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Employment Development Department
Employment Development Department

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program Legal Requirements and Recommendations for Customers

En español

September 29, 2015

UI Program Legal Requirements

The UI program is an eligibility-based system where regular unemployment benefits are paid by employers. In order to receive benefits, unemployed Californians must file an initial application for benefits and then meet continuing eligibility requirements.

(1) The initial application for benefits: Once becoming fully or partially unemployed, individuals must file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) application with the EDD if they want to receive unemployment benefits. Upon receiving the application, the EDD will send the individual their first bi-weekly form to complete and submit. The EDD will review the application and that first certification form to determine if the individual meets all of the eligibility requirements.

Throughout the history of the program:

(2) The continued claim certification for ongoing benefits: If a customer is found eligible to establish a claim, the individual must submit a continued claim certification every two weeks to verify that he/she remains eligible for each week to receive continued benefits. These certifications for benefits are processed at the EDD through a separate system from the initial applications for benefits.

Our new payment processing system helps us by automatically reviewing these ongoing certifications for eligibility and forwarding eligible ones for payment without the need for staff intervention. Those certifications that are straight-forward and absent of errors can be processed and paid within a matter of days. Those that contain errors or more complex eligibility issues such as not being able to work due to an injury or illness will be forwarded to staff for review and potential clarification from the claimant. It is not unusual at all for someone to be eligible for benefits in one bi-weekly period and not the next.

Recommendations for Customers

As part of our constant evaluation to improve service through this transition, we have some helpful information and suggestions for our UI customers.

(1) Certify Online or By Phone: We strongly encourage our customers to certify for their continuing benefits online through UI OnlineSM or by phone through EDD Tele-CertSM. Currently, some of our customers send in paper forms every two weeks of their claims. This is a more time-consuming method for processing and paying your benefits. You can help expedite the processing of your certifications by submitting such forms electronically online or through the phone.

(2) Submit a Question through Ask EDD: The EDD is currently understaffed due to significant federal underfunding. If you are currently having issues or have questions about your claim, you can contact the EDD by submitting an inquiry through Ask EDD.

Special Note for UI Customers

Released in spring 2015, UI OnlineSM is a fast, convenient, and secure way for UI customers to access claim information, certify for benefits and manage their claims 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We ask for the help of our customers to use the available self-service tools whenever possible, so our limited staff can be directed to assist customers with more complex needs.

What Else Can UI Customers Do?

We are working to process all certifications received from our customers. If a customer does have a claim related question, we strongly encourage them to avoid the frustration of trying to get through to a representative by phone and instead contact the department through Ask EDD.