A Detailed Guide To Unemployment Benefits In California

Californians who have lost their job or had their work hours reduced due to the direct result of the pandemic can collect Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. According to the reports of California Employment Development Department (EDD), the authorities have processed about 6.7 claims and paid about $33.5 billion in unemployment benefits in California since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

Unemployment Benefits In California And The CARES Act

Generally, the regular unemployment benefits in California last for 26 weeks, but Californians can receive payment for an additional 13 weeks under the CARES Act. The Act also provides benefits to the otherwise ineligible self-employed, gig workers, freelancers, or independent contractors. 

Extended Unemployment Benefits In California

The Employment Development Department is looking to provide a separate extension of traditional unemployment benefits. The program would be the Federal-State Extended Duration benefits program and will be known as the FED-ED program. It would provide benefits for at least an additional 13 weeks. 



Under this program, benefits will be provided to Californians who are struggling to go back to their job and have a prolonged duration of unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Who Qualifies For FED-ED Program?

To receive benefits under the FED-ED program, Californians should meet certain eligibility criteria. Some of them include:

  • Should exhaust benefits received under the regular Unemployment Insurance program
  • Must run out of benefits received under the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program
  • Should be capable, available, and actively seeking to take up any job
  • Should submit work search documents

More details about this program are expected to be out in a couple of weeks.

Can You Collect Unemployment Benefits If You Return To Your Work?

As businesses begin to reopen, some employers may require their employees to return to work. If you return to full-time employment, you cannot collect unemployment benefits. But if the work hours are reduced, or you are furloughed again, you can apply for UI benefits. 

To apply for benefits, you should certify the number of hours worked each week and report income in the week in which it was earned. All these details must be reported on a bi-weekly certification form. If approved, you can collect payment for up to 26 weeks.

Note that the amount earned will be deducted from unemployment benefits. For instance, if you earned $200 in a week. The EDD may not count $50 and may deduct $150 from your regular unemployment insurance. So if you are expected to receive a $430 payment for that week, after deductions, you may get $280. 

The same rule applies to the self-employed, independent contractors, or gig workers. The only difference is that they have to apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and not regular unemployment benefits.

Filing For Unemployment Benefits In California

You can apply for unemployment benefits in California  either online,  by fax or mail, or the phone. To file online, visit the EDD website, log in to your account if you have one, and enter details asked for. If you don’t have an account, first register and then log in. 

To file by fax or mail, access the paper unemployment application on the EDD website and mail it to the mailing address mentioned on the form. You can also call representatives at the toll-free number mentioned in the EDD website and file a claim. 

What Happens After Filing An Unemployment Claim?

If you are a recent online applicant, you will receive a mail from the EDD confirming your registration. But if you haven’t filed unemployment for many years, you may not receive a mail, but a letter with an EDD Customer Account Number using which you can complete the set-up of the EDD unemployment claims account and file weekly claims. 

Final word

Due to the surge in unemployment applications, the EDD may sometimes take time to process your application. Therefore, don’t panic if you haven’t received any mail from the EDD. Stay patient while the authorities process your form. For more details, you can always contact authorities at the EDD. 

 



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  1. I receive a small pension from a company I retired from. I went back to work parttime for three years after retiring. I was furloughed due to COVID-19. My furlough letter says that I can collect unemployment. Unemployment (Illinois) is now denying me since I collect a pension. I this accurate.

    • Carol,

      Please ascertain on what basis they’re denying and consider filing an “Appeal” if you feel you were denied wrongfully.

  2. The current PUA website has no option to appeal! And I have tried to appeal on the original CDLE website however it won’t allow me to as I am not a claimant on original unemployment. I am supposed to appeal by Aug 3rd. And I cannot reach anyone by phone to help me. The PUA phone line is a private company that can only assist with basic tasks and request a call back for you from the actual unemployment office which could be up to a month before I recieve a call back, hopefully I dont miss that impoortant phone call! And it would be after my appeal deadline,
    so what am I to do?

    • Amber,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

  3. Daughter worked in Wisconsin, left for Illinois when her job (all jobs) evaporated due to COVID. It was not a formal lay-off, the hours just disappeared to “don’t come in, we are closing.” It took a month to get through to WI unemployment staff. She learned the only way to receive UI benefits would be to commit to the job searches in Wisconsin. Since she had moved that was not possible, therefore she was not eligible. Do many states require the same? Is the only solution to start transferring benefits to the new state? Is this still possible given the UI processing backlog in every state?

  4. i filed my PUA claim 7/4/2020 but have been unemployed since mach 16th 2020 i got through to a call center over the weekend and this lady said she put in a request for back payment and mentioned i should see that update when i login under my correspondences but i dont see anything at all also my claims have all been still pending with a issue of identification and is at the level of adjudication now ive been steadily calling and just keep being pushed off the line due to high call volumes i have been trying to find a phone number to the adjudication of PUA and im coming up with nothing but the same call center in which keeps hanging up, i have already uploaded my license my birth certificate AND my social security card i just want to get in contact with this department so they can open and review my file in order for me to recieve payments i have already received my relia card in the mail and this is the last process in which needs completed in order to receive any payment any help would be greatly appreciated if i could be provided even just and extension to the correct people in which i need to speak to that would be great..

    • Scott,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

      • I’ve emailed fact.finding information. I needed to show documents to prove I didn’t receive any severance pay. How long will it take to get a response?

        • Taquel,

          We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. There will be an intermittent delay.

  5. i was told to earn 2000.00 in earnings to get my azui payment .canot find work because of covid 19 what can i do

  6. I was wondering if I qualify for the 600 dollars a week for the Corona virus I was unemployed from March 23 til May 06. The reason that I was unemployed is because is my son is a paraplegic. I think I have been doing something wrong with my weekly certifications. I would appreciate any help I could get.

    • Melissa,

      I suggest you ascertain eligibility by reading the T&C for claiming PUC and UI benefits in general on the Unemployment Office’s website.

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