California Unemployment Guide

If you've recently lost your job in California, you may be eligible for California Unemployment Insurance benefits. This is a guide to filing your claim for California unemployment benefits. Since each situation may have its own unique circumstances, make sure you check with the contact numbers and websites listed below to make sure you get the maximum benefits you can claim.

Filing for Unemployment:

Unemployed California workers can claim unemployment online or call the California Employment Development Department to file an Unemployment Application. Unemployed workers can fax or mail a paper form – The mailing address and fax number are found on the specific form you file.

You'll need the following info to apply:
  • Name & SSN
  • Address & Phone
  • Driver License or State ID card
  • Last date of work. If working part time, provide employer information and hours.
  • Name/address/phone of all employers for the last 18 months, Wages for each, and method of payment for each (Salary, hourly, commission).
  • Name of employer of longest tenure in past 18 months
  • Reason for termination
  • Total amount of severance, accrued holiday, vacation, unused sick pay, all before deductions. Include date it was paid. If you are collecting a pension (not including Social Security) make sure you have the amount per month and start date.
  • Ability and availability to work
  • If you are not a US Citizen, you'll need your Alien Registration Number, expiration, and type
California has a variety of forms – the California Employment Development Department (EDD) site will direct you to the correct form for your specific circumstances and filing method.

You'll receive a packet of materials to complete your claim about 10 days after your initial filing, via US Mail. The packet will contain a date and time of your schedule telephone interview, and expected questions for your review. EDD staff will call you at the scheduled time and resolve any outstanding eligibility issues during the telephone interview.

Follow this step –by-step claim guide offered by California's Employment Development Department for more help.

Filing Your Weekly Claim:

Your weekly benefits are based on the wages reported by your employers.

A bi-weekly unemployment Continued Claim Certification (DE 4581) will be included with your packet, which you should receive about 10 days after your initial filing. If EDD has no questions on your initial application, if EDD has no additional questions and you are found eligible based on your initial application, a check will be enclosed with your unemployment Continued Claim Certification. Continued Claim Certifications are filed bi-weekly. This form must be sent via US Mail using the enclosed envelope.

Subsequent checks should be received within 10 days after mailing, attached to your next Continued Claim Certification form. California also offers the EDD Debit Card program. See a video on how to use the EDD debit card.

Here is some additional information offered by the EDD.

You can call EDD's Automated Telephone System at 1-866-333-4606 to determine the status of your unemployment check.

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Unemployment Benefits:

Unemployed California workers may be available for one of the following training programs:
  • California Training Benefits Program – See form DE 2332
  • California Training Benefits Program Extensions
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance Program – See form DE8309

CalJOBS – You may be required to register on the CalJOBS website within 21 days of your initial filing date. CalJOBs can assist you with resume preparation, and will list your resume online. CalJOBS also serves as a job board, to find jobs that match your skill set.

You may also be required to attend reemployment workshops and training.

Information on CalJOBS and reemployment workshops can be found here.

You can get in-person employment and training advice, plus advice on benefits at your county's One-Stop Career Center.

California does not make health care insurance available to unemployed workers, but
health benefits may be available under the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), crediting 72.5% of qualified health care premiums.

You may be eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) if:
  1. You meet one of the following candidate requirements:
    • Your company was Trade Certified and you receive Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits (TAA) - Click here for details.
    • You received pension payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and are 55 years or older
    • You are the spouse or dependent of someone who fell into one of the categories above at the time of Medicare enrollment, death, or divorce.
  2. You meet the general requirements.
  3. You are enrolled in a qualified health plan.
Check for details.

Filing for extensions:

Federal-State Extended Benefits – The EDD will send you a notice when and if you are eligible for this benefit. This benefit is available during times of high unemployment.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance may be available if your unemployment was caused by natural disaster. Find out more on Form 8714Y.

Ending Unemployment:

This part's easy – do nothing. When you stop filing, your unemployment benefits automatically end.


If your check is delayed beyond 10 days of mailing your Continued Claim Form, contact EDD.

Do not use overnight delivery services or send your Continued Claim Form to an address other than what is on the form. These will both cause delays in payment.

Make sure you fold the form so the mailing address appears in the envelope window.

Do not mail your form early – your form will not be processed, and no benefit check will be sent. Do not mail your form beyond the due date – your form will not be processed, and no benefit check will be sent. These may cause your benefits to be delayed, and possibly denied.

You must sign the Continued Claim Form. Unsigned claim forms will cause payment delays.

For more questions and answer, see EDD's FAQ page.

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