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California Unemployment Eligibility

An individual who files for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits must meet specific eligibility requirements before benefits can be paid.

Monetary Eligibility

  • The minimum weekly benefit amount is $40 and the maximum weekly benefit amount is $450 depending on the claimant’s quarterly earnings
  • To qualify for the maximum amount each week ($450) an individual must earn at least $11,674.01 in a calendar quarter during the base period

Non Monetary Eligibility

  • Be totally or partially unemployed.
  • Be unemployed through no fault of own
  • Be physically able to work.
  • Be available for work which means to be ready and willing to immediately accept work.
  • Be actively looking for work each week benefits are claimed.
  • Quit work voluntarily
  • Fired for misconduct
  • Be approved for training before training benefits can be paid.

Eligibility Questions

I was fired from my last positing, can I avail unemployment benefits?

In case you were fired for cause, you generally can’t receive jobless benefits in California. The unemployment compensation laws reserve benefits for those who are jobless through no fault of their own. In an effort to implement this regulation, the California Employment Department (EDD) confirms the reason for your job separation with your ex-employer.

If the previous employer can’t provide proof you were fired for cause or you can provide proof you weren’t fired for cause, you may be able to obtain benefits.

How will getting laid off affect my eligibility status?

If you have been laid off from your job in California, you must directly file for unemployment. When you get laid-off, it is not your fault.

Getting laid-off doesn’t mean that you were fired. Getting laid-off doesn’t mean that you did something incorrect. Getting laid-off means that the company that you worked for did not have adequate work for you to do, and could no longer afford to pay you to do your job.

If I quit my job,  will I be eligible?

In California, the Employment Development Department is liable for managing unemployment benefits. California’s jobless workers can obtain unemployment benefits of they were released involuntarily through no fault of their own or jobs for good cause (unsafe working conditions, not being paid, change in job duties, health risks on job, family emergencies).

Employees who willingly end their employment must show they had justified reasons to terminate employment. The California Employment Development Department performs individual investigations to decide whether an individual’s reasons for termination were justified for unemployment benefits.

Want to know more about CA unemployment eligibility requirements.
Use our calculator to determine your benefit amount.
Got questions? Check our Eligibility Q&A section.

  1. If I relocated to California last year (September 2019) for a job opportunity (I’ve been in at for 7 months now) and was recently laid off from due to financial strain of the Coronavirus am I still eligible to receive unemployment? I meet all the specific requirements outlined above but I have not worked in the state for a full 12 months yet (and have been consistently employed for the past 8 years…

    Please let me know!

  2. I’m living in California, and for about 3 months I was unemployed due to my job being removed and me getting laid off as a result, and 2 and 1/2 ish months on UI…Kinda; blame my ignorance for why it took me a while to figure out how to apply properly**. Keep the ignorance aspect in mind; it’s important later**. I did what I was supposed to during that time and applied for jobs while collecting the UI benefits.

    Now about 1 1/2 weeks ago I got a job due to my relatives telling a friend who owns a company about me, and getting me an interview. They said they would have me for a trial/probation period of 2 weeks before deciding if they’d have me as a full employee. The contract I signed made it clear that this was an At Will relationship, with me as an individual contractor for a salary per hour (the amount was slightly higher than what I made in the job I got laid off from). The form I filled out was a W-9 Form.

    Now I worked there for the next 1 1/2 weeks, but was recently informed by the head of the company that my job was over (though the way it was framed confused me, but more on that later). I’ve spent about 8 days at that job, and am now returning to unemployment.

    Now here’s where things get…complicated and confusing for me.

    The thing is, I never informed the EDD (and Medi-Cal yet, though that’s a different matter) about this job. I received the usual “Certify for Benefits” email only 3 days before I was let go from this job. I should note that I DIDN’T take any benefits because by this point I had spent about a week at the job, so I was paranoid that I would be potentially committing fraud if I took the money while working. I also in general just had an incredibly hard time contacting the EDD via their customer service and the hours were not favorable to go there physically, especially this early in the job.

    The other reason is that because of my ignorance, I didn’t actually know HOW to fill out the Benefits form regarding my new job, because it was only showing for a W-2 Form as opposed to a W-9 Form. It’s possible I might have missed some really obvious detail, but my uncertainty meant that as of today, I still haven’t certified or informed the EDD regarding this.

    So here’s the thing:

    How exactly should I go about dealing with all of this? Medi-Cal I can contact relatively easily enough, but with how hard it is to contact the EDD, I’m extremely stuck on how to approach the situation. Additionally, my ignorance and the fact that I tend to have a really hard time understanding the rules and guidelines because my mind tends to misunderstand and confuse aspects if they aren’t extremely specific means that even reading and researching myself is unreliable at best.

