If you were recently fired or laid off from your job, you might be wondering if you qualify for unemployment benefits.
In California, workers who lose their job involuntarily through no fault of their own may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
Note: If you were unlawfully fired due to discrimination, harassment or retaliation, there are legal routes available to seek compensation. A California wrongful termination lawyer can help you explore your options.
Below are some frequently asked questions about filing for unemployment in California:
1. Who Can Qualify for Unemployment Benefits in the State of California?
While the unemployment insurance program is meant to help people while they search for a new job, not everyone qualifies. The California Employment Development Department (EDD) has specific eligibility requirements that you must meet before they send you a weekly check. The basic eligibility requirements are:
- You are physically able and available to work.
- You are ready and willing to accept work immediately
- You are actively looking for work every week
- You are totally or partially unemployed. You could get unemployment benefits if you were laid off. But what if you were reduced from full-time to part-time? In certain situations, you may still qualify for unemployment benefits.
- You have lost your job or are unemployed through “no fault of your own.” You might be denied unemployment benefits if you were “discharged” for misconduct connected with your most recent work.
- You earned enough wages during your base period to establish a claim. This is quite complex, but the EDD wants to ensure that you have earned enough wages during a specific 12-month period and the quarters they are in to justify paying unemployment benefits to you. There are two types of base periods -standard and alternate.
2. Do You Get Unemployment Benefits if You Quit Your Job?
According to the California Unemployment Insurance Code section 1256, you may be ineligible for unemployment benefits if you left your most recent work voluntarily without good cause.
But what does good cause mean? The California Code of Regulations implies that good cause exists when a substantial motivating factor causing an employee to leave their work is real and compelling. Above all, you must convince the Adjudicator that your reasons for leaving work are legitimate.
3. How Much Money Can You Get? And, For How Long?
Weekly benefits range from a minimum of $40 to a maximum of $450 per week. The weekly and total benefits you can claim are based on the wages you earned during the base period of your claim. You can get an estimate of your potential unemployment weekly amount using the UI online calculator.
Also, you are likely to receive unemployment insurance for twenty-six weeks, but this number varies and is based on your earnings during the base period.
4. How Can You File an Unemployment Claim?
You can file for unemployment benefits in California via a phone call, mail, or on the EDD website.
Filing online is the fastest way to submit and receive a response to your claims.
When filing for unemployment benefits, you’ll need to provide the following information:
- Full Name (including all previous names)
- Mailing address and an active phone number
- Social Security Number or a Valid Driver’s License
- A detailed list of your employment history in the last 18 months. Your employment history must contain the address and name of your employers, dates, hourly rates, gross wage, and the reason why you are no longer working.
5. Why the EDD May Deny Your Unemployment Claims?
If the EDD rejects your unemployment claims, you will receive a determination notice. The determination notice will clearly explain the reasons behind the denial and how you can file an appeal.
Some of the reasons why the EDD may deny your employment claims include:
- Fired for misconduct or disciplinary reasons
- Quitting your last job
- Refusing to accept new suitable jobs
- Failing to meet the required earnings in a base period
6. When Can You Appeal an EDD Denial of Your Unemployment Claim?
If your claim for unemployment benefits is denied, you have up to 30 days to submit an appeal to the California EDD. You may file your appeal via mail to the return address shown on the determination notice. After you file for an appeal, the Office of the Appeal will send you a notice of hearing at least ten days in advance. The notice will include the date, location, and time of the hearing. It is essential that you clearly state in your appeal why you believe you should receive unemployment benefits with credible evidence.
Most importantly, during the appeal process, you should continue to file for unemployment claims, search for jobs, and keep a track record of your job search.