COVID-19: Unemployment Insurance Claims

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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides additional details for those who have already filed a claim for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit payments because they have lost jobs or had their hours reduced due to the impacts of the Coronavirus. The EDD is processing an unprecedented demand for these benefits which cover a portion of the wages workers are losing through no fault of their own.

It takes at least three weeks to process a claim for unemployment benefits and issue payment to most eligible workers. We appreciate your patience.

Note: By law, you must have authorization to work in the US to be eligible for UI benefits.

  • For Californians who applied for UI benefits after March 15, 2020 – read the following information below about what to expect.
  • For Californians who applied for UI benefits prior to March 15, benefit payments should have already been issued to eligible workers, with the exception of those who are too ill or injured to work, or in which the EDD received information from the claimant that doesn’t match EDD wage records, or whose identity we weren’t able to verify and will require additional documentation. These situations always require more time to collect further information from the claimant and their employer.

Step 1 – Monitor Email and Postal Service for Important EDD Claim Information

The majority of recent online claim filers will receive an email message from the EDD with a subject line of “New Online Account Created.” That means your registration was automatically completed in the UI Online system. This will provide you the full functionality of the system so you can move more quickly to Step 2 and certify for your first benefit payment. For those who do not receive an email notifying you that you have been auto-registered, if you have not filed a UI claim in the past several years, you will receive your letter with an EDD Customer Account Number in the mail, which you must have to fully establish your personal UI Online account that will then provide you the full functionality of the system so you can then move to Step 2.

Note: All customers will still receive important EDD claim information in the mail about two weeks after they apply. This will include a notice telling you what our wage records indicate you could receive in weekly UI benefits. For an initial estimate of your weekly benefit amount, use our UI benefit calculator.

You may also get a mailed notice instead that indicates we need more information from you to complete processing your claim. The situations that always take this additional time to resolve include:

If the EDD is unable to verify your identity with our records, we’ll mail you a request to verify your identity. You have 10 calendar days from the mail date to send us two forms of identity documents from the list of Acceptable Documents for Identity Verification (DE 1326CD) (PDF).

Once we receive the required documents and verify your identity, you’ll receive a monetary notice telling you what our wage records show you could receive in weekly UI benefit payments and inform you of your eligibility for benefits.

Sometimes this can happen if:

  • The EDD has no record or only partial record of your wages.
  • You were misclassified by your employer as an independent contractor instead of an employee.
  • Wage information may have been inadvertently transposed when your employer reported your information to the EDD.

If you believe our record of your wages isn’t reflected accurately in the notice you receive, follow the instructions on the notice to respond to the EDD. The best way is to log in to your UI Online account and use your EDD Customer Account Number to complete your registration. Or you may receive an email message from the EDD with a subject line of “New Online Account Created” which means your registration was already automatically completed in the UI Online system. Either way, you can then select Contact Us to request we investigate your case. Provide us a brief summary of why you disagree with the notice and information about your wages.

The EDD will follow up with you and your employer for any details needed to make a determination, which may include your W-2, Form 1099, or a paycheck stub. It typically takes us a couple of weeks to collect the information, investigate, and notify you of your eligibility for benefits. You will receive a call from the EDD. Return any messages quickly, otherwise it may take longer to determine if you qualify for a UI claim.

To change your claim:

  • Write what needs to be corrected on your Notice of Award and mail it to the EDD address on the notice.
  • Visit Ask EDD to request to backdate your claim if you think it has the wrong start date. Select Unemployment Insurance Benefits, then Claim Questions, then Backdate the Effective Date of my UI Claim Due to COVID-19.
  • Submit a request through your UI Online account or call the UI Claims Support line at 1-800-300-5616 8 a.m. to 12 noon (Pacific time), Monday through Friday except state holidays.

Step 2 – Certify for Benefits

After you receive your claim package in the mail verifying your eligibility for benefits, or you received an email from the EDD notifying you that your registration has been automatically completed in UI Online, it is time for you to “certify” for your first benefit payment. Certifying is the process of answering basic questions every two weeks that tells us you’re still unemployed and otherwise eligible to continue receiving biweekly payments.

