Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Voluntary Disability Insurance (VDI) FAQ

Main content start

These questions and answers summarize some of the plan’s highlights. For a complete description of your benefits, please refer to the appropriate Plan Summary. If there are any differences between this information and the plan documents, the plan documents will govern.

What is voluntary disability insurance?

The Stanford University Voluntary Disability Insurance (VDI) plan is a non-work-related short-term disability plan. It is designed to replace a portion of your income if you are unable to work for up to a maximum of 52 weeks of total disability.

Who is eligible for the voluntary disability plan?

All employees, including temporary, part-time and salaried postdoctoral candidates, are eligible for coverage under this plan starting on their date of employment. Stanford University students are not eligible for this plan.

As a new employee, am I eligible for VDI benefits?

Yes, but your benefit may be subject to a preexisting condition clause and limited to the California State Disability Insurance weekly minimum benefit rate. This is a California requirement and not a Stanford rule. Please refer to the VDI Statement of Coverage.

Do I have to pay for VDI benefits?

The State of California requires all employees to pay for short-term disability through payroll deductions. In the calendar year 2024, you will pay a total of 0.9%  of your calendar year earnings as your VDI premium.  

When do disability payments start?

Payment for all disabilities will begin after a 7-day waiting period. Exception: The waiting period is waived on the first day of hospital confinement or surgery.

When and how do I start a disability claim?

You should file your claim immediately after your doctor certifies your date of disability or within 60 days from the start of the disability. AbsenceOne is the university’s disability claim administrator. You can start a claim through their secure portal (click on My Leaves through Axess or Cardinal at Work) or by phone (866-566-1906).

When you report your claim, have these materials ready:

  • The reason you are taking a leave
  • The last day you will work, the first day you will be absent from work, and your anticipated date of return
  • Your physician or medical care provider’s contact information

When you open a claim, you can choose your communications preferences—by mail or email—and an initial information packet will be sent to you with important details. To avoid any delays, download and sign the Authorization to Release Information form sent in the packet.

What does voluntary disability pay and how often do I get paid?

In 2024 the VDI Plan pays a weekly disability check equal to the lesser of 60% of your appointment salary (or $1,620 per week) if earning above $28,461 annually. Or, a disability check equal to the lesser of 70% of your appointment salary (or $1,620 per week) if earning below $28,461 annually.

AbsenceOne mails you a weekly VDI benefits payment check (up to a maximum of 52 weeks). If you are on salary continuation you can use Stanford accrued hours to top up your pay. You receive a reduced paycheck from Stanford on the 7th and 22nd of the month.

If you opt out of the VDI Plan in writing and choose the State plan (California SDI), the weekly maximum is $1,620 per week paid by California’s Employment Development Department. (Weekly means each 7-day period of disability.) See

Important: You may not collect VDI and SDI for the same claim unless you have two employers. In that case the claim will be shared by both employers but your maximum benefit will still be $1,620 per week.

What is salary continuation?

Salary continuation is when a staff member wishes to supplement their VDI payment with accrued sick, PTO, floating holiday or vacation hours to bring their pay up to 100% of their full pre-disability salary.

When you decide to use accrued time in the form of salary continuation you will receive more than one check. AbsenceOne will mail your VDI payment weekly. Your salary continuation dollars will come as a Stanford paycheck on the 7th and 22nd of the month, in the same manner you normally receive your pay. SCRP retirement contributions are only based on the salary continuation dollars, not the VDI benefits. You will continue to have any Stanford health and life benefits deducted from your regular (reduced) Stanford paycheck.

How can faculty supplement their salary while on disability leave?

Please contact or your Human Resource Manager for your school to answer your question.

How can academic staff, clinician educators and other teaching positions supplement their salary while on disability leave?

Please contact your Human Resource Manager for your school to answer your question.

Are my disability benefits taxable?

No. Voluntary Disability Insurance benefits are not subject to either federal or state tax.

Can I continue my health and life benefits while on disability leave?

Yes. You may continue all the same benefits while on VDI except the Dependent Day Care flexible spending account. Dependent Day Care flexible spending accounts must be suspended when you are on a VDI leave, but can be reactivated when you return from your leave in the same calendar year. See the Plan Summary and FAQs

regarding flexible spending accounts in the Health section of Cardinal at Work or look in Resources.

How do I pay for benefits while on VDI disability leave?

If you are on a paid leave your contributions will continue to be taken out of your reduced Stanford paycheck.

If you are on an unpaid leave because you have run out of leave accruals (sick time, PTO, floating holiday or vacation) you will be put on leave without salary. When this happens:

  • Direct Billing Services will mail you a coupon book. You send them a check for your benefits on the 7th and 22nd of each month. Or, you can sign up to have payments taken from your bank account.
  • You will continue to receive university contributions for your benefits. Remember since you are not being paid through Stanford you cannot contribute to retirement savings during this time.
  • Moving from a paid leave to an unpaid leave, is a qualified life event that allows you to drop your benefits within 31 days.
  • If you return from leave within the same year, you can logon to My Benefits to reinstate your benefit elections you had prior to the start of your leave of absence or call the University HR Service Team for assistance.
How long can I remain on disability leave?

You can receive a VDI benefit as long as your doctor certifies your disability. The maximum benefit period is 52 weeks of total disability. For more information, we recommend you review the VDI Statement of Coverage in Resources.

If I come back to work after being on disability and need to take leave again, must I file a new claim?

If the diagnosis is the same and you have been back at work for less than 60 days you do not need to file a new claim, but if you have been back to work more than 60 days you need to file a new claim. If you have been out for more than 90 days you may be eligible for long term disability.

Am I eligible for disability if I am a seasonal layoff?

If your disability begins within 15 days of your seasonal layoff date, then you may be eligible for disability. After 15 days you must apply for state disability directly from your local Employment Development Department office. The benefit amount may be different from the Stanford plan. For more information, visit

Does the time on VDI count toward retiree health care eligibility?

Only your first 90 days of VDI count toward your retiree health care eligibility.

Can I reject the VDI plan and join the state SDI plan instead?

You can reject coverage in Stanford’s VDI plan and enroll in California State Disability Insurance (SDI) by completing the VDI Rejection Form and submitting it to Stanford Payroll. SDI coverage will take effect the first day of the next calendar quarter following the date Stanford’s Payroll Department receives your written election. If you choose to opt out of the VDI, you are legally required to participate in SDI. For more information on SDI, visit California’s Employment Development Department website.

You can return to Stanford’s VDI plan as long as you complete the SDI Rejection Form. Your VDI coverage will take effect on the first day of the next calendar quarter following the date Stanford’s Payroll Department receives your written election.

Both rejection forms are available on the Resources section of the Cardinal at Work website.