How to Apply for Unemployment in California
By: Employment Attorney John F. McCarthy

How to Apply for Unemployment in California

Applying for unemployment insurance in California is meant to be relatively easy for people who have lost jobs through no fault of their own. You will not find many attorneys who handle unemployment claims. The Employment Development Department (EDD) likes to keep things informal. Attorneys, showing up in suits, do not keep things informal. Honestly, you probably do not need an attorney. But you could probably use a guide. Here you can buy a User’s Guide to California Unemployment Insurance, designed to help you understand how much you’re entitled to, how to apply for benefits, how to appeal a decision against you, and how to ensure continuing benefits. It is $14.95 and goes into much greater detail than what’s here. But hopefully this is enough to get you through.

How does the EDD calculate my benefits?

The EDD has tables they look at to calculate benefits. They also have a handle benefits calculator here: It is based off your past earnings. You can get between $40-450 each week.

How do I know if I am eligible for unemployment?

When filing for unemployment insurance benefits, you must have earned enough wages during the base period to establish a claim (see above), and be:

  • Totally or partially unemployed.
  • Unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • Physically able to work.
  • Available for work.
  • Ready and willing to accept work immediately.

If you quit, or get fired, the EDD will schedule a phone interview to discuss your claim. 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.

How do I apply for unemployment?

You should file your claim as soon as you lose your job, or your hours are reduced.

You will need:

  • Last employer information including company name, supervisor’s name, address (mailing and physical location) and phone number.
  • Last date worked and the reason you are no longer working.
  • Gross earnings in the last week you worked, beginning with Sunday and ending with your last day of work.
  • Information on all employers you worked for during the past 18 months, including name, address (mailing and physical location), the dates of employment, gross wages earned, hours worked per week, hourly rate of pay, and the reason you are no longer working.
  • Notice to Federal Employees About Unemployment Insurance, Standard Form 8 (former federal employees only).
  • DD 214 Member 4 copy (ex-military only).
  • Citizenship status, and, if you are not a US citizen, information from your employment authorization document.

UI online is the fastest way to file:

What happens after I file my unemployment claim?

You will receive these documents in the mail within two weeks of filing your claim:

If the EDD needs additional information you may be scheduled for a phone interview. You will be notified of the date and time by mail and receive sample questions the interviewer may ask. Contact UI if you need to reschedule your phone interview. If you miss the interview, they will probably deny your claim.

What if I get denied unemployment benefits?

If you get denied unemployment benefits, you will need to file an appeal and proceed to an unemployment hearing with the EDD.

How do I make sure I keep getting benefits?

To continue receiving unemployment, you must “certify for benefits” every two weeks. You must continue to mee the EDD’s eligibility requirements.

If you need a little extra help, you should check out the User’s Guide to California Unemployment Insurance. If you need a little extra help after that, you can schedule a consultation. Of course, if you are applying for unemployment, you might have been wrongfully terminated, or not paid appropriately. While we do not typically handle unemployment claims, we do represent employees in harassment, discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, wrongful termination, unpaid overtime, meal and rest period, and other wage and hour violations, on a contingency fee basis. We offer a completely free, completely confidential case evaluation form. The case evaluation form goes directly to John’s inbox. John typically reviews and responds to every case evaluation form within 24-48 hours, even on weekends. If we think we can help you John might ask you for more information or want to schedule a consultation. If we decide we are not able to help you, we still want to provide you with resources to help you understand your rights, find an attorney, and even do it yourself. What do you have to lose? You can start the free case evaluation here:

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McCarthy Law

516 West Shaw Ave, Suite 200
Fresno, CA 93704
(559) 470-0900 Email McCarthy Law