Eligibility Requirements

To receive unemployment benefits, you must meet all eligibility requirements when applying and when certifying for benefits.

Requirements to Apply

When applying for unemployment benefits, you must:

  • Have earned enough wages during the base period.
  • Be totally or partially unemployed.
  • Be unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • Be physically able to work.
  • Be available for work.
  • Be ready and willing to accept work immediately.

If you believe that you are misclassified as an independent contractor, we encourage you to apply for benefits, and we will determine your eligibility.

A base period is a specific 12-month term the EDD uses to see if you earned enough wages to establish a claim. To learn how we determine your base period, review How Unemployment Benefits are Computed (DE 8714AB) (PDF).

Your weekly benefit amount (WBA) ranges from $40 to $450. To get an estimate of what you will receive, use the unemployment benefit calculator.

For more information about how we calculate benefits, review the following resources:

Weekly Benefits Certification Requirements

You must meet eligibility requirements for each week that you certify for benefits. You must be:

  • Physically able to work.
  • Available for work.
  • Ready and willing to accept work immediately.

To request benefit payments, you must certify for benefits by submitting a certification online, by phone, or by mail.

Note: You must serve a one-week unpaid waiting period on your claim before you are paid UI benefits. The waiting period can only be served if you certify for benefits and meet all eligibility requirements for that week. Your first certification will usually include the one-week unpaid waiting period and one week of payment if you meet eligibility requirements for both weeks. Certify for benefits every two weeks to continue receiving benefit payments.

Certifying is the process of answering basic questions every two weeks that tell us you’re still unemployed and eligible to continue receiving benefit payments. Your claim or your payment could be delayed if you answer questions incorrectly. For help answering these questions, visit Understanding the Certification Questions or review Unemployment Benefit Certification Question Information (YouTube).

If the information provided on your certification shows that you did not meet eligibility requirements, we will schedule a phone interview to determine your eligibility. If you disagree with the decision to reduce or deny benefits, you may file an appeal.

Important: Most customers are required to register for CalJOBS and create an online resume that can be viewed by employers. You must meet this requirement within 21 days of receiving your Notice of Requirement to Register for Work (DE 8405) form. Failure to meet this requirement can result in a delay or loss of benefits. Watch How to Register for CalJOBS and Post a Resume (YouTube) for more information.

What Happens If You Quit or Get Fired

We may schedule a phone interview  to discuss your claim and circumstances, email you with instructions on how to complete your Eligibility Questionnaire online, or mail you a paper questionnaire, Request for Eligibility Information (DE 4365FF). If you quit, you must prove good cause for quitting. If you are fired, your employer must prove there was misconduct. Either party can disagree with the decision and file an appeal.

If you do not receive a call at your scheduled appointment time, we may have canceled your appointment because we confirmed your eligibility or resolved the issue before your interview. If your appointment has been canceled, it will no longer show in UI Online. Check UI Online for your current payment status.

Work Search Requirement

To be eligible for benefits, most people are required to conduct a reasonable effort to search for suitable work. We advise you to keep a record of your work search dates and employer contact information for future use and potential eligibility interviews.

Your individual instructions for conducting a work search are listed on your Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award (DE 429Z). For more information, visit Job Seekers: Returning to Work.

Additional Resources