    That said, What should I do in regards to Medi-Cal, given that I got about 900 dollars (14 dollars per hour, 40 hour approx. work week) total from this job in gross wages?

    How do I explain all of this on my Certify For Benefits? As it stands, the week before starting my job was me just searching for a job as usual, but how do I put down the information for the time I was on the job for the week? I checked the certification and I didn’t see anything for w-9. Also should note that since the certification was literally 3 days before my job ended, I have no idea how to answer that I don’t have the job anymore or if I should say that I’m working full time or not.

    Given the above, how does this all affect my current unemployment benefits? Will I be disqualified because I took a job and then the job ended with the employer ending the project and me not getting any new ones? Given how it’s been placed down as contract work, will I not be able to keep getting unemployment benefits? Will I need to re-enroll or something?

    Does this count as me being fired/discharged?

    I’ve asked the relatives about this issue, and one of them is suggesting having the pay sent to them and then they transfer to me. I feel like this is an incredibly bad idea that doesn’t solve the core issue and just makes things more complicated for me, but I lack the knowledge to know for certain. I’ve been trying to read up on unemployment and benefit laws, but I don’t understand them well enough to figure out how it applies to my situation.

    Does the way things turned out mean I’ve committed fraud?

    I’d like to have someone who’s very familiar with Unemployment Benefits to help out here, because I’m extremely uncertain how to proceed.

    If there’s any details I missed or didn’t explain very well, please let me know. Also explaining in bullet points/number list format will make it easier for me to figure out which questions are being answered, though a thorough answer in general helps.

    ADDENDUM: I should note that I’ve had someone tell me to tell the EDD about this after I get a phone interview with them to get my wages reclassified to a W-2 because according to certain articles, I don’t actually count as a contractor but an employee because I didn’t have any control over my hours, the employer supplied me with the supplies needed to do the work, and i used their equipment and facilities, and the job i was working with was typical for the company.

    But I have a conundrum; If I get that sort of scenario, it will negatively affect the head of the company, who has a good relationship with my relatives, which could negatively affect our relationship as a whole. But at the same time, if I don’t have it reclassified, I will likely suffer for it in regards to my Unemployment Benefits because the job might be counted as independent contractor work. I just don’t have any idea what to do and I feel completely stressed and stuck.

  3. My company that I worked for over 2 years as direct deposit, recently changed my status to 10-99. Its been one month and I will receive my first 10-99 payment on 11/22. They informed me that I would be laid off on 11/18 but have asked me to stay on board until the team is fully transitioned – time line not established yet. Will I be eligible for unemployment since it was accounted for on all my paychecks for the last 2 years.

  4. My current manager and I have decided that after 5 months of employment we are not a good fit for each other. I’d like to stay with the company but there are currently no other open positions that meet my qualifications. My manager is suggesting I seek other employment while fulfilling my current duties which I believe will not be conducive to a healthy work environment. After our discussion on Friday I believe she expected me to quit. If I quit will I be eligible for unemployment benefits?

    • Charlene,

      It depends. If your exit is treated as “voluntary”, you may not qualify. Please take assurance from your employer they will not contest at the time of processing the unemployment application.

  5. I have a family member who was recently on CA UI. She went back to work this past monday and she immediately realised that the job was not right for her. Is there a “grace” period, or whatever it might be called, in CA UI where the employee goes back to work and then quits within the first week, but can return to UI to look for a better employment situation?

  6. My job will only allow me to work until I turn 57 years old. Because of my age, my agency has to let me go. Can I file unemployment then?

    • You can also file a lawsuit if you are in the U.S. You are considered part of the protected class and cannot be terminated due to age.

    • I am not sure if you can claim on the said grounds. Please go ahead and call the Unemployment Office to confirm.

  7. I was out of USA and moved back home to Los Angeles and looking for job, am I eligible for unemployment while I am searching?

    • Fatima,

      It depends if your previous employer paid Unemployment Taxes into the system. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification before applying.

  8. My husband and I are currently over seas because of the Navy. I have a full time job but we have new orders and are moving back to my home state CA. I am having to quit because of him leaving and I will not be able to have a visa without his presence. Can I file for unemployment? I will be working until the day I leave.

    • Ariel,

      As a military spouse, you should be able to claim UI benefits when you move. Please contact the Unemployment Office in CA for more.

