Qualify for Unemployment Insurance

Learn what is required to qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and the types of claims you can submit for unemployment compensation and benefits.

Types of Claims

There are different types of unemployment claims to cover different needs. If you’re not sure where to start, review the Unemployment Benefit Programs Flowchart (PDF).

You file for regular Unemployment Insurance if you lose your job or have your hours reduced through no fault of your own and meet all eligibility requirements.

With the current impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Continue for more information or you can visit the Federal Provisions for Unemployment.

Learn More

The federal government expanded unemployment benefits so we can help more Californians impacted by COVID-19.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a new program providing unemployment benefits for people who don’t usually qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance. 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.

You may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance if you are not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance and you are unemployed or partially unemployed for a COVID-19 reason outlined under federal law.

These claims are considered an alternative to layoffs. If your employer participates in the Work Sharing program, you could receive unemployment insurance benefits if your hours and wages have been reduced.

With Work Sharing, employees can:

  • Receive UI benefits.
  • Keep their current job.
  • Avoid financial hardships.

Learn more about the requirements, restrictions, and how to apply for or renew a Work Sharing Plan.

Partial claims are for workers whose employers want to keep them employed when there is a lack of work.

You may benefit from the Partial Claims program if you are temporarily working reduced hours or have been placed on layoff status for no more than two consecutive weeks.

Learn more about the requirements and how to file a claim.

Additional Claim Types

View additional types of claims that can be filed.

Next Steps

There are four stages in an unemployment claim. Once you qualify, you should move on to Register and Apply.

Register and Apply

Create an account with Benefits Program Online to register and apply for unemployment.


Let us know you are still eligible to receive unemployment to continue receiving your benefits.


File or reopen your claim, certify for benefits, and get up-to-date claim and payment information with UI OnlineSM.

Last Revised: 10/15/2020

Get an Estimate

Use the UI Benefit Calculator to estimate how much you may receive in unemployment.

Once you file for unemployment, we will verify your eligibility and wage information to determine your unemployment compensation and benefits.

Save Time. Apply Online.

Apply for unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, reopen an existing claim, and manage a claim – all online with Benefit Programs Online.

COVID-19 Benefits

Understand what benefits are available, how to apply, and what to expect after applying.

Additional Resources

Can’t find what you are looking for? View these resources for more information.

For Employers

Get information on layoff alternatives, preventing fraud, and more.