Family Temporary Disability
Insurance (FTDI)

Some Tips and Pitfalls from First-hand Experience

Humans in the Loop

Include a note, however you file your initial claim or first time sheet, that describes how you intend on using time off from work.

Remember that there is a low-paid government worker reviewing your claim and doesn't know anything about you. Just write a note about your weird work schedule, if you plan to take your claim in 6 week or stretch it out, and keep including notes on every form you send in.

If they see an issue they can (and often will) just call you ask for clarification. They WANT to pay out Paid Family Leave dollars. But they will deny you, or delay you, or baffle you if they don't understand.

They also make mistakes. Surprise!

Duration of Benefit

California awards have a total dollar amount and a weekly maximum. It is designed to be used in 6 sequential weeks. In fact, you have up to a year to use the award and it can be spread over that year. In effect, you can take less time off per week and stretch it over more than 6 weeks. There can also be a break in which you return to work full-time and then return to taking time off. Of course, this is indicated on the initial claim form as part-time work.

Unfortunately, after 6 weeks EDD (the agency in charge of PFL) will automatically send you a notice that your claim is complete and you have returned to work. Every subsequent letter will include this auto-generated form notifying you of the end of your claim. This is bogus and often the letter will be included in the same letter as the timesheet needed to continue your claim.

Although it is reasonable and within the rules to use the benefit over more than 6 weeks it is a pain and not worth it. I recommend just taking the entire claim in 6 weeks. Not everyone has the time to call and email to the end of a longer claim.

Claim Start

The initial claim submission asks you to specify the starting date of your claim. In the case of a baby's birth, for example, you can select the day the baby was born - but you can select a date AFTER that as well.

There are good reason's to start your claim as soon as possible but consider starting your claim on a Sunday or the start of your pay period.

The reason is that the state sends you a time sheet to fill in your hours worked (and earnings) for the two weeks following the start of your claim. Then another time sheet for the next two weeks.

Is it easier to fill out your hours worked (and earnings) for Sunday - Saturday or maybe Wednesday - Tuesday? See the time sheet form below. If you have the flexibility it may be worth it to simplify.

DE-2580GF Time Sheet

Time Sheets

The Paid Family Leave program is geared towards regular 40 hour work weeks - not irregular work. An average week's earnings are used to calculate the total award and weekly max. In California, EDD will ask each week what the average earnings prior to the claim were and then you enter in how much you earned that week. If you earned more than the average then no payment. If you earned less than the average then you'll receive payment up to the weekly max.

But that can get a little weird if you work a lot one week and very little the next. Also, many people work a 9/80 or 4-5-10 schedule where you work 9.5 hour days Monday - Thursday with an 8 hour day one Friday and 0 hours the next Friday. By design you would alternate working 44 and 36 hours.

Normally the weekly benefit is calculated every week but if they know you work an alternative work schedule EDD will calculate your benefit using two weeks, the two weeks on your time sheet. Note: the Track Benefit tab can track your benefit bi-weekly or show individual weeks with positive and negative awards.

Example PFL Award - Real

Time Labels

Notice on the time sheet form that there is no place to indicate the TYPE of hours. Leaving some of the detail for a later section, sick leave is the same as time worked while vacation is not. So you may wonder: how do I indicate that I took sick leave?

Talking with some of the claim handlers at EDD they would like to see a short label next to the number of hours worked to indicate the type of time being used. SL - sick leave, VAC - vacation, HOL - holiday, etc.

For example, I would indicate a regular "8" for 8 hours worked, but "8 - SL" for a sick day, "8 - HOL" for a holiday, and "0 - VAC" for a day taken as vacation (zero hours "worked" but it lets them know it was vacation).

This step alone cleared up a lot of mistakes.

Types of Time

The rules on claiming time off can be tricky and confusing. It depends on your company policies but a few rules of thumb might help.

Sick leave is the same as working. Holiday is the same as working. Vacation is like taking unpaid time off. It doesn't matter that you are paid for that time. It is an acrued benefit that is voluntarily used by the employee.

In the past I have received Paid Family Leave payments for holiday time taken. Either this changed or someone made a mistake.

Some companies provide Personal Absense time off for things like medical appointments, taking care of a sick family member, or other things. This is a kind of gray zone and seems to be more like a voluntarily acrued benefit (vacation) than sick leave. EDD isn't going to read your company policy. I've seen it claimed like time worked and vacation by different people at the same company - and they both got what they claimed.

Example Auto-rejection

Just a few days after my son's birth I submitted the initial claim for online. A few weeks later I receive a letter indicating that the claim had been accepted and notified me of my total award and weekly maximum.

A few days later, without receiving any time sheets, I received a letter indicating that my claim had been denied as I had returned to work full time. How would they know that I've returned to work full time without ever receiving a time sheet from me? Besides, I was clearly working reduced hours at work if they had asked my employer (which they didn't and don't).

I filed an appeal (a hassle) and got to the point of having a court date assigned before I could get someone's attention at EDD. It was obvous that the claim should not have been denied and after submitting time sheets and spending a lot of time on the phone the court date was cancelled by EDD.

So what happened? On the time sheet form it states in the upper right corner that you have 20 days to return the form. Well, it had taken more than 20 days to process my claim and they hadn't received a time sheet from me - even though they never sent me one and they don't post them online to download and submit. Claim denied.


Instead of a helpful tip I just want to complain.

The EDD website makes a big deal about filing your initial claim online. Woohoo. Why aren't the blank time sheet forms online? Why can't I submit time sheets online? Why can't I just enter my hours online?

In fact, after submitting the initial claim what is the EDD login good for? There is nothing to do or see? I can't even see my benefit payments.

Bonus Complaining ( the website author)

Why does it take so long for the state to update it's website with the award/benefit numbers for the next year? In January you're typically looking at the previous year's numbers. Can't the next year's information get posted somewhere so people can plan a few months ahead of time?