  9. My employer goes on hiatus for the holidays. One week for Thanksgiving and two weeks for Christmas. I need the work that week to make money but they do not offer it nor do they pay for that time forced off. Can I reopen a claim in CA for the week(s) forced off? I am eligible to be paid unemployment due to this lack of work?

    • Jessica,

      You can be eligible under such circumstances. Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for clarification.

  10. Hello,
    I worked at my current organization in New York for 2.5 years and I am getting laid off. I am planning to relocate to CA where I lived up until 6 years ago. Will I be able to collect unemployment in CA?

  11. I was working shortened hours (32 rather than 40 per week) for my company while they were participating in a work sharing plan administered by the California EDD. I was paid $90 dollars for each of the first two weeks of 2017 to cover the 20% reduction in hours. After the second week I left my employment at full retirement age of 66 to begin retirement under Social Security. Now, more than a year later the EDD is demanding that I pay the $180 back as they say I was not eligible due to “quitting my job without good cause”. I don’t understand this since I was working during the weeks I was eligible for participation in the work sharing. Is it more the matter of being paid for the month of January 2017 by Social Security? I have read that Social Security earnings do not matter in some states but may in others. I really did not consider retiring after 31+ years as “quitting my job”. I see it more as a reward for years of good service. My mistake I guess. Any advice on whether this is appealable or should I just pay it back?

    • Travis,

      Our expertise is limited to Unemployment Insurance and related matters. I suggest you contact the Labor authorities in your state for further advice.

  12. My husband worked for a small start up company, he got got told today, 2/22/18, that he wasn’t a fit for the company, meaning not enough to do for what they hired him for, they said they would have to let him go or he could choose to resign, he chose to resign, is he eligible for unemployment, we are in California

    • Tracy,

      Unemployment Insurance benefits are only extended to claimants who’re out of work due to no fault of theirs.

  13. My company just did a mass reorganization and I was affected by it. My termination date is 12/13/17. When should I apply for Unemployment? On that day or 1/1/18?

  14. My husband is expanding his business out of State which will require us to move and I will have to leave my employment. Will I be eligible to receive unemployment until I find a new job where we move?

    • Tricia,

      You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  15. I was honorable discharged from the navy 2yrs ago and I claimed unemployment then, I then went to school and wasn’t working and now I’m out of school and I still have no job, can I fil for unemployment still?

    • Geoffrey,

      I am not sure if you can be eligible for attending school full-time. Please call the Unemployment Office for details.

  16. the company I worked for over 30 years is merging with another company 34 miles away from my house if I quit due to the distance will I be eligiable to collect unemployment

    • I am guessing you should be able to. To confirm, please call the Unemployment Office and decide on your employment accordingly.

  17. The company I manage was bought out. The new owner wants me to take a demotion and pay cut. After being laid off for the transition, if I don’t take the demotion am I eligible for EDF

    • You can be. I suggest that you speak the Unemployment Office in your state before making a decision on your employment.

  18. I work in California jam a full time employee been there about 4 years
    My boss says there is no work for me and he would let me know if something comes up
    Can I file for unemployment?

  19. I have worked 3 days a week as FLSA exempt for 10 years. My boss is reclassify me as non-exempt and cutting my pay over 50% per hour. I am 73 years old and hold 2 work related diplomas. I am most senior employee and most elderly. Reason for pay cut is wage compression. Will I be eligible?

    • You can be eligible to claim for a reduction in the hours worked. Please call the Unemployment Office for further details.

  20. My boss cut my hours as of the next work day by half (full time to 4 hours a day). She also demoted me from human resources recruiter to lunch period phone coverage. She gave my job duties to a woman half my age. And all this has come after she failed to pay me on time last pay check. And she has begun selecting what days I’ll be paid for on which pay check (some checks are for 10 work days, some are for 7 days, some some for 11 days…). In comparing the checks to actual hours worked, the pay is correct, but I’m never sure how much my 2 week pay check will have. Also, earlier this week (3 days prior to my demotion) she harassed me for responding and attending to a Superior Court Jury Service Summons. She actually told me I should do what she does and just ignore it. Can I quit for good cause and recieve unemployment compensation while I find a more stable source of income?

    • Though quitting voluntarily does not generally qualify, there can be exceptions like yours.

      I suggest that you call the Unemployment Office in your state to confirm eligibility before making a decision to quit.

  21. If I quit my job because I am moving to a different state due to a recent divorce, will I qualify for unemployment benefits until I find a new job in the new state?

    • You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  22. If I get released from my present job after 38 years with no fault of my own and recieve severance package how would this effect my UI?

