Federal CARES Act Provisions for Unemployment

En español

COVID-19 main page


COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits Guide

The federal CARES Act has added these provisions to expand unemployment benefits so we can help more Californians impacted by COVID-19:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

You may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if you are not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) and you are unemployed or partially unemployed for a COVID-19 reason permissible under federal law. 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.
  • People who are serving false statement penalty weeks on their regular UI claim.

There are up to 46 weeks of benefits available to eligible workers, which can be backdated to February 2, 2020 and available until December 31, 2020. PUA launched with up to 39 weeks of benefits and an extra seven weeks was recently added. However, you may receive fewer than 46 weeks of PUA benefits if:

  • You previously collected regular UI and extended UI benefits (not including PEUC benefits). We will subtract these weeks from the 39 total weeks of your PUA claim.
  • Your unemployment or partial unemployment is no longer due to a COVID-19 reason.
  • The PUA program is no longer available (for weeks of unemployment after December 31).

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

Usually, you can only collect up to 26 weeks of regular state Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits within a 12-month benefit year. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides an additional 13 weeks of payments if you’ve used all of your available UI benefits.

To qualify for a PEUC extension, you must:

  • Be fully or partially unemployed March 29, 2020, or after.
  • Have used all benefits on your claim that started July 8, 2018, or after.
  • Not qualify for a regular UI claim in California or any other state.
  • Meet all UI eligibility requirements.

The PEUC extension is available until December 31, 2020. To make benefits available as quickly as possible, we are implementing the extension in two phases:

Phase 1

On May 27, we began reviewing regular UI claims for benefit years that started on or after June 2, 2019, and that have used all available benefits. If you are not eligible for a new UI claim, we will automatically file a PEUC extension on your last UI claim.

You should get a notice by mail 5-7 business days after we file your PEUC extension with more information. For faster updates and to certify for benefits, check your UI OnlineSM account inbox.

Phase 2

Beginning July 8, we will start mailing notices to people who used all of their regular UI benefits, whose claims expired between July 6, 2019 and May 23, 2020, and who have not filed a new claim.

  • If you have enough wages to qualify for a new claim, we will process your claim. You will need to certify your eligibility every two weeks to keep receiving regular UI payments.
  • If you don’t qualify for a new claim, you will get a $0 award notice in the mail. Within a few days, you will get another notice showing that we automatically filed a PEUC extension for you. The notice will include the weeks that you need to certify for. You can also check your UI Online account for updates.

If you qualify and your extension is filed in phase two, it will be backdated to one of the following, whichever comes later:

  • March 29, 2020
  • The last certification date of your expired claim


After your extension is filed, you will need to certify for benefit payments. Certifying is answering basic questions every two weeks that tells us you’re still unemployed and eligible to continue receiving payments. Payments will be the same as the weekly benefit amount from your regular UI claim.

If you have a PUA claim, you cannot collect PEUC at the same time. If you filed a PUA claim because you used all your UI benefits, we will stop your PUA claim as of March 29, and will transfer you automatically to a PEUC claim. If you still have false statement penalty weeks on your regular UI claim, you are not eligible for PEUC and you will continue on the PUA claim.

FED-ED Extension

If you use all your PEUC benefits, you may qualify for a FED-ED extension.

Pandemic Additional Compensation

If you have a regular UI, PUA claim, or a PEUC extension between March 29 and July 25, 2020, the EDD is paying an additional $600 in federal stimulus funds on top of your current weekly benefit amount. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You do not need to do anything. We will automatically add the $600 to each week of benefits that you are eligible to receive.
  • The additional $600 is for all approved claims and extensions with weeks available for benefits between March 29 and July 25, 2020.

Note: Unless the federal government extends the $600 payments, we cannot pay the extra amount for any weeks after July 25, 2020. Any unemployment benefits through July 25 will still be eligible for the extra $600, even if you are paid later.