Before you complete your certification, review the certifying process (PDF) so you can understand the questions and answer them correctly. Answering questions incorrectly can delay your claim. For example, the first question asks if you were too sick or injured to work. We noticed some people answered “yes” for the whole week, which would disqualify them for benefits. When we followed up, they confirmed they weren’t sick themselves, but rather people are sick due to the coronavirus.

One of the questions asks if you're looking for work. Answer truthfully. Given the unique economic situation and lack of available work due to COVID-19, we have been able to adjust our usual eligibility requirements to automatically process more claims. You will not be penalized if you answer “No” to the question about looking for work and will be paid benefits for that week if you meet all other eligibility requirements.

To get started in certifying for benefits:

  1. Log in to your UI Online account.
  2. If prompted, enter your EDD Customer Account Number you received in the mail to complete registration in the UI Online system.
  3. Follow instructions to start certifying for your benefits.

Your first certification period will be after the first two weeks from the beginning date of your claim, which is the week when you submitted your initial claim application.

Your claim can be delayed if you answer questions incorrectly or do not answer our calls when we try to contact you. The following are some examples:

  • Too sick to work: The first question on your certification form asks, “Were you too sick or injured to work?” Answer the question based on your own health and availability to work. You must be well enough to work every day of the week to collect unemployment benefits. We noticed some people answered “yes” for the whole week, which would disqualify them for benefits. When we followed up, they confirmed they weren’t sick themselves, but rather people are sick due to the coronavirus.
  • Able and Available: The second question asks, “Was there any reason (other than sickness or injury) that you could not have accepted full-time work each workday?” You must be available for work to collect benefits. Being available means you are ready and willing to accept work even though businesses may still be closed because of COVID-19. If you are otherwise able and available to work, you should answer “no” to this question.
    If you are not available or willing to accept suitable work, you could be disqualified for benefits, unless you have good cause. Some examples of good cause are having no childcare (and you have tried other alternatives including asking for a different work schedule), being over 65 or having a serious health condition (PDF).
  • Not answering EDD calls: If there is an eligibility issue on your certification, we may have to schedule a determination interview with you. You will be notified of the date and time by mail and receive sample questions we may ask. Be ready to accept a call during the time listed on the notice. Since the call is coming from a government phone number, it may show as restricted on your phone. We will identify ourselves as an EDD representative, provide our reason for calling, and will know your customer account number.

Benefit Payment Methods

Typically, it will take about a week after your first certification to receive your first benefit payment.

If you choose to receive payments via an EDD Debit CardSM, Bank of America will mail you a card once benefit payments are available. Due to the high volume of claims being processed, it may take a few extra days to receive your EDD Debit Card in the mail.

If you received Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, or Paid Family Leave benefits on an EDD Debit Card in the last three years, you will receive your benefit payments on that card. If your card has expired, a new card will automatically be sent to you once funds are available.

Note: If you were issued a card before 2015, you must request a new one. Visit Replace My Card on Bank of America’s website or contact Bank of America at 1-866-692-9374 (TTY: 1-866-656-5913).

If you lost your EDD Debit Card, contact Bank of America as early as possible in the application process to request a replacement card before your first payment. Your new card will arrive 7 to 10 business days from the order date. You have a couple options to request a new card:

  • Visit Replace my Card on the Bank of America website.
  • Contact Bank of America at 1-866-692-9374 (TTY: 1-866-656-5913). You do not need to have your old card number or speak to a representative. Choose the Lost or Stolen option in the automated menu. The call center is experiencing higher than normal wait times and Bank of America is working to address the issue.

Note: Bank of America representatives cannot answer questions about your claim or pending payments.

Payment information is updated daily and is available through your UI Online account or by calling the UI Self-Service Phone Line at 1-866-333-4606.

For more information on the benefits of using an EDD Debit Card, delivery, activation, tracking payments, expired cards, and more, visit EDD Debit Card.

After Your First Benefit Payment

Every two weeks, you will need to certify to the EDD that you remain unemployed and otherwise eligible to continue receiving biweekly benefit payments.

Step 3 – Check Your UI Online Account

As long as you remain unemployed and eligible for benefits, log in to your UI Online account to check for updates. This includes your benefit payments and important notices including when it’s time to certify for your next two weeks of benefits.

Once you receive your EDD Debit Card, payments should be posted to your card in about three days after we receive your certification. Benefit payments by check will take an additional few day to arrive through the mail.