Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) FAQs

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The following information provides you general guidance as to what programs are available and what situations may be applicable to your circumstances. We encourage you to apply for the program you believe best fits your needs and the EDD will determine your eligibility for benefits.


Disability or Paid Family Leave Benefits

If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 and if you have the necessary supporting medical documentation, you are encouraged to file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Most California workers are covered by DI through deductions from their paychecks (noted as “CASDI” on most paystubs).

The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

To be eligible for Disability Insurance (DI) benefits, you must submit certain medical documentation. This requirement can be met by a medical certification signed by a treating physician or a practitioner that includes a diagnosis and ICD-10 code, or if no diagnosis has been obtained, a statement of symptoms; the start date of the condition; its probable duration; and the treating physician’s or practitioner’s license number or facility information. This requirement can also be met by a written order from a state or local health officer that is specific to you.

Telehealth and virtual appointments are acceptable for a physical examination, but medical certifications are still required.

For fastest processing of your claim, submit your claim online and have your supporting medical documentation submitted online immediately after.

You may also request that the EDD send you a Claim for Disability Insurance (DI) Benefits (DE 2501) (PDF) form, which can be ordered online and sent to you. Submit the completed form to the EDD using the envelope provided. If your medical documentation is provided in any other form other than EDD’s designated claim form, it should be submitted separately by mail to:

Employment Development Department
PO Box 10402
Van Nuys, CA 91410-0402

Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. The EDD provides a Disability Insurance Calculator to estimate your potential benefit amount. Disability benefits are paid through the date your doctor certifies or when you exhaust your available benefits, whichever comes first within a 52-week period.

The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

Yes, if your quarantine is certified by a medical professional or a state or local health officer. If you are not found eligible for DI, you are encouraged to apply for an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim.

For more information, refer to What benefits are available if I am subject to quarantine, am not ill, and am not found eligible for a Disability Insurance claim?

If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19, you are encouraged to file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks, this extends to eight weeks starting July 1, 2020, of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. For the purposes of PFL coverage, a family member is defined as seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.

To be eligible for PFL benefits, you must submit certain medical documentation regarding the family member in your care who is either ill or quarantined due to COVID-19. This requirement can be met by a medical certification for that person from a treating physician or a practitioner that includes a diagnosis and ICD-10 code, or if no diagnosis has been obtained, a statement of symptoms; the start date of the condition; its probable duration; and the treating physician’s or practitioner’s license number or facility information. This requirement can also be met by a written order from a state or local health officer that is specific to your family member’s situation. Absent those documents from a physician or health officer, you may be eligible for an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim instead.

Learn more about benefits available if you’re not eligible for PFL.

Telehealth and virtual appointments are acceptable for a physical examination, but medical certifications are still required.

For fastest processing of your claim, submit your claim online  and have the supporting medical documentation submitted online immediately after. 

You may also request that the EDD send you a Claim for Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits (DE 2501F) (PDF) form, which can be ordered online and sent to you. Submit the completed form to the EDD using the envelope provided. If your medical documentation is provided in any other form other than the EDD’s designated claim form, it should be submitted separately by mail to:