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How does california unemployment insurance work

how does california unemployment insurance work


Before you can apply for unemployment in California, you have to determine whether or not you are eligible. The requirements are similar to most other states and include:

  • You must be able and willing to work
  • You must be actively seeking new employment
  • You cannot be working full time
  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own
  • You have to meet the minimum wage requirements during your base period to establish a claim*

The base period refers to a particular 12 month period of employment.

One area of eligibility that some filers are often confused by is the reason for unemployment. California requires that your unemployment is through no fault of your own. This usually includes being laid off, having your hours cut because of lack of available work, or if the company you were working for has gone out of business. Unemployment benefits are not to be used if you were hurt on the job. You must talk to your employer about workers compensation if you are unable to work due to work related accidents.

If you have been fired or quit your job, you will be scheduled for a phone interview in order to determine if you are eligible for benefits. If you simply quit your job because you did not like the job, you will not be able to qualify for unemployment. Also, if you were fired for misconduct you may be ineligible for benefits as well.

These are the basic requirements in order to qualify for initial unemployment benefits. In order to receive continuous benefits you must apply weekly and meet the requirements every week that you file for unemployment.

How to Apply

Applying for unemployment insurance in California is actually easier than you may think. The state makes the process very simple and convenient with the help of the internet.

First and foremost, you should watch the following video created by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). This is the department responsible for handling unemployment in the state of California. The video provides great information on filing and will be very helpful for you to get started.

You can apply online on the EDD site here:

Alternatively, you may also apply over the phone. One great advantage of the EDD is that they cater to the multicultural makeup of the state so they have separate phone numbers for English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese speakers. The numbers can be found below.

English: 1-800-300-5616

Spanish: 1-800-326-8937

Chinese: 1-800-547-3506

Vietnamese: 1-800-547-2058

You will need some information when you apply. It is best to have this ready before you apply. The Basic information you will need is:

  • Personal info: Name, phone number, SSN, address, and Driver’s License number
  • The dates that you worked for your last employer and their information (name, phone number, address)
  • Reason you are no longer working for you last employer
  • Information for every employer you worked for in the past 18 months (name, phone number, address)
  • Reason you are no longer working for you last employer

During the actual application process you will be asked

questions in order to determine whether or not you are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Payments

If you have been approved for California unemployment benefits, the next step will be to receive your payments. The amount that you receive will be dependent on your past wages. However, the minimum amount of weekly benefits California will pay is $40 and the maximum amount is $450. You can use the following document for more information on how unemployment benefits are calculated:

In order to speed up the payment process and make things simpler for both the EDD and claimants, in 2011 California began depositing payments into individually assigned EDD debit cards. This has substantially improved the speed in which payments are made and citizens have been very happy with the change. In order to activate your card, you can do so online at or call


If you wish to have your payments deposited into your personal bank account, you can do so by contacting Bank of America and having funds transferred into your account. You can use the contact information above to do this. The EDD does not handle direct deposit transfers.

Certifying Benefits

In order to receive your benefits each week you must certify each week. In other words, you will have to apply each week with proof that you still meet the requirements and are actively seeking work.

You can now certify online with the EDD Web-Cert program. With this new program you can certify 24/7 which makes it much more convenient for claimants. Information on certifying online can be found here: You may also call in to certify your benefits each week. Failure to certify each week will result in not receiving your benefits for the week.

You can receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. If by that time you have not been able to find employment you will have to file for an extension. Information about unemployment benefits extensions can be found here:

Appealing a ruling

If your claim for unemployment benefits was denied, you have the ability to appeal the ruling. The first step in filing an appeal is to send and letter to the EDD containing:

  • Your Name, phone, number, and address
  • Your SSN
  • Reason for appeal

However, it may be simpler to fill out this form provided by the EDD, This letter is included in the rejection notice sent to you as well.

Once the EDD reviews the appeal, they will make a decision. If it’s decided that your appeal does have a basis you will receive a letter from the office of appeals containing a hearing date, time, and location. After the hearing, the final judgment by the Administrative Law Judge will be mailed to you. There will be a phone number on the letter to call in case you have any questions.

Before filing your appeal, make sure that you have new information in regards to why you should be approved. Failure to present new information may result in your claim being denied again.

Contact EDD

Employment Development Department

P.O. Box 826880 – UIPCD, MIC 40

Sacramento, CA 94280-0001

Category: Insurance

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