How to request unemployment benefits in California?

In California, there is the “Unemployment Insurance Program” (UI), whose mission is to pay benefits to workers that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

It is a program executed by the Employment Development Department, but it is funded by the employers of the state of California.

The process of getting those benefits is quite simple. In this article, you will find an easy guide to learn how to file for unemployment.


Every time you want to apply, the first thing you should do is review the requirements to verify if you are eligible or not. To get these benefits, you need to fulfill the next items:

Monetary eligibility criteria

The very first thing the department will take a look at is your last income. You should have earned at least $1,300 in the highest quarter of your “base period”; or $900 in your highest quarter and total base period earnings of 1.25 times your high quarter earnings. For this program, 12 months are considered as your base period, divided into 4 quarters.

Current employment status

You need to specify if you are unemployed; in case you are working, clarify that your hours have been reduced.

Causes of unemployment status

To get these benefits, you have to demonstrate that you are unemployed through no fault of your own.

Also, you may be wondering if you can get unemployment benefits if you quit your job or get fired. If this happens, the department will schedule an appointment with you to review the circumstances of your case. You have to prove that you quitted for a good reason, or your former employer must prove that you were not involved in misconduct.

If you disagree with the final decision, you can appeal.

Availability to work

By the time you apply, you need to be available to work immediately, and you must look for a job weekly.

Physical condition

You also need to be physically able to work. However, it does not mean you cannot apply if you do not meet this requirement; the department will sift through your case, but it will probably take more time.

Legal authorization to work

You need to have authorization to work in the U.S.

➡ READ ALSO: Medical status in California

File for unemployment

Once you have verified that you meet the requirements, the next step is to file your claim; you must do it within the first week you lost your job, and you have 3 ways to do it:

  • Online: This is perhaps the safest and most convenient way to apply; visit this website and create an account (in case you already have one, log in and follow the steps).

california unemployment benefits online application

  • Through phone: Employment Development Department’s representatives are available to assist you in filing your claim from Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Call 1-800-300-5616 or 1-800-326-8937 if you speak Spanish.
  • Through mail or fax: You can also fill this form and submit it to the fax number listed on it.

california unemployment benefits form application

Once you have applied, you will receive a notification in your mail to create an online resume through the CalJOBS website; you have 21 days to do it.

Required information when applying

  • Data from your last job (address, company name, supervisor’s name, phone number, and mail location).
  • The reason and the date you stopped working.
  • The sum of your gross earnings in the last week you worked (you must begin with Sunday and end with the day last day you worked).
  • Data from your former jobs during the past 18 months (company names, addresses, dates of employment, gross wages earned, and the reason you are not working there anymore)
  • Information of your legal authorization to work in the U.S or your citizenship status.

What is the amount of the benefits?

It takes over 3 weeks for the department to process your claim and issue your payment. The payment is released weekly, and the amount varies from $40 to $450; it will depend on your case.

Here is a calculator to estimate the amount of your payments:

Special regulations due to COVID-19 pandemic

During these quarantine times, you can still apply for unemployment benefits, but the obligation to look for a job weekly has been eliminated.