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Unemployment Assistance

Frequently asked questions:

* Last updated 5/6/2020

  • What is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program?

    The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is a new benefits program for unemployed individuals through the state of California’s Employment Development Department. This program further extends unemployment benefits to individuals who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, or Paid Family Leave benefits.

    For additional information and updates on this new program, please visit: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

  • Am I eligible for Pandemic Unemployment benefits?

    If you did not qualify for Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, or Paid Family Leave benefits but are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment benefits. In contrast to other EDD unemployment programs, individuals who are business owners, self-employed, or independent contractors are eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment benefits. Individuals that also have run out of benefits through regular Unemployment Insurance are eligible for additional benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Program.

    As with other EDD unemployment programs, you must be a U.S. citizen, or be legally permitted to work in the U.S. In addition, if unemployed and seeking Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, you must meet one of the following requirements:

    • Diagnosis with COVID-19 or seeking medical diagnosis due to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
    • Advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider due to COVID-19
    • Diagnosis of family member with COVID-19 or caring for a family member with COVID-19
    • Caring for a child or other family member who is unable to attend school or another facility due to closure as a result of COVID-19 and you require these facilities to attend work
    • Becoming the major financial support of a household because the head of household died as a result of COVID-19
    • Quit your job due to COVID-19
    • Employer closed and you lost your job due to COVID-19
    • Due to begin a new job that is now unavailable due to COVID-19
    • Unable to reach the place of employment due to COVID-19
    • Work as an independent contractor with reportable income, are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work as COVID-19 has limited work activities
  • How much can I expect to receive in Pandemic Unemployment benefits?

    Payments through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will be issued in the following three phases: 

    Phase 1:

    You will receive $167 per week for each week you were unemployed due to COVID-19  from Feb. 2, 2020 to Mar. 28, 2020.

    Note: These benefits are retroactive depending on your last day of work, regardless of when you submit your claim application. 

    Phase 2:

    You will receive $767 per week for each week  you were unemployed due to COVID-19 from Mar. 29, 2020 to Jul. 25, 2020.

    Note: This amount includes the $600 per week federal benefits from the CARES Act

    Phase 3:

    You will receive $167 per week for each week you were unemployed due to COVID-19  from Jul. 26, 2020 to Dec. 26, 2020.

  • How can I apply for Pandemic Unemployment benefits?

    To apply for Pandemic Unemployment benefits, visit the Employment Development Department link below and follow the instructions to register and file a new claim. Please note that the application for standard Unemployment Insurance benefits and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits use the same form, so continue to file a new UI claim. The EDD will then determine if you meet the criteria for standard Unemployment Insurance or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.

    File an Unemployment claim

  • I have applied for Unemployment Insurance benefits, should I also apply for Pandemic Unemployment benefits?

    It is recommended that you file a new claim application if you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or business owner and have applied for Unemployment Insurance but received a $0 award notice, been asked to confirm your identity, or requested a wage investigation. Please note that it is only recommended to submit a new application if you have not appealed the $0 award as the appeal. The EDD will reassess your new application and determine if you meet the criteria for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.

    If you are currently receiving standard Unemployment Insurance benefits, you cannot claim Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.


  • Am I eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits?

    If you are a California resident that is currently unemployed or employed only part-time through no fault of your own, including losing your job or reduction in hours due to COVID-19, you are likely eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) also lists being physically able, available, willing and actively searching for employment as typical eligibility requirements. For individuals who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and are expected to return to work with their previous employer do not need to actively seek new employment.

    If unemployment insurance benefits are approved, eligible individuals are also required by the EDD to meet these requirements on a weekly basis to continue receiving assistance.

    If you are eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance from the state of California, you are automatically eligible for the additional unemployment benefits (additional $600 per week) provided by the federal government through the CARES Act.

    Full list of EDD Unemployment Insurance requirements

  • How much can I expect to receive in Unemployment Insurance benefits?

    Depending on how much you have earned at your previous place of employment, your weekly benefit amount can range from $40 to $450 through the state of California. An additional $600 per week will also be provided by the federal government as part of the CARES Act. Therefore, if eligible to receive unemployment insurance in California, you can expect to receive between $640 and $1050 per week.

  • What effect does the CARES Act have on normal Unemployment Insurance eligibility?

