Federal CARES Act Provisions for Unemployment

Last updated: 11/20/2020 | En español | COVID-19 Main Page | COVID-19 FAQs

The federal CARES Act has added these provisions to expand unemployment benefits so we can help more Californians impacted by COVID-19:

Start by reviewing the Unemployment Benefit Programs Flowchart (PDF) for information about what programs and extensions may be available to you.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

You may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if you are not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) and you are unemployed or partially unemployed for a COVID-19 reason permissible under federal law. This includes:

  • Business owners.
  • Self-employed workers.
  • Independent contractors.
  • People with a limited work history.
  • People who have used all their regular UI benefits as well as any extended benefits.
  • People who are serving false statement penalty weeks on their regular UI claim.

There are up to 46 weeks of benefits available to eligible workers, which can be backdated to February 2, 2020, and available through December 26, 2020. PUA launched with up to 39 weeks of benefits and an extra seven weeks were added. However, you may receive fewer than 46 weeks of PUA benefits if:

  • You previously collected regular UI and extended UI benefits (not including PEUC benefits). We will subtract these weeks from the 46 total weeks of your PUA claim.
  • Your unemployment or partial unemployment is no longer due to a COVID-19 reason.
  • The PUA program is no longer available (for weeks of unemployment after December 26).

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

Usually, you can only collect up to 26 weeks of regular state Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits within a 12-month benefit year. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides an additional 13 weeks of payments if you’ve used all of your available UI benefits.

The extension is available from March 29, 2020, until December 26, 2020. To qualify, your claim must have started on July 8, 2018, or after. Depending on when you filed your unemployment claim and if it has expired, you may need to reapply for unemployment.

  • If you run out of benefits within the benefit year, we will automatically file a PEUC extension on your regular unemployment claim. A benefit year is the 12-month period from the start of your claim. You should receive a text message verifying that we filed your extension and a notice in the mail within 5-7 days. You should also monitor your UI Online account for updates and to certify for benefit payments.
  • If your benefit year has expired, you must file another unemployment claim. We will send you a notice telling you to file a new claim if you are still unemployed. UI Online is still the fastest way to apply. If you have enough wages to qualify for regular unemployment, we will process your claim.
  • If you don't qualify for a new claim after the benefit year expires, two things will happen.
    • First, you will receive a $0 award notice in the mail saying there are not enough wages for a new claim.
    • A few days later, you will receive another notice showing that we automatically filed a PEUC extension on your other unemployment claim. You will also receive a text message about the extension. It will be backdated to one of the following, whichever comes later:
      • March 29, 2020
      • The last certification date of your expired claim.
      Continue to monitor your UI Online account for updates and to certify for benefit payments.


After your extension is filed, you will need to certify for benefit payments. Certifying is answering basic questions every two weeks that tells us you’re still unemployed and eligible to continue receiving payments. Payments will be the same as the weekly benefit amount from your regular UI claim.

If you have a PUA claim, you cannot collect PEUC at the same time. If you filed a PUA claim because you used all your UI benefits, we will stop your PUA claim as of March 29, and will transfer you automatically to a PEUC claim. If you still have false statement penalty weeks on your regular UI claim, you are not eligible for PEUC and you will continue on the PUA claim.

FED-ED Extension

If you use all your PEUC benefits, you may qualify for a FED-ED extension.

Pandemic Additional Compensation

If you have a regular UI, PUA claim, or a PEUC extension between March 29 and July 25, 2020, the EDD is paying an additional $600 in federal stimulus funds on top of your current weekly benefit amount. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You do not need to do anything. We will automatically add the $600 to each week of benefits that you are eligible to receive.
  • The additional $600 is for all approved claims and extensions with weeks available for benefits between March 29 and July 25, 2020.

Note: Unless the federal government extends the $600 payments, we cannot pay the extra amount for any weeks after July 25, 2020. Any unemployment benefits through July 25 will still be eligible for the extra $600, even if you are paid later.