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On CA SDI and FMLA (for depression)--Can I Quit while on FMLA and Still Receive SDI?

After being a cancer caregiver for a year while telecommuting full-time, I fell into depression and anxiety. My doctor placed me on FMLA and CA SDI.

Much anxiety comes about when I think about returning to the office (my employer refused to allow my to continue working remotely), so I am considering quitting before or at the end of my FMLA period. Will I still be able to continue receiving CA SDI if I quit prior to FMLA end period? Will I still be able to continue receiving CA SDI if I quit at the end of my FMLA?

Response: Quitting for Reasons Connected to Your Own Health

When someone quits a job while still on FMLA and in California, where they may also be collecting temporary disability unemployment benefits, (basically a type of paid medical leave and not something many states give employees access to) the danger for employees is quitting without good cause because they can't support why it may relate to a quit attributable to the work, or employer, not even if there might be a specific provision or case giving good cause to quit due to an individual's own illness.

People often jump the gun and base the decision to quit on self diagnosing their own ability to work at the same job that has been protected by FMLA and sometimes when an employer tell them they can't allow them to return with any work restrictions that may prevent them from doing all the essential functions of a job .. which the term essential job functions often are used to reference the ADA (American with Disability Act).

On the unemployment benefit front, it's first necessary to check for a provision which can allow this personal type of quit to get regular unemployment benefits. (Table 5-2 of the non-monetary chartbook)

But one would still be wise to check the footnotes there that often explain only with good cause on the advice of a physician, or explore further into the issues of suitable work, or just being able and available to work.

In California .. exploring further to determine what make a voluntary quit due to health reasons with good cause would begin by scrolling down further at the link above to find the California UIBDG.

And given you told me the employer is no longer allowing you to telecommute raises a good reason to explore whether the employer has made a substantial change to the terms and conditions to encourage you to quit .. so they could deny regular unemployment benefits, which ironically, could actually transcend regular old UIBs to explore whether what they are doing to you, might somehow be in violation of California FMLA guidelines in some way .. to give you some leverage in the situation you're in now .. before FMLA's 12 weeks of protection are up.

Just remember, this is California's UIBDG preface to voluntary quitting with good cause:

"Good cause" is defined in Title 22, Section 1256-3(b):

"Good cause" exists for leaving work, when a substantial motivating factor in causing the claimant to leave work, at the time of leaving, whether or not work connected, is real, substantial, and compelling and would cause a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment to leave work under the same circumstances. Generally good cause for leaving work is decided on the facts at the time the claimant left work. Unless there is a timely connection between any alleged reason for leaving and the actual leaving, the employee has waived what might otherwise justify termination of the employment relationship and has negated the required causal connection between any given alleged reason for leaving and leaving. The claimant may submit several reasons for leaving work, some of which, when considered individually, do not constitute good cause. However, if one reason which is good cause is a substantial motivating factor in causing the claimant to leave work, the claimant's leaving is with good cause.

Title 22, Section 1256-3(c) provides:

Prior to leaving work, the claimant has a duty to attempt to preserve the employment relationship. Failure to do so negates what would otherwise constitute good cause.

Comments for On CA SDI and FMLA (for depression)--Can I Quit while on FMLA and Still Receive SDI?

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Sep 18, 2018
by: Anonymous

You didn't answer his question. His question is if he can still collect SDI if he quits while on FMLA/SDI. He is apparently already collecting SDI benefits and wants to know if he quits his job if he will still continue to receive them or will become ineligible.

Hi Anonymous,

Eligibility for California's temporary disability unemployment insurance program is controlled by rules I'm not intimately acquainted with.

What I do know, is the question the person asked, made me concerned they might quit their own job .. without good cause to collect any benefits, whether regular EDD benefits, or SDI benefits.

I'm not here to provide a yes, or no about getting unemployment, since that's what each and every state is charged with doing.

But I do like to provide information I'd consider first, if I were the individual thinking about quitting a job in such a way, or at a point, where it's possible to negate good cause to be eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits .. or continue SDI.

I hope you will read the information at the links below and make a judgment call for yourself .. about the problem I was reading in the question .. someone about to quit a job, but not mentioning the reason as being .. on the advice of a physician.

Eligibility for California's SDI program

Am I Eligible for Paid Family Leave Benefits?

Disqualifying yourself for quitting, not on the advice of physician during, before, or after FMLA is exhausted.

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