How To File For California Unemployment

This page provides information on how to file for unemployment in California. If you lost your job or your hours were reduced at no fault of your own, you may qualify to receive unemployment benefits in your state. Review the information below, if you still have questions or issues about these benefits, then we suggest to contact your local California Unemployment Department for assistance. It is important that you file your new claim right away because California unemployment insurance are not retroactive.

Individuals should apply for benefits as soon as they are unemployed, or working less than full-time. All claims are effective on the Sunday prior to applying for benefits, and have a one week unpaid waiting period. The waiting period does not begin until the claim is filed.

California unemployment eligibility requirements

To be entitled to benefits, you must be:

  • Out of work due to no fault of your own
  • Physically able to work
  • Actively seeking work
  • Ready to accept work

Individuals who are currently unemployed or working part-time can apply for UI benefits (you cannot apply for benefits in anticipation of your last day of work). When filing a new claim through UI Online, some customers will be instructed to fax or mail their UI application to the EDD. If this occurs, the paper Unemployment Insurance Application, DE 1101I, will display. For faster and more secure processing, fax the completed form to the number listed on the form. If you decide to mail your UI application, use the address on the form and allow additional time for processing. Have the following items ready before applying:

  • Social Security Number
  • Name (including prior names [e.g., married or maiden names]), mailing address and telephone number
  • Driver's license or ID card number
  • Alien registration number and expiration date, if a non-citizen
  • DD Form 214 if you served in the military in the last 18 months
  • The last employer is the business or company you last physically worked for or could still be working for part-time
  • Name of company as it appears on your pay check stub or W-2 form (This could be a payroll agency or staffing agency)
  • Complete mailing address including zip code and physical location
  • Company's phone number and supervisor's name
  • The reason for working reduced hours or no longer working with the employer
  • Employment History (ALL employers in the last 18 months including the last employer)
  • Name of ALL employers as they appear on your pay check stub or W-2 form
  • Period of employment (start date and end date)
  • Wages earned and how you were paid (hourly, weekly, monthly)

Calculating UI benefits

Benefits are calculated using an individual's earnings during a specific 12-month period. The base period is this 12-month period. The Standard Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the beginning date of the UI claim. The amount paid each week is calculated based on the calendar quarter with the highest earnings during the base period.

If individuals do not have sufficient wages in the Standard Base Period to establish a claim, the EDD will consider whether they qualify to file a claim using the Alternate Base Period. The Alternate Base Period can only be used to file a UI claim when there are not enough wages earned in the Standard Base Period to file a monetarily valid claim. The Alternate Base Period is the last four completed calendar quarters prior to the beginning date of the UI claim.

Weekly benefit amounts range from a minimum of $40 to a maximum of $450 depending on the claimant's quarterly earnings. To qualify for the maximum amount each week an individual must earn at least $11,674.01 in a calendar quarter during the base period (an individual's earnings during a specific 12-month period). A claim is effective for one year. During the year, claimants can receive from 12-26 weeks of full benefits. The number of weeks varies, based on total earnings during the base period (an individual's earnings during a 12-month period). During periods of high unemployment, additional benefits may be granted by Congress, or the State Legislature.

Filing California unemployment claim

You can file your unemployment claim online, over the phone or by fax/mail. The fastest and easiest way is to apply for benefits online. To access their system online right now, click here. Below are the available hours to submit your unemployment claims through their online UI system.

Sunday 5am to 8:30pm
Monday 4am to 10pm
Tuesday - Friday 2am to 10pm
Saturday 2am to 8pm

If you prefer to submit your claim by phone, then representatives are available at the following toll-free numbers, Monday through Friday from 8am to 12pm PT except on state holidays.

English 800-300-5616
Spanish 800-326-8937
Cantonese 800-547-3506
Mandarin 866-303-0706
Vietnamese 800-547-2058
TTY 800-815-9387

When accessing UI Online to file a new claim, some customers will be instructed to fax or mail their UI application to the EDD. If this occurs, the Unemployment Insurance Application, DE 1101I will display. For faster and more secure processing, fax the completed form to the number listed on the form. If you decide to mail your UI application, use the address on the form and allow additional time for processing.

After filing your claim

Once you have filed your unemployment claim you will be mailed important information about your claim and the UI program. Be sure to read and respond to all requests to avoid payment delays. You will also receive a separate mailing with your first Continued Claim Form, DE 4581. You must submit this form every two weeks to request your benefit payments. This process, known as certifying for benefits, provides the EDD with information to determine your eligibility.

Certify for benefits through UI Online or EDD Tele-Cert. Certifications submitted online or by phone are processed on the same day received. Eligible benefit payments generally appear on your EDD Debit Card the following day, including weekends and holidays. If submitting your certifications by mail, allow at least 10 days for processing.

Can non US citizens collect UI benefits?

To collect UI benefits, non-citizen applicants must establish that they were in satisfactory immigration status and authorized to work in the US, when earning the wages used to establish their claim. In addition, the non-citizen applicants must provide proof that they remain in satisfactory immigration status and are authorized to work each week that benefits are claimed. Non-citizen applicants will be required to provide specific information from their employment authorization documents issued to them by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In some cases, non-citizen applicants will be asked to provide legible copies of their employment authorization documents. EDD verifies immigration status and work authorization through an electronic system maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.

Filing an appeal

You have the right to file an appeal if you do not agree with all or part of our decision. A claimant who disagrees with a Notice of Determination, DE 1080CZ, and wants to file an appeal must send a letter to EDD at the address shown on the notice. The letter must contain:

  • Name
  • Address and telephone number
  • Social security number
  • The reason for the appeal

The Department will review the decision. If the decision is correct (according to state law and regulation), they will send the appellant a notice that the appeal has been sent to the Office of Appeals. The Office of Appeals will send a hearing notice that:

  • Schedules the hearing
  • Sends information about the hearing
  • Advises the claimant where and when to appear for the hearing

The hearing notice contains important information about the appeals process. An Administrative Law Judge hears the appeal and testimony is taken under oath. After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge mails a decision to all parties. Contact the Office of Appeals at the telephone number listed on the hearing notice if you have any questions. You may also access the Employment Development Department Appeal Form DE 1000M if you wish to file an appeal. The appeal form is also included with each disqualification notice that they mail. Mail your completed appeal form to the address on the disqualification notice.