    • Please wait until the severance payout ends. You can apply towards the end of it.

      If it’s a lump sum payment, you can apply immediately.

  23. If I take IRA funds out to pay off credit cards will that affect income requirements and reduce benefit payments?

  24. I was layed off from my job in Nov 2014. I received UI benefits for 26 weeks (beginning Nov 2014). Filed an extension request after the 26 weeks ran out, which was denied, and was told to file a new claim in November 2015. I have had no employment since I was layed off. Will I receive new UI benefits beginning in Nov 2015? Assuming I do not find employment before then?

    • Not sure if you can file a new claim every year since UI benefits are not revolving in nature. Please check further with the labor authorities in your state.

  25. i started my first job in the usa working at a farm on dec 27 2013. on friday dec 12 2014 i was laid off by my employer because of lack of work. my question is, am i still elegible for unemployment benefits even if it hasnt been a full year of me working.

    • I am not sure if you will be eligible.

      They generally consider 4 of the last 5 calender quarters to determine eligibility.You don’t seem to have enough employment to meet this qualifier.
      Please check with the customer service of the labor dept in your state.

  26. I’m in California and I may be laid off this month. I’ve worked for the company since November 2013. I feel like I understand the calculations. What I haven’t seen an answer for and am not sure if it applies is:

    Would I have had to be employed for ALL FOUR of the quarters to receive benefits? I was only employed full time for two of the quarters (Oct-Dec 2013 & Jan-Mar 2014)

    I was employed April – June part time but quit because we were moving to a new city and I’m not sure if I can even include that.


  27. I was laid off a week ago. I don’t know where to turn. In need of health insurance as well as I am diabetic and depend on insulin.
    La Habra CA

    • Please consider applying for UI benefits in your state if you became unemployed due to no fault of your own.

      Remember,you must be willing to accept any suitable job offer that comes your way.

  28. I work for an exclusive hotel in san diego as an elevator operator. The elevator broke down five days ago. They agreed to pay me for the first day as I was at my workplace. I was scheduled to work the last five days but they haven’t fixed the elevator and aren’t paying me. Can I receive Unemployment Insurance for days I’m scheduled to work?

    • Ideally,you must be on rolls of your employer and meet other criteria prescribed.

      Please check with the labor dept in your state.

  29. i officially started working for a car company om 12/10/13. the company closed, i lost my job due to them closing > last day was 3/4/14. do i qualify for benefits?

    • I have been working as a hair styelest fulltime at the same shop in Dana Point CA. for many years. The shop may close in the near future, and I may be laid off. I am 69 years old and also draw Social Security Ins. If I am laid off, will I be eligible to draw CA unemployment insurance? If so, How much for how long? Thank You

      • Please check with your employer if they pay relevant taxes in your state that contribute towards UI funds.

        “How much” and “How Long” purely depends on various aspects of your paperwork.You’re also drawing Social security benefits.In case you’re laid off, you may consider applying for UI benefits.

  30. I was hired for a temp job; only three months. As a temp i don’t get any benefits and no paid time off. I was offered to extend my postion for the rest of the year. But I have no assurance of being hired on as a permanent employee. If I don’t accept this offer do I loose my chance at unemployment benefits?

  31. A car heading in opposite direction turned left in heavy fog in front of my son and they collided. My son was driving a company vehicle. The company has zero tolerance policy on automobile accidents and he was fired. Is he eligible for unemployment insurance?

    • UI is extended to those citizens who become unemployed due to no fault of their own.Please ask your son to consider applying for UI. His last employer may contest the claim.

  32. I have worked last 9 months of past 18 months. Got unemployed due to ending the contract. Can I collect unemployment insurance in California?

  33. i have worked in Kosovo for nearly four years. I was hired and have apt in California. I got laid off and I am returning to California. Can I file for unemployment in California. I was paid by company in Virginia and international organization.

    • You could start with the California unemployment office to find out what wages have been reported for you. Do they seem accurate? If not, you may have to submit pay stubs. They are interested in the first 4 quarters of the last 5 COMPLETED quarters.

  34. I live in New Hampshire and was employed by a company in San Diego, California as the sales manager for the United States. On September 6th my employment was terminated. Do I file for unemployment with the state of New Hampshire or California?

  35. My husband is active duty military and got orders to move to Texas. I’ve been working in California for 8 months. Am I eligible for unemployment due to a military move? Which state would I file with? And do I need to work a certain amount of time in California?

    • This is not the unemployment office – this is a public office – please do not post personal information. If you are able to work at something you may qualify.

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