COVID-19 and Your Unemployment – Answers to FAQs

Last updated: 9/18/2020 | 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

California is participating in the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, which was authorized by the Presidential Memorandum. This will provide an additional $300 per week if your weekly benefit amount was at least $100 per week between July 26 and August 15, even if you received less because you reported wages.

You must certify that your earnings have been impacted by COVID-19. This includes regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or FED-ED extensions. The payments are available for a limited period of time. Payments are for weeks of unemployment beginning July 26.

We will process these additional payments in two phases:

Phase 1 began on September 7, 2020.

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

LWA payments are being issued based on when you certified for regular UI or PUA benefits for the weeks between July 26 and August 15. The payments will be added to your regular unemployment amount for any eligible weeks. Payments will be issued retroactively for weeks that you have already received unemployment benefits, beginning July 26.

Visit LWA Payments to learn how you will receive payment.

All payments in phase one are scheduled to be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Phase 2 is in progress.

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.

We will contact you using UI Online as well as by email, text, or mailed notice asking you to provide the information needed to process your payments. Do this as soon as possible. You might not receive LWA payments if you respond late or if the funding for this program becomes unavailable. For faster service and prompt notifications, register in UI Online.

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

After phases one and two, we will issue two additional weeks of LWA payments, recently approved by the federal government. These payments will be for weeks of unemployment between August 16 and August 29, 2020. Additionally, California is applying for a sixth week of payments for the week beginning August 30 based upon the availability of federal funds. More information will be provided when available.

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 14, 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 September 28, 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.

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.

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.

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

For faster processing, we’ve just launched a new document upload option within UI Online to securely verify your identity. This option involves two phases.

  • Phase 1: Applies to new claimants who are required to verify their identity. They will receive notification by mail, email, or text alerting them to fully register in UI Online or access their UI Online account. Claimants will find a document upload option on their UI Online homepage.
  • Phase 2: Coming within a few weeks, claimants will be able to upload documents by mobile phone and provide wage information that may have not been reported by employers to the EDD.

Monitor Email and Postal Service

You should receive an email message with the subject “New Online Account Created.” That means your registration was automatically completed in UI Online, where you can certify for your first benefit payment.

If you do not receive an email and have not filed an unemployment claim in the past several years, you will receive a letter with an EDD Customer Account Number (EDDCAN) in the mail. Use the EDDCAN to finish registering for full UI Online access.

Note: Regardless of how you file, you will receive important EDD information in the mail about two weeks after applying. This includes a notice telling you what you could receive in weekly payments, if eligible.

Certify for Benefits

After completing UI Online registration, you must “certify” for your first benefit payment. Certifying is answering basic questions every two weeks that tells us you’re still unemployed and eligible to continue receiving payments. It is required to receive unemployment.

You will receive an email and a reminder on your UI Online account homepage when you log in if there are weeks you need to certify for. We have video tutorials in four different languages to help you complete this legally required step so you can keep collecting unemployment benefits.

Note: If you have not looked for work, you will still be paid benefits for that week if you meet all other eligibility requirements.

Visit COVID-19: Unemployment Claims for complete details about steps to take after filing your claim.

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 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.

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.

If you received an EDD Debit Card from Bank of America in the last three years, your unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments will automatically be added to it even if the card was issued for other EDD benefits including Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave.

  • If you still have the same card, your payment will automatically be added to it. If your card has expired, you will automatically be sent a new one when your payment is ready.
  • If you don’t have this card anymore, visit the Bank of America website to get a new one. Please allow 7-10 days for the card to arrive in the mail.

If you have not received an EDD Debit Card from Bank of America in the last three years, continue to check the mail for it. It can take some time to process and for the card to reach you. If it has been more than 10 days since your claim was approved with a “Paid” status, contact Bank of America.

For information on delivery, lost or stolen cards, tracking payments, and more, visit EDD Debit Card.

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.