California Unemployment Benefits

The State of California Employment Development Department maintains its Unemployment Insurance program to help those who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own (usually this means laid off, not quit or fired) and who have enough work time in to qualify. In addition, to qualify for unemployment you must continue to look for work, and must supply the state with information on your job-seeking activities.

The amount of your unemployment compensation will be based off of your earnings over a 12-month base period that starts at least 3 months before you lost your job. For example, if you file for unemployment in April, the base period used would be the previous January through December. Your compensation could be anywhere from $40 to $450 per week depending on your past earnings. For more specifics on how unemployment amounts are calculated, you can download this publication.

If you believe you qualify for unemployment in California, you can apply in one of two ways:


After You Apply

A determination of your eligibility will be made soon after you apply, usually within 10 days. However, it is possible you will be contacted for a phone interview if the Employment Development Department has questions about your claim.

If you are approved, you will be issued a Visa debit card. Your unemployment compensation benefits will be automatically loaded onto that card, which is accepted anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

Remember that you must continually “certify” your status weekly in order to receive ongoing unemployment benefits. This includes offering information about any work you have done or jobs you have pursued. You can certify your claim: