Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance in California

Eligibility for unemployment in California is based primarily upon your current unemployment status and what caused that unemployment. You may be wondering, “What are the requirements to get unemployment benefits?” if you are interested in applying for financial benefits after a loss of employment. Unemployment insurance eligibility varies by state since the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program is operated and managed by each state with federal guidance and oversight. To meet the qualifications for unemployment, you want to make sure you thoroughly research the program and the requirements for applying. Finding out who qualifies for unemployment can help make your application process as easy as possible. Read our comprehensive guide on Unemployment Insurance for full eligibility and application details, for links to relevant forms and for financial details so you know exactly what you can receive in benefits amounts. You can learn about eligibility for EDD (Employment Development Department) benefits by reviewing the details in this article below.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in California?

To be eligible for unemployment insurance in CA, you must first be currently unemployed or working reduced hours due to a lack of work form your employer, sometimes called partial unemployment. For full unemployment, you cannot qualify for unemployment benefits until you have worked your last day at your last job. Beyond the unemployment requirement, the cause of that unemployment also factors into your qualifications. Eligibility for California unemployment requires that you be unemployed through no fault of your own. Therefore, you might not meet unemployment eligibility requirements if you quit or were fired from a job. You will be scheduled for a phone interview to fully explain your situation if you were fired or if you quit from previous employment. You might still qualify for unemployment insurance benefits if you had good cause to quit, and if you first sought alternative options (such as asking for a transfer or for a leave of absence). Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Other qualifications for unemployment include receiving the minimum amount of wages from your employer(s), being able and available to work and actively seeking employment. If you do not meet these eligibility requirements for unemployment, you might instead qualify for workers’ compensation or other benefits programs.

Who qualifies for unemployment in California?

The California unemployment insurance program has a financial requirement to be eligible for benefits. To determine your eligibility for unemployment in California, you will calculate your wages over what is called the base period. The base period is the first four of the previous five calendar quarters prior to your unemployment claim. Calendar quarters begin in January and include three months per quarter.

To meet the financial eligibility for unemployment in California, you had to have earned at least $1,300 in your highest earning quarter of your base period. Alternatively, your eligibility for unemployment can be based on your earning $900 in your highest base period quarter, with your total base period earnings being 1.25 times your high quarter earnings. You can download our comprehensive guide for information on unemployment insurance benefits.

Eligibility for EDD unemployment benefits is based on the basic unemployment requirements, financial requirements and the work-search requirements. You must prove your unemployment eligibility throughout your claim period and your records could be audited for up to two years after your claim, so it is important to track your eligibility and to maintain that documentation as proof. This includes proof of your financial status as well as proof of your search for new full-time employment.

Work-Search Unemployment Eligibility Requirements in California

Another major California unemployment eligibility requirement is the work-search requirement. While receiving unemployment benefits in California, you are required to be actively seeking full-time employment. Any hours worked during a claim period must be reported to the EDD, but part time work does not necessarily disqualify you from receiving unemployment benefit eligibility. The benefits are designed to assist you financially while you seek full-time employment, even if you currently have part-time employment.

EDD eligibility requirements require that you register with the EDD Workforce Services, called CalJOBS, after completing the application process. CalJOBS can assist you with your job contacts and with ensuring that you properly log them to provide proof of your job search. Maintaining your unemployment insurance eligibility requires you to make a number of job contacts during each claim week. Your specific required number might be lower if you are undergoing training.

To prove your eligibility for unemployment benefits and that you are meeting this work-search requirement, you should log all of your job search activities, including the following for every single job contact:

  • What role you applied for
  • How you applied for the job
  • Who you contacted with your application (include verifiable contact information like an email address or phone number)
  • What happened as a result of your application

These eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance are designed to encourage you to seek and find new employment. Eligibility for unemployment also grants you access to work search and training resources through EDD, so be sure to take advantage and get assistance with your applications, with interview preparations and with learning new applicable skills.

Proving Unemployment Eligibility

Proving your continued eligibility for California unemployment benefits is simple after you meet the basic requirements during the application process. The qualifications for unemployment remain throughout the time you claim benefits, meaning that you must still be totally or mostly unemployed, that you must be actively seeking work and that you must be ready, willing and able to work.

Remember that proving that you meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment requires you to log your work-search efforts with full details of your job contacts. Part of how to qualify for unemployment is your proactive job search in trying to find full-time employment once again. You might still meet eligibility requirements for EDD even if you find part-time employment, but you should confirm with the EDD about eligibility. Just never forget to report any and all hours worked when you submit an unemployment claim.

Finally, another eligibility requirement for EDD is that you complete and submit a Continued Claim Form every two weeks per the calendar provided in order to receive benefits payments. Your unemployment insurance eligibility must be proven every time you make a claim for benefits, so you are required to submit that completed form in order to receive payment. There is no automated payment, so you must proactively make a claim biweekly. If and when you obtain full-time employment, you can simply stop submitting your Continued Claim Form.