Have you recently lost your job? Did you get laid-off, were you fired, or did you quit? Anyone who applies for California unemployment benefits has to qualify based on a very specific eligibility criteria:
- You must have earned enough income (wages as an employee) in the base period to qualify you for unemployment.
- You have to be either completely or partially unemployed.
- Must have lost your job through no fault of your own.
- You must be physically capable of working.
- You have to be willing and available to accept a job.
- You have to be looking for work; actively searching for a job.
- Be eligible to collect benefits each week that you file for them.
- Before you get training benefits, you must be approved for them.
When should you file your claim?
The start date of your UI claim is determined by the date on which you contact EDD for the first time. This date will establish the dates of your base period, which will determine the amount of your weekly benefit. The base period is a period of wages totaling one year, split into four quarters. You should figure out how much you made in each of the quarters that make up your base period to figure out the best time to file your claim. You have to call EDD and fill out a UI application and open claim before you will get an unemployment check or other unemployment benefits – they are not automatic.
Filing Your Claim – What You Need
In order to file your claim, you have to be without a job (this can be for any reason) or be working at a job for less than full-time hours when you make your application. When you apply, you will be asked a series of different questions, some of which will be regarding your last job. You’ll also be asked personal questions for ID and demographics and statistics, like birthdate and educational level. Be sure to be as complete and correct in your answers as possible when filling out your application.
When you file your claim, have all of this info ready
- Your full name.
- Your social security number (SSN).
- Your mailing address(and the address of where you live, if these addresses are different).
- Your phone number (if you only have a mobile number – this will work).
- Information about your last job and employer (no matter how long you worked there) :
- Company name
- Mailing address
- Physical address
- Phone number
- This same info about each of your jobs and employers that you had in the 18 months period before to applying for UI.
- The date that you last worked.
- The reason you lost your job.
- How much money you made the last week that you worked.
- Driver’s license or government issued ID card.
- Citizenship status and your alien registration number, if applicable.
How To Apply For CA Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits?
Watch this Video on How to File for California EDD Unemployment Benefits
|If you file in||Your base period is the previous 1 year, which ends on the final day of:|
- Effective Date – this is the date on which you file your UI claim with EDD.
- Benefit Table – this is the table that EDD uses to calculate your weekly benefit amount.
- Weekly Benefit Amount – this is how much you’ll receive every week.
- Calendar Quarter – three month period.
- Base Period – One year period of wages that is used to set your Weekly Benefit Amount.
How to Apply by Phone
If you want to apply for unemployment benefits over the phone, call EDD and one of the knowledgeable UI counselors will help guide you through the process. EDD phone lines are under heavy call volume, so you should be prepared to wait for a long time to talk to someone, or you could get busy signals over and over, so you should also be prepared to keep calling.
Weekly Earnings Reporting Requirement
If you actually work in a week in which you apply for UI benefits, you must also report how much you made that week. As far as EDD is concerned, the week starts on Sunday and ends on the very next Saturday. In order to report earnings or wages that you made in the week that you’re applying, make sure that you list any money you earned starting on the most recent Sunday up to the day that you file.
Can You Cancel Your Unemployment Claim?
Yes. You are able to cancel your UI claim in the 30 day period following the date that EDD mailed the Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award. You can only cancel a claim within this 30 day period if you have not cashed or deposited an unemployment check or haven’t been given notice that you’ve been disqualified.
Important: Don’t give false information or lie on your UI application. You can receive harsh penalties for giving false information or witholding pertinent information on your unemployment application to EDD.
Here’s an example that illustrates how this works: you file your claim on Wednesday, so you should report any money that you earned from Sunday up to Wednesday. You must report any and all income that you make during the time that you’re filing a certification for and getting unemployment payments and any other UI benefits. In addition, you have to report travel expenses, meals or reimbursement for business meals, or any other money you are paid when working. If you still have questions about your weekly certification, what you should report, or unclear on something, you should call the EDD office and speak to a counselor to get your questions answered.
Important Claim Documents
Once you’ve completed your application and EDD has processed it, you will be sent the following forms and documents (you should get them in about 10 days):
Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award, DE 429Z.
This letter tells you what your weekly benefit amount is as well as the maximum benfit amount you can receive, which are determined by the wage amounts that your employer(s) report to EDD. You should go over this letter very carefully to make sure it is correct and should call the EDD office if find any inaccuracies. This letter will also explain what you have to do to fulfill your work search requirements.
Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claim Filed, DE 1101CLMT.
This letter includes all of the details and info you gave EDD when you filled out your claim application. Unless you contact EDD within 10 days from the date that EDD mailed this form to give correct information or add details that are missing, then EDD will consider this information to be correct and complete.
Guide to Benefits and Employment Services, DE 1275A.
This guide spells out all of the rights and responsibilities that you have while you are receiving benefits in the Unemployment Insurance Program. Make sure that you read it a all, and understand what is says because you are required to know what’s in it, and abide by the rules in it.
Continued Claim Form, DE 4581.