    Through the CARES Act, benefits for unemployed individuals have been expanded to cover situations in which individuals have been directly impacted by COVID-19. The Employment Development Department of California can assist if you have experienced full or partial loss of wages due to COVID-19 illness, quarantine, or caring for a family member who is ill or quarantined due to COVID-19.

    More information on expanded benefit programs

  • What if I cannot work because I have been directly impacted by COVID-19?

    If you have COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19, or cannot work due to exposure to COVID-19, you can apply for Disability Insurance benefits. Medical certifications are required to submit a Disability Insurance claim, but virtual appointments are allowed for a physical examination. Eligible individuals can expect to receive weekly benefits that range from $50 to $1300 per week depending on previous income.
  • What if I cannot work because I am caring for a family member who is sick or quarantined?

    If you are currently caring for a sick or quarantined family member due to COVID-19, you can apply for Paid Family Leave benefits. As with Disability Insurance benefits, a medical certification is required as proof of family member illness. Eligible individuals can expect to receive weekly benefits that range from $50 to $1300 per week depending on previous income.

  • What if I cannot work because I am caring for a child as a result of school closures?

    If you must care for your children as a result of school closures, you may also be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. However, you must have no other options for childcare and cannot work remotely in order to be eligible for benefits in this circumstance.

  • How do I apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits from the state of California?

    Applications for Unemployment Insurance benefits are submitted to the state of California’s Employment Development Department. If you are eligible to receive these benefits in California, you will automatically be enrolled to receive the additional $600 per week benefits from the federal government.

    You can file for Unemployment Insurance benefits online or by phone for fastest application submission. Fax and mail submissions are also accepted though not recommended at this time.

    File a claim online 

    Note: Claims can be filed online during the following hours:

    • Sunday  5 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    • Monday 4 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Tuesday – Friday 2 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Saturday  2 a.m. – 8 p.m.

    To file a claim by phone, call one of the following phone numbers Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

    • English 1-800-300-5616
    • Spanish 1-800-326-8937
    • Cantonese 1-800-547-3506
    • Mandarin 1-866-303-0706
    • Vietnamese 1-800-547-2058

    TTY 1-800-815-9387

  • Do I need to apply separately to receive Unemployment Insurance from the federal govt.?

    No, you do not need to submit a separate application for Unemployment Insurance if you have already applied through the state of California’s Employment Development Department. If you are eligible to receive these benefits in California, you will automatically be enrolled to receive the additional $600 per week benefits from the federal government.

  • What information do I need to apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits?

    To apply for Unemployment Benefits with the state of California you will need the following information:

    • Information about your last employer including company name, supervisor’s name, address, and phone number
    • Reason you are no longer working with last employer
    • Last date that you worked
    • Total amount earned during your last week of employment
    • Information about all other employers you may have worked for in the past 18 months prior to your claim
    • U.S. citizenship, or if you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need your employment authorization document
    • If you were a former federal employee, you will need a Notice to Federal Employees About Unemployment Insurance, Standard Form 8
    • If you were a former military employee, you will need a DD 214 Member 4 copy
  • When can I expect to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits from the State of California? And, for how long?

    The Employment Development Department of California indicates they are currently receiving a significant increase in filed claims due to the COVID-19 crisis. The EDD has not given an exact estimate of how long it will take for claims to be processed given these circumstances, though the process typically takes a few weeks and may take longer due to the increased claims. For fastest service, the EDD encourages submitting your Unemployment Insurance claim online.

    Once approved for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you are eligible to receive benefits for 39 weeks, which includes the 13-week extension of benefits provided by the CARES Act.

  • What are my options if I work for a small business that is facing difficulties?

    If your hours have already been reduced due to COVID-19, you are eligible to apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits through the State of California. Please refer to the above questions on how to apply for these benefits.

    Your employer might also be eligible for various benefit programs through California’s Employment Development Department or through the federal CARES Act. Programs such as Work Sharing, Rapid Response Services, Paycheck Protection Program, and funding options are available. You can inform your employer of these options which may help them stay in business and provide you with continued employment.

    For additional information about these programs, please visit:

    Coronavirus Relief Options or Coronavirus 2019



Unemployent Assistance References:

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*The College of Business Administration ("CoBA") is providing links to these resources as a public service to students. Reference to any specific resource or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by CoBA. CoBA assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions; the information contained is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.