Unemployment Insurance (UI) in California is an initiative taken up jointly by the state and the federal government. The purpose of this initiative is to provide financial support to California workers who have lost their jobs due to reasons beyond their control.
The government, along with providing financial support, also provides an opportunity for unemployed workers to find training and counseling programs to improve their skill sets. It also provides outlets where a job seeker can connect with a prospective California employer to seek employment opportunities.
Learn more about the services provided by the Employment Development Department (EDD), California unemployment eligibility requirements, and much more.
California UI Benefits Calculator
The California Unemployment Benefits Calculator helps you estimate your UI weekly benefits amount.
Eligibility to Apply for UI Benefits in California
To qualify for unemployment benefits in California, applicants must gain eligibility on three parameters set by the EDD. The three parameters are monetary eligibility, job separation, and maintaining eligibility.
While applying for Unemployment benefits in California, applicants must first meet the monetary eligibility requirements. The applicants must earn a minimum wage during the four-quarter base period. The weekly benefit amount and the maximum benefit amount of the applicant are dependent on the wages earned during the base period.
To be eligible for unemployment benefits in California, an applicant must have earned at least:
$1,300 in the highest earning quarter of your base period, or
$900 in your highest earning quarter, and a total base period earnings of 1.25 times the highest earning quarter
The base period is a 12-month period, which is divided into four quarters. The California Employment Development Department (EDD) has designed two types of base periods to calculate wages to establish a UI claim. They are:
Standard Base Period
Alternate Base Period
A standard base period is the first four of the last five calendar quarters. In this method of calculation, the quarter prior to which you apply for benefits is not considered, but four quarters prior to this is considered.
If you do not have sufficient wages in your standard base period, the EDD will then calculate your wages using the alternative base period. The alternative base period consists of the last four calendar quarters prior to the beginning date of the unemployment claim. The alternative base period can only be considered when the applicant does not have enough wages in his or her standard base period, but has sufficient wages in the alternative base period.
Once the monetary eligibility is established, the step for qualification will be to prove that the applicant lost his job due to no fault of his or her own. The applicants must meet the below-mentioned criteria to meet the job-separation criteria:
The applicant must not lose the job through their fault
The applicant was not involved in any illegal, criminal, or unethical activities in his or her workplace, which resulted in you getting fired
The applicant was fired or work time was decreased due to lack of work
The applicant did not quit the job due to lack of interest
Please note that not all those who are unemployed will be eligible for the unemployment benefit program. The benefits are given to only those who meet all the eligibility criteria set by EDD.
EDD will verify the reason given by the applicant for separating from your previous organization. It will contact your former California employer to verify the reason given by the applicant. If any discrepancies are found, the applicant’s eligibility will be affected. The EDD will conduct a telephonic interview with those who were fired or quit the job on their own to hear the issue on job separation. A notice will be mailed to the applicant if he or she is not eligible for benefits. In the event that the applicant is not happy with the response, he or she can file an appeal against the decision of EDD.
Establishing monetary eligibility and meeting the job separation criteria will get the applicant qualified for the unemployment insurance program in California. However, the applicants are expected to maintain the eligibility factors throughout the benefits weeks. Failing to maintain the eligibility requirement will lead to interruptions in the payment of weekly benefits.
The applicants must take note of the following points to maintain eligibility during the benefits weeks:
Be physically able to work throughout the benefit week period
The applicant must be available to work
Applicant must be ready to accept the work offered to him or her
The applicant must be actively seeking for job opportunities
Applicants must certify for unemployment insurance benefits each week by providing a certificate while applying for benefits. The information on the certificate will show if the applicant has met with all the eligibility criteria during the week.
In the state of California, applying through the online portal is the most convenient mode to apply for benefits. Log in to UI Online to register your unemployment claim. Available times to register for benefits differ on different days, which is listed below:
Sunday – 5:00 AM to 8:30 PM
Monday – 4:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Tuesday-Friday – 2:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Saturday – 2:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Applicants can take advantage of services such as opening a new UI claim, certifying for continued unemployment insurance benefits, updating the address and phone number, and receiving important notifications. Applicants can also view, request and print a copy of form 1099G for up to the past five years.
Applicants can also file claims for the unemployment benefit through a phone call in California. They can call from Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 12 noon, on the following unemployment contact number as per their language choice. View the California unemployment phone number.