This is the form that you’ll use ever week to claim your weekly benefits. The DE 1275A Guide described above includes detailed instructions on how to properly fill out this form. The official benefit week starts on Sunday and then ends Saturday at midnight. You have to answer every question on the form for every week that you certify your claim, then sign it. You have to mail this form to EDD on the date listed on the front of the form. Be sure that you report any money that you made for the weeks listed on the form, and are careful to list the right start and end dates.
How to Complete the Continued Claim DE 4581 Form Video
Before you will actually receive your first unemployment check you will have to wait for one week, which is called the “waiting period” or the “waiting week”. In this first week of unemployment, you will be on the program, and have to abide by all of the rules, as well as fill out the weekly claim form to certify – but you will not receive an unemployment check for that first week.
Disqualifications or Overpayments
In the event that you have had an overpayment or disqualification from a previous UI claim, the overpayment or disqualification might come back to haunt you and be applied to your current claim. If you’ve ever received a disqualification or overpayment notice you should find it and read it to see how it will affect your new claim.
Pensions & Retirement
Some retirement and pension payments will reduce the amount of your weekly unembployment benefit. If you get any pension or retirement, with the exception of a Railroad Retirement, Social Security, or a retirement or pension that comes from someone else’s income or job, you might be required to pay back certain unemployment benefits that you get, if those retirement or pension payments are received at the same time as the unemployment check. EDD may conduct a determination interview in order to figure out if your retirement or pension will affect your unemployment benefits.
If there is any doubt or questions about whether you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits, EDD will schedule an eligibility determination interview, to be conducted over the phone. EDD will send you a letter notifying you of this called the “Telephone Interview Notification and Instructions”, which will tell you the time and date that someone from EDD will call you for your interview. The letter will also tell you the reason for the eligibility interview, what you’ll be discussing, as well as give you an idea of the questions you might get asked. The EDD rep will call you at the time listed in the letter, and they’ll ask you questions for the purpose of determining whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits. If you were fired from your previous job, or if you quit your job, someone at EDD may also contact someone at your most recent job with some questions as well.
EDD also offers job training and career development assistance through the California Training Benefits program, which allows UI claimants to get job training at the same time that they’re collecting unemployment benefits. There are other training programs that you might qualify for, but you have to contact EDD about them before:
- you receive 16 weeks of unemployment benefits, or
- your UI benefits run out and your claim was shorter than 16 weeks
Work Search Requirement
In order to collect unemployment benefits you must actively be searching for a job every week that you file your weekly certification. EDD defines actively searching for a job as filling out applications or sending resumes to companies and employers who have jobs and positions available in your line of work. If you don’t look for work during a week that you certify your claim and collect unemployment, your ongoing eligibility to collect unemployment could be affected and you lose your benefits. EDD suggests that anyone collecting unemployment should keep a detailed log of all of your job search attempts, or a work search log, which should include the following information for each job search contact:
- Company or employer contacted.
- Contact method – application, resume, interview?
- Address and phone number of employer contacted
- Date and time of contact
Job Search Registration
To receive unemployment you have to register for CA’s Job Search assistance site called CalJOBS in the first 21 days of your claim. You might also have to fill out a job search survey and go to several different job search assistance interviews or seminars. If you don’t register for CalJOBS or if you do not go to the assigned job search interviews or workshops, you risk being disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
You can register for CalJOBS and the other work search assistance programs at your local Workforce Services Office.
Automated Phone System
California EDD offers an automated electronic phone service that is accessible 24/7 for unemployment information, general questions, finding a Job Service office or phone number.
Additional Information & Tips
Sometimes EDD has to confirm some of the details that you give them when you apply for unemployment, and if so, you’ll get some extra forms in your mail and you’ll have to fill them out and give them some extra information.
Filling Out the Application
Follow these instructions if you’re applying for unemployment using the paper form, DE 1101I:
- You’re able to complete the form on-line and print it out, or print a blank form out and fill it out with a pen. When you’ve filled it out and reviewed it for accuracy, you can mail or fax it to the EDD to be processed.
Follow these instructions if you are applying for unemployment online using the eApply4UI system:
- If you need additional help, refer to EDD’s ‘Instructions For Internet Form Entry’.
- When you do the UI Application you might be requested to enter some dates. You can use any of these different ways to format the dates that you give (M = month, D = day of month, Y = year):
- If you input your dates in any other format you’ll get an error.
- Don’t use the Backspace key on your computer’s keyboard when inputting your repsonses on the eApply4UI page.
- No matter whether you are applying online with eApply4UI or applying via mail using the form DE 1101I to file for unemployment, you should know that it will take up to 10 days to process your application.
Unemployment Office Contact Information
- Disability Insurance: (TTY) 1-800-563-2441
- Employment Tax: (TTY) 1-800-547-9565
- Unemployment Insurance (TTY) 1-800-815-9387
- Payroll Tax Assistance – 1-888-745-3886
If you have comments, suggestions, or complaints please forward them to: Employment Development Department 800 Capitol Mall, MIC 83 Sacramento, CA 95814
- DE 429Z – Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award.
- DE 1101CLMT – Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claim Filed.
- DE 1275A – Guide to Benefits and Employment Services.
- DE 4581 – Continued Claim Form.
- DE 1101I – UI Application (paper application).