Benefits and Resources for Undocumented Workers

We provide benefits and resources for California workers. Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits provide partial pay when you need time off work for your own disability or family leave.

If you are an undocumented worker in California, you can apply for DI and PFL benefits, even if you do not have a Social Security number (SSN).

It doesn’t matter what your citizenship or immigration status is; DI and PFL benefits will not affect your path to citizenship. Your information will be kept confidential.

Visit our Language Resources page for more information about the help available for non-English speakers.

Note: DI and PFL provide pay, but do not protect your job when you take leave. While you are receiving benefits, your job may be protected under other federal or state laws including:

How to Apply

Disability Insurance

If you are unable to work you can apply for DI for your own:

  • Non-workplace illness or injury.
  • Pregnancy (Pregnant workers qualify for at least four weeks before birth.)
  • Childbirth (up to six weeks for normal delivery and eight weeks for Cesarean.)

You can receive DI for up to 52 weeks if you are eligible.

Learn more about the difference between workers’ compensation and DI.

Paid Family Leave

You can apply for PFL to:

  • Care for a seriously ill family member (child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.)
  • Bond with a newborn, adopted, or foster child within one year of the child’s birth or placement in the home.
  • Participate in a qualifying event because of a family member’s military deployment.

You can receive PFL for up to 8 weeks within a 12-month period.

For DI, apply for benefits within 49 days of the first day you stop working because of your disability.

For PFL, apply for benefits within 41 days of the first day you stop working because of your need for family leave.

Note: You cannot apply early, but you can apply late if you have a good reason for the delay. If you apply late, include a letter with your application explaining the reason for your delay.

If you are an undocumented worker and you do not have your own SSN that belongs to you, you should request and submit a paper claim form. The online claim application asks for your SSN and you cannot submit your claim online without adding a SSN, but you can leave this question blank on the paper claim form.

How to Apply

To get your paper claim form, follow the instructions below.

For DI, choose one of the following options:

  • Visit Online Forms and Publications and order a form online to have it mailed to you within 10 days. Search for the Claim for Disability Insurance (DI) Benefits (DE 2501). DI forms are order only and cannot be downloaded. 
  • Visit an SDI Office.
  • Ask your doctor's office or employer for a copy of the applications.
  • Call us at 1-800-480-3287 to request a form.

For PFL, choose one of the following options:

  • Visit Online Forms and Publications and search for the Claim for Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits (DE 2501F).
    • English: You cannot download and print the English version of the DE 2501F directly. But you can request the form online, and we will send it to you in the mail.
    • Spanish: You can download the Spanish version of this form (DE 2501F/S) and print directly.
  • Visit an SDI Office.
  • Ask your doctor's office or employer for a copy of the applications.
  • Call us at 1-877-238-4373 to request a form.

Once you have your paper form, fill it out. If you do not have your own SSN, you should attach a letter and proof of wages (see below for information on what to include in the letter).

How to Answer Question A1

If you do not have an SSN that belongs to you, leave Question A1 blank.

Examples Question A1

DE 2501

Sample of Question A1 of DE2501

DE 2501/F

Sample of Question A1 of DE2501f

How to Answer Question A5

On the DI application, question A5 asks what other SSNs you have used. To answer this question, you can either:

  • Leave this question blank.
  • List the SSN you use to earn wages.

No matter how you choose to answer this question, you should attach a letter and proof of your wages (see below.) As stated above, listing the SSN you use to earn wages will not affect your path to citizenship.

Example Question A5 on DE 2501

Sample of Question A5 of DE2501

How to Answer Question A7 and A9

Both the PFL application (Question A7) and the DI application (Question A9) ask if you have earned wages using another name. If you have, you can list them here.

