to continue paying your premiums since you will not receive disability pay from USC. Contact the HR Service Center at uschr@usc.edu or (213) 821-8100 for help setting up payments. NOTE: If you do not set up payment your 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 7-day unpaid waiting period. Either way, your coverage begins the first day of employment, as mandated by state law.

Disability plan USC Basic State of California
2016 rate 0.9% 0.9%
Maximum taxable wage $110,902 $110,902
Maximum annual contribution (pretax) $998.12 $998.12
Pay 70% of gross pay weekly up to a maximum of $1,493 per week, less withholding, for no longer than 52 weeks 55% of gross pay weekly up to maximum of $1,173 per week for no longer than 52 weeks

After 12 months of active benefits-eligible employment, you are also eligible for the USC supplemental disability plan. The supplemental plan provides a larger percentage of your gross wages for up to 52 weeks. In addition, for all employees enrolled in supplemental disability, USC also pays for long-term disability, which extends coverage beyond the initial 52 weeks.

You must enroll in supplemental disability within 30 days of your hire date or you will have to wait until the next open enrollment period. If you enroll during open enrollment but after your first anniversary, benefit limitations on some pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy) will take effect (i.e., you may only receive the basic plan benefit of 70% of base salary).

You pay a premium for both the basic and supplemental plans, which is deducted through payroll reduction. The state determines the annual rate. USC determines the annual basic and supplemental rates. All rates are subject to change at any time.

Disability plan Cost per pay period (pretax) Pays Duration
USC Basic .9% of gross pay to a yearly maximum of $998.12 70% of gross pay to a weekly maximum of $1,493 Maximum of 52 weeks
USC Supplemental 0.3% of gross pay 100% of weekly gross pay One week for each year of employment up to a maximum of 10 weeks
80% of weekly gross pay Remainder of 52 weeks
USC Long Term No additional cost for employees enrolled in supplemental plan 70% of monthly gross pay Until age 65
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

Not sure which disability plan you’re enrolled in? Your pay slip indicates:

  • USC Voluntary Disability (VDI) = basic plan
  • USC Supplemental Disability = supplemental plan
  • SDI Disability = California state plan

Why do I have to pay for disability insurance, even if I don’t want it?

The program is mandated by state law, and funded through employee payroll deductions.

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 to bond with a child or to care for a serious health condition of a family member (consult with the HR Service Center to determine which family members qualify) for a total of 6 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. There is a 7-day unpaid waiting period before benefits begin, but mothers who are taking baby bonding time following their maternity leave have already fulfilled the 7-day waiting period. The state determines benefit amount.

What is Faculty Paid Parental Leave?

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.

How to apply for disability or PFL

How you apply depends on which plan you elected.

If you elected the state plan (SDI) you must file directly with the California Employment Development Department – you can do so online or by calling (800) 480-3287.

The rest of this section is for those who elected the USC Basic Disability Plan:

Leave Checklist – this checklist, designed for disability, maternity, Faculty Paid Parental Leave and Paid Family Leave, will help guide you through your disability claim, but because all considerations may not be covered, be sure to consult with your home department for more information.

To receive disability benefits:

    • A physician must certify by providing objective findings that you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from performing your regular work duties (a note excusing you from work is not sufficient)
    • A physician must certify that you will be off work more than 7 days
    • You must suffer a wage loss due to your medical condition
    • Objective medical evidence must support your disability

If you have a disabling injury or illness, first notify your manager and HR Partner. 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 you previously filed a claim for the same disability
    • Whether you are 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 you initiate your claim with Broadspire:

    • Within 24 hours a claims examiner will call you to gather more information.
    • After speaking with your claims examiner, within 5 business days you will receive a claims packet (if not received in that time frame, call your 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.
    • Complete every form in this packet and send back to Broadspire, except for the physician’s certification form, which is for your primary treating doctor to complete and forward to Broadspire.

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

If your 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.

Your disability check will be paid according to the pay cycle you were on prior to your leave. If your payment does not arrive (via your payment location election, which is either automatic deposit or paper check to your department) within 5 business days from the authorization date provided by Broadspire, contact your Broadspire claims examiner to ensure your claims packet was received and all forms were properly completed.

If your payment authorization is received late from Broadspire, USC Payroll Services will process your payment within 5 business days from when the authorization was received. On-demand payments are distributed based on your payment location election in Workday.

Long-term disability payments are processed monthly.

For payroll dates, see the Payroll Schedules.

Questions about your check? Email the HR Service Center or call (213) 821-8100.

Disability benefits fraud is a crime

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Workers’ compensation/disability fraud poster

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.

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 you are back to work but working a reduced schedule (i.e., 4 hours per day), at the end of each pay period you must fax your timesheet with dates and hours worked to Broadspire at (888) 488-9544. It will be used to calculate your wage loss. Include your claim number on all faxes sent to Broadspire. If you need your claim number, call Broadspire at (800) 495-2315. Failing to do this in a timely manner will result in a late disability payment.

If you have been placed on modified duty, notify your manager and your claims examiner, and alert the University Leave Coordinator by calling (213) 821-8100. If it is determined that your home department can accommodate,  you must return to work on the agreed-upon return date.

Specific leave information

Maternity leave

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 6 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 parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild or sibling. Contact the HR Service Center for more information.

There is a 7-day unpaid waiting period before benefits begin, but mothers who are taking baby bonding time following their maternity leave have already fulfilled the 7-day waiting period.

Payments are determined by the state of California.

Non-paid medical leaves

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

Contact information and resources

USC Plan Administrator, Broadspire | https://myclaim.choosebroadspire.com
(800) 495-2315
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 (via the USC HR Service Center) uschr@usc.edu or (213) 821-8100

State of California Plan | www.edd.ca.gov
(800) 480-3287

Leave Checklist
Faculty Paid Parental Leave Request
Disability and PFL Basic Plan Document
Short Term Disability Plan Summary
Short Term Disability Plan Document
Long Term Disability Plan Summary
Long Term Disability Plan Document