Fax or Mail
The applicant can send their application for unemployment benefits through fax or by mail. All they have to do is to download the California Unemployment Insurance Application forms from the Forms and Publications page of the edd.ca.gov website. Fill up the relevant forms and fax it or mail it to the EDD using the address on the forms.
To continue receiving California unemployment insurance benefits, you must certify your eligibility every two weeks. One of your main obligations is to actively search for employment while you collect benefits. To fulfill the work search requirement for unemployment benefits in California, you must demonstrate a good faith effort to seek employment each week when you certify for benefits. This involves applying for jobs, attending job interviews, and undertaking other measures that showcase your dedication to securing employment. If you fail to meet this requirement, your UI benefits may be denied or reduced.
To verify compliance with the work search requirement, you must document your job search activities and provide this information to the Employment Development Department (EDD) as requested. The EDD may also require you to participate in reemployment services such as job training programs or career counseling to enhance your job search skills and hasten your job search. You must also answer a series of questions about being able and willing to work, and to accept any suitable job offer.
After filing your initial unemployment insurance claim, you will receive your first Continued Claim Form in the mail. This must be submitted once two weeks. You file certify online, over the phone, or by mail.
Once the application is filed, the claimant will begin to receive the benefit amount every week. There is a need for the claimants to be aware of all the rules and regulations imposed on them throughout the benefit period. The applicants must also know about the services imparted to the unemployed workers to make the best of the benefit period.
Overpayments and Fraud
Overpayments arise when the applicant receives benefits which he or she was not entitled to. If in case the applicant draws an excessive benefit payment from the EDD, he or she will receive a Notice of Overpayment via mail.
The Notice of Overpayment will contain information on the nature of overpayment that is drawn by the applicant, the amount to be paid back to EDD and penalties levied (if any). It will also contain information on the applicant’s right to appeal against the imposition of overpayment, and about the procedure to appeal.
The EDD has classified overpayments into two categories – Non-Fraud and Fraud.
Non-Fraud: If you received a benefit payment that you aren’t entitled to, but not intentionally, it will be considered as a non-fraud overpayment. In such a case, the applicant will receive a notice stating that he or she received an overpayment and the excessive amount needs to be paid back. However, In some exceptional cases, the applicant may not be asked to repay the excessive amount.
There will be no penalties or interest levied on the applicants in the case of non-fraud overpayment.
Fraud: A fraud overpayment occurs when the applicant intentionally misleads the EDD into paying more benefits than he or she was entitled to. If the applicant withholds an important piece of information, lies about his or her earnings during the base period, gives false or fake documents to prove eligibility, fails to disclose information of wages earned during the benefits weeks and similar misleading tactics are considered as a fraud in the state of California.
If a California unemployment fraud overpayment case is established, the applicant will be expected not only to pay back the excessive amount but also pay a penalty of 30% of the amount of the overpayment. He or she may also face disqualification from anywhere between 5 weeks to 23 weeks.
If the applicant fails to repay the excessive amount along with the stipulated fine amount, the EDD may deduct the money from his or her future weekly unemployment benefits amount, which is referred to as an offset.
As a policy of offset, the EDD may also deduct from or totally withhold the applicant’s state income tax refunds, lottery winnings, or any other source of income owed by the state. The EDD may also file a case against the applicant in a court of law, charge him or her court costs and interest, and record a lien on his or her property.
EDD and the federal government can offer extended unemployment benefits during economic-downturn or when the California unemployment rate is beyond the threshold level. Currently, there are no extended benefits available for California residents. There were a variety of federal extensions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but programs such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are no longer available.
During periods of economic hardship, Congress has the authority to pass special legislation to provide extended unemployment benefits. This program is designed to offer additional benefits to those who have already exhausted their regular UI benefits and do not qualify for any other unemployment insurance claim. Disaster unemployment assistance can temporarily become available when the president of the United States declares an official disaster.
The EDD plays a crucial role in notifying eligible individuals about the availability of federal extended benefits through mail and the media. By keeping individuals informed about the program, the EDD helps ensure that those who qualify for additional benefits receive the assistance they need during these challenging times.
Job Training Assistance
The state of California provides ample opportunities for California workers to improve their skill set to get better employment opportunities. California Training Benefits (CTB) provides opportunities to the applicants to further their education, improve their skill sets, and/or learn a new trade to improve their competitiveness in the job market.
If get approved by CTB, the applicant will be exempted from certain conditions such as to be available for work, to be actively seeking job opportunities, and accept job offers, while you are participating in a training program.
California has over 190 America’s Job Centers located throughout the state. These centers are a group of organizations, including local, state, private, and public entities, that provide employment services at no cost.
The America’s Job Centers of California serve as a network of employment resource centers that assist job seekers by offering various public services. These services include assistance in job searches, career counseling, training programs, and connections to other community resources.
By utilizing the resources available at the America’s Job Center locations, individuals can search for job openings and meet the requirements for unemployment eligibility. These centers aim to assist individuals in finding and keeping employment by providing workforce services and resources, such as workshops for resume writing, job fairs, and access to job listings, labor statistics, and training programs.
The America’s Job Centers network helps promote California’s workforce development and economic growth by connecting job seekers with employment opportunities and resources.
The Unemployment Insurance Benefits are calculated using the applicant’s earnings during a specific 12 month period, or as referred to here as the base period. The base period begins approximately 15-17 months prior to the date the claim is filed. The amount paid each week is calculated based on the calendar quarter with the highest earnings during the base period.
Q. How does vacation pay or holiday pay affect my eligibility to receive unemployment insurance benefits?
Vacation pay or holiday may be deducted from your benefits. It will depend on whether or not you have been given a definite date to return to work at the time you were placed on layoff status: If you are not given a definite date to return to work, any vacation pay or holiday pay paid to you when your job ends is not deducted from your weekly benefit amount.
If you are given a definite date to return to work, any vacation or holiday pay for the period of the temporary layoff is deductible from your benefits. The Department will allocate vacation and holiday pay as follows:
- Vacation pay will be allocated to the number of days you requested vacation or to the number of days your employer required you to use as vacation during the temporary layoff. - Holiday pay that is paid before you return to work will be allocated to the week(s) in which the holiday(s) fall. Holiday pay that is paid after you return to work will be allocated to the week that you return to work.
Q. What is the procedure to file an appeal?
In the event of the cancellation of benefits, overpayments, or penalties, the EDD will mail you a Notice of Determination, DE 1080CZ. The document will contain the reason for the action taken, the duration of the punishment and your right to appeal for the same.
To file an appeal, you will have to fill out form-DE1000m or write a letter to the concerned department. Your letter must contain your name, address, contact details, Social Security number and the reason for filing the appeal.
The concerned department will then review the decision. If the decision is taken as per state law and regulation, the notice will be sent to the Office of Appeals.
The Office of Appeals will send a hearing notice that:
Schedules the hearing
Sends information about the hearing
Advises the claimant where and when to appear for the hearing
An Administrative Law Judge will hear the appeal. After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge mails a decision to all parties. Contact the Office of Appeals at the telephone number listed on the hearing notice if you have any questions.
Q. What do I do if I have problems using a credit card?
If you come across any issues with your credit card, you may find help from the following sources:
For online transactions: Visit the OPC website and select Help for assistance.
For phone transactions: Call OPC at 1-800-487-4567 for assistance.
Q. Can I leave my Continued Claim Form, DE 4581 at any EDD site?
Ans .You may leave your Continued Claim Form DE 4581 at any EDD site, but please note that leaving your DE 4581 at an EDD site will delay your payment. This happens as the form will have to be sent to the appropriate EDD site for payment which will add an additional one to three days to the mailing time. The way would be to mail your DE 4581 using the envelope provided. It is the fastest and easiest way to receive your benefit check.
Q. Why did I receive a Request for Identity Verification, DE 1326C?
DE 1326C will generally be sent because the Department faces the following issues:
The department has been unable to verify your identity using the information you provided when you filed your UI claim. Or
The department received information that your identity may have been compromised
As a result, the department will ask for further identifying documents for verification. Whenever there is a question of correct identity, the Department requires identifying documents to ensure benefits are paid only to those who are legally entitled to receive them. Failure to provide the requested documentation may result in a denial of benefits.
Q. How does severance pay affect my eligibility to receive unemployment insurance benefits?
Severance pay is not deducted from the insurance benefits you receive and, as a result, it does not affect your eligibility to receive benefits. The method of payment, such as a lump sum payment or payments paid to you at regular pay period intervals does not change the nature of the payment. However, it is very important for you to report the severance pay you receive at the time you file your unemployment insurance claim without fail.
Q. Why did I receive a Form 1099G?
The Form 1099G reports the total taxable unemployment compensation that is issued to you from the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) for a calendar year. Your benefits are taxable and reportable on your federal return only, but you do not need to attach a copy of the Form 1099G to your federal income tax return.