COVID-19 and Your Unemployment – Answers to FAQs

Last updated: 10/16/2020 | En español | COVID-19 Main Page

We are experiencing a high call volume and longer wait times on our phone lines. We appreciate your patience and understand you have questions.

Here you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) we have received about COVID-19 and unemployment.

If you have specific questions about your claim, log in to UI OnlineSM and select Contact Us at the top of the homepage.

Top Questions and Answers of the Week

If you are filing a new claim for unemployment, you can use to verify your identity in UI Online. Visit Filing an Unemployment Claim for more information.

If you have already filed a claim for unemployment and need to verify your identity, you can use our upload documents option within UI Online. You will only see the upload documents option if there has been an issue verifying your identity.

You can also send us documents by mail. Visit Verify Your Identity to learn more.

If you have used all benefits on your regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim or your claim has expired and you do not qualify for a new claim, you may be eligible for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extension. If you use all benefits in your PEUC extension, you may qualify for a FED-ED Extension.

Review the Unemployment Benefit Programs Flowchart (PDF) for information about extension benefits that may be available to you.

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 31, 2020. To qualify, your claim must have started on July 8, 2018, or after. Depending on when you filed your UI claim and if it has expired, you may need to reapply. Visit Federal CARES Act Provisions for Unemployment to learn more.

FED-ED Extension

The FED-ED extension began on May 10, 2020. It will be available until California’s unemployment rate drops to a certain level. If you are eligible, we will automatically file your FED-ED extension after you collect all benefits on the PEUC extension. For more information, review FED-ED Extension.

You can reopen an unemployment claim online, by phone, or by mail. The best way to reopen a claim is by logging in to your Benefits Program Online account and using UI Online. View UI Online: Reopen your claim (YouTube) to learn more.

Reopening a claim online is a shorter process than the original application for benefits. In most cases, we can automatically reopen a claim within a few days to a week.

You must be able to and available for work to collect benefits. If you don’t meet this requirement, we will follow up with you to see if you’re eligible. Once your claim is reopened, you must certify every two weeks to receive benefits.

If your account is frozen and you can’t use your EDD Debit Card or access funds, we may need to verify your identity to continue paying you unemployment benefits. If so, you should immediately receive an email or text message, along with a follow-up notice in the mail, requesting identity verification documents. We strongly recommend that you log in to UI Online and use the upload documents option from the homepage for the fastest processing possible. Once verified, you’ll continue receiving benefits.

If you don’t respond to our communications or pass verification checks, we will send notices of disqualification and appeal rights.

The Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program provides an extra $300 per week in addition to your unemployment benefits. If you received unemployment benefits for any weeks between July 26 and September 5, 2020, you may be eligible for LWA payments.

To be eligible for payments, you must:

  • Have a weekly benefit amount of at least $100 (even if you received less because you reported wages) for one or more weeks between July 26 and September 5.
  • Provide a one-time self-certification indicating that you are unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19. To learn more, refer to How do I certify for the extra $300 per week? 

Note: You do not need to provide a self-certification if you already indicated that you were unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 when filing for unemployment. You will automatically receive payments.

If you are not eligible, you will receive a Notice of Determination for Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program (DE 6330LWA) in the mail.

We’ve issued Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments for weeks of unemployment between July 26 and August 29, 2020. We are now issuing payments for the week of August 30.

If you indicated that you were unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 when filing for unemployment, you will automatically receive LWA payments. No further action is needed.

If you did not indicate that you were unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 when you filed for unemployment, you must provide a one-time self-certification before we can issue payment. To learn more, refer to How do I certify for the extra $300 per week? We are continuing to process these payments as long as federal funds are available.

How You Will Receive Payment

We will add LWA payments to your regular unemployment benefit amount for any eligible weeks. We will issue payments retroactively for weeks that you have already received unemployment benefits, beginning July 26.

  • You will receive payments based on when you certified for unemployment benefits. Payments may be lumped together or come as separate $300 payments.
  • If you were not paid for any weeks due to excessive earnings, being fully employed, or disqualification, you will not receive an LWA payment for those weeks.

Note: You will be paid by EDD Debit CardSM or checks in the mail based on how you’ve received past benefit payments.

If you did not indicate that you were unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 when you filed for unemployment, you must provide a one-time self-certification to receive Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments.

If you need to provide a one-time self-certification, we will contact you using UI OnlineSM as well as by email, text, or mailed notice asking you to provide the information needed to process your payments. Certifying means answering a yes or no question. If you answer “No,” your claim for LWA will be disqualified.    

Note: Certifying for LWA payments is different than certifying for regular unemployment benefits. You only need to certify once to receive LWA payments. You must continue to certify every two weeks to receive your regular unemployment benefits along with any LWA payments.

Certifying is answering basic questions every two weeks that tells us you’re still unemployed and eligible to continue receiving payments. Usually, you certify for benefits through UI Online, EDD Tele-CertSM, or the paper certification.

The certification requirement was temporarily suspended for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims early in the pandemic through the week ending May 9, 2020. This was an emergency effort to help process a historically high number of unemployment claims.

If you received benefit payments during this time and did not submit a certification, you must now certify for those weeks to confirm your eligibility. This is known as “retroactive certification.”

You must submit any retroactive certifications by November 21, 2020. For more information and to start certifying, visit Retroactive Certification for Unemployment.

If you are receiving mail or text messages from the EDD, and you didn’t file for unemployment, this could be evidence of fraud. Visit Fraud and Penalties: What You Need to Know to learn about reporting fraud and the actions we are taking to prevent fraudulent claims from being paid.

If you receive mail from the EDD that doesn’t belong to you, we encourage you to do one of the following:

  • Send it to EDD PO Box 826880, MIC 43, Sacramento, CA 94280-0225.
  • Write “Return to Sender” on the envelope and give it to your mail carrier.
    • Envelopes with EDD debit cards, which are sent on behalf of Bank of America from an address in Tennessee, can also be returned to sender.
  • Instead of throwing them away, destroy the items to help us make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are now available for workers, business owners, and self-employed people whose jobs or businesses have been impacted by the wildfires that began August 16, 2020. DUA benefits are for people who do not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, FED-ED extensions, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.

The fastest way to apply for DUA benefits is with UI Online. The deadline for filing a DUA claim is November 30, 2020. Refer to the DUA News Release (PDF) for details and specific county information. We will review your claim to confirm if you qualify for DUA or for one of our other benefit programs.

For more information about disaster assistance, visit EDD Disaster-Related Services.

Unemployment Insurance

Find out if you’re eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and get answers to common questions about claims.

Visit UI FAQs
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

If you don’t qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance, you may be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

Visit PUA FAQs
Disability or Paid Family Leave Benefits

Learn what benefits are available if you are sick or caring for a family member.


Get information about the temporary suspensions to the WARN Act and what EDD services can help navigate your business operations.

Visit Employer FAQs

Still Need Help?

Find the latest updates and changes in effect due to COVID-19, including what benefits are available, how to apply, and what to expect after applying.