Examples Questions A7 and A9

Sample of Question A7 of form DE2501

DE 2501 Question A9

Sample of Question A9 of form DE2501

What to Attach to Your Application

Attach the following items to your application:

  • A letter which states:
    • Your preferred language for communicating with us.
    • Any other names you use.
    • All SSNs you have used to earn wages, and an explanation of the wages received. If paid in cash, tell us how much and how often you were paid.
    • If you filed your claim late, an explanation and reason for why you applied late.
  • Proof of your wages.
    • This can be a copy of your current and previous year’s W-2 or pay stubs from the last 18 months. If you were paid in cash, you will need to submit detailed proof of your cash payments (cash deposit statements, Venmo, PayPal, receipts, etc.)
      • Important: Send copies of your documents, not the originals. We will not send back any documents you mail to us.
      • Note: If we can’t verify your wages, you may be denied benefits.
  • Your doctor’s certification. If you are applying for DI or a family member’s serious health condition, your doctor, or your family member’s doctor, needs to fill out their portion of the form or your claim will not be processed. The doctor’s certification can be sent separately, but the claim will be processed faster if it is attached.
    • Note: You do not need a doctor’s certification if you are filing a PFL claim for:
      • Bonding with a newborn, adopted, or foster child.
      • Participating in a qualifying event because of a family member’s military deployment.

Payment Method

You will choose how you receive your benefit payments when you file your claim.

If you are filing without an SSN and have been assigned an EDD Client Number (ECN), you can only receive payment by check. See below for more information on ECNs.

When you’re finished filling out your form and attaching the required documents, mail it to us using the envelope provided. If you need to use a larger envelope, mail it to the same address that shows on the envelope we provided.


Requests for More Information

If we need more information, we may call you. Phone calls from us may show on your caller ID as “St of CA EDD” or as a private number. If you miss the call, we will leave you a voicemail. Follow the instructions on the voicemail and call us back within two days.

If we can’t reach you by phone, we will send you a Notice of Claim Error (DE 2535) in the mail. To respond, choose one of the following options:

  • Mail this notice back to us with a letter including the SSN you used to earn wages or confirm that you do not have earnings connected with an SSN.
  • Call us at 1-800-480-3287 for DI or 1-877-238-4373 for PFL. For a list of dedicated phone lines by language, visit Contact State Disability Insurance.

After we receive your application, we will send you a Notice of Computation (DE 429D) or (DE 429DF). If the SSN you have been using to earn wages has been used by someone else, we will assign you an EDD Client Number (ECN) for you to use going forward.

Important: If your wages on the notice are correct, you do not need to do anything. If your wages on the notice are not correct or say 00 (meaning they are incomplete), you should respond with any supporting wage documentation you have. This may include the following:

  • A letter listing your employers during the last 18 months.
  • A copy of your W-2.
  • Paystubs showing your wages earned during the time period listed on the notice.
  • Your ECN (if we have assigned you one).

Note: Even though this notice states that you can get proof that the SSN is yours from the Social Security Administration, you do not need to do this.

Once we receive your completed claim application, we will determine if you are eligible. This process typically takes 14 days. However, it can take longer if we need to verify your wages under another SSN.

Note: If your claim is incomplete or requires more information, it may take us longer to confirm your eligibility.

If You are Approved for Benefits

If you are eligible for benefits, we will send you an Electronic Benefit Payment Notification (DE 2500E).

If You are Not Approved for Benefits

If you are not approved for benefits, we will send you a Notice of Determination (DE 2517) for DI or a Notice of Determination (DE 2514) for PFL. This form will state why you were not approved for benefits.

We will also send you an Appeal Form (DE 1000A). You have the right to appeal any decision we make by completing the DE 1000A. Submit this form by mail within 30 days of the date your form was issued. Include any missing documents or information that supports your reason for the claim. Mail your appeal form to the return address shown on the notice.

More Information

See the Disability Insurance Pregnancy FAQs for more information including information for seasonal workers and potential pesticide exposure during pregnancy.

Legal Aid at Work Undocumented Workers Guide

Employment Resources

CalJOBS is California’s no cost online self-service job resource. Authorization to work in the US is not required to research your local labor market, job openings, education and training, job fairs, and more. However, to apply for a job or attend an event, you must register online and provide information to verify your authorization to work in the US.

Unemployment Insurance Information

To collect Unemployment Insurance benefits, you must:

  • Have a Social Security Number.
  • Show that you were in satisfactory immigration status and authorized to work in the United States when earning the wages you used to establish your claim.
  • Give proof that you are currently in satisfactory immigration status and authorized to work each week that you claim benefits.

Note: The EDD verifies immigration status and work authorization through the Department of Homeland Security. Purposefully providing false information to the EDD is committing fraud and will be prosecuted. 

Find DI and PFL Information for You

Additional Resources

Can’t find what you are looking for? View these DI and PFL resources for more information.