California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) manages the Unemployment Insurance (UI) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) programs for the State of California. SDI includes both Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL). You can file a claim for all of these programs online, by phone, or by mail.
COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits and Payment Issues
EDD has reviewed the federal CARES Act and has is now compliant with the following enhanced unemployment programs:
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): expands eligibility for individuals who are typically ineligible for
Unemployment benefits, for example independent contractors, and self-employed and “gig” workers. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) was released in California effective April 28, 2020.
• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): provides an additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all recipients of Unemployment Insurance; retroactive to the week ending April 4, 2020.
• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): provides an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to all recipients. The EDD initiated phase one of the PEUC roll-out on May 27. The department is now automatically reviewing regular UI claims in our system for those with a benefit year that started on or after June 2, 2019, and that have run out of all available benefits.
The EDD offers a wide variety of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) including those about the PUA program designed for the self-employed, as well as how eligibility for unemployment benefits can be impacted with a worker’s return to work or refusal to return to work.
If you qualify for PUA the initial payments you will receive are as follows (Phased)
- $167.00 per week, for each week from February 2, 2020 to March 28, 2020 that you were unemployed due to a COVID-19 related reason.
- $167.00 plus $600 per week, for each week from March 29, 2020 to July 25, 2020, that you are unemployed due to a COVID-19 related reason.
- $167.00 per week, for each week from July 26, 2020 to December 26, 2020, that you are unemployed due to a COVID-19 related reason, up to a total of 39 weeks (minus any weeks of regular UI and certain extended UI benefits that you have received).
If you qualify for your claim to be backdated to an earlier PUA effective date based on your last day of work, you could receive payment for prior weeks you were unemployed due to COVID-19. You will be required to provide the EDD eligibility information every two weeks. This is known as certifying for benefits.
After these initial payments, depending on your prior earnings, your weekly amount of $167.00 per week may be increased. You will have an opportunity to certify your prior income on your PUA application. The EDD is working to establish efficient procedures to determine if an increase to the weekly PUA amount will be appropriate after an individual receives the initial weekly amount. In addition to applying to future benefits, any increase from the $167 amount also applies retroactively. This means that you may also receive payment to make up the difference you should have been paid if your benefits had initially been based on the increased amount. You will be notified of any increase that you are entitled to receive.
Example: If you apply for PUA on April 28, the first day it will be available, and you certify you were unemployed due to COVID-19 since March 8, you have been unemployed for seven full weeks. If you meet the COVID-19-related criteria for PUA, we will calculate your amount as follows—
March 8 to March 28 = 3 weeks x $167/week = $501
March 29 to April 25 = 4 weeks x $167/week (with extra $600) = $3,068
TOTAL: $3,569 (from March 8 to April 25)EDD PUA
Challenges with CA EDD Payments Continue
The EDD is sending the following letter to people having challenges receiving the $600 payments and/or getting extended benefits. To help navigate the mandated requirements, the EDD provided the following guidance to assist workers. It all depends on when you exhausted your benefits, and when your benefit year expires.
1. If you received your last benefit payment for weeks you spent unemployed between February 2 and March 21, but are still within the one year that your claim is good for, you could be eligible for 13 weeks of PUA benefits for the weeks you are eligible for between February 2, 2020 and March 28, 2020. While you will not be able to apply for PUA through UI Online, the EDD will send you a Notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Award and a separate document you’ll need to complete to give EDD additional details that we don’t already have from you to meet PUA requirements. Watch for further updates soon.
2. If you received your last benefit payment for weeks you spent unemployed on or after March 21 and are still within your benefit year, you will not meet federal requirements for PUA. But the EDD will automatically file an extension claim for you as soon as it’s available since we will already have your information needed. You will receive a notice from EDD when that claim has been filed and when you can certify for PEUC benefit payments.
3. If you ran out of benefits before February 2 and are still within your benefit year, you most likely will not be eligible for PUA because you have to verify your unemployment is a direct result of the pandemic. However, you may be eligible for the new federal 13-week extension. The EDD will notify you of how to apply as soon as further details are available.
4. If you have run out of your benefits AND your benefit year has expired, you are encouraged to reapply for benefits through UI Online. Based on the information you provide, the EDD will determine if you qualify for a new regular UI claim based on wage data or a PUA claim.
5. If you are unable to collect regular UI benefits due to a disqualification (such as you voluntarily quit, were fired or discharged from your employer), or you are serving a false statement penalty from a past claim, you could be eligible for PUA benefits. As with group one above, you will receive a Notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Award and a separate document you’ll need to complete to give the EDD additional details that we don’t already have from you to meet PUA requirements.
Can I file an Unemployment Insurance claim if I am self-employed, an independent contractor, or gig worker?
If you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or gig worker and are unable to work or have had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits under a few different scenarios:
- You chose to contribute to UI Elective Coverage and paid the required contributions to be considered potentially eligible for benefits.
- Your past employer made contributions on your behalf over the past 5 to 18 months.
- You may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.
When filing for your UI claim, you will be asked for your last employer.
- If you own your business or are self-employed, you should list yourself as your last employer.
- If you are an independent contractor, you should list yourself as your last employer.
- If you believe you are misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, you should list the business you contract with as your last employer. Be sure to include:
- The employer name, phone number, and address.
- Type of work performed.
- Dates worked.
- Your gross wages and how you were paid (such as hourly or weekly).
- If you are a gig worker, you should list your gig employer as your last employer.
File a Claim
File a new claim if you have already applied for UI but are eligible for PUA because you are a business owner, independent contractor, self-employed worker, freelancer, or gig worker affected by COVID-19, and you have not already appealed a $0 award notice, been asked to verify your identity, or requested a wage investigation.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the following temporary exceptions are in place for all Unemployment Insurance claims until further notice:
- Waiting Period – The 7-day waiting period is waived for claims beginning on or after January 19, 2020. After you submit your first two-week continued certification, you will be paid for the first week of your claim.
- Work Search – You are not required to look for work each week to be eligible for benefits.
The individual files a claim for UI benefits using one of the following methods:
- Access eApply4UI: (online is the recommended option)
Answers to questions are entered online. After the application is completed the individual submits it online to the Department. Note: This is the fastest way to file your claim.
- Contact EDD by phone:
Individuals will speak to a Department representative who will ask a series of questions and record the responses.
- Complete a paper UI Application, DE 1101I:
The application can be completed online and printed, or it can be printed and completed by hand. The application can then be faxed or mailed to the EDD for processing using the fax number or mailing address on the application.
Mail – CA EDD Unemployment Insurance
Employment Development Department
P.O. Box 826880 – UIPCD, MIC 40
Sacramento, CA 94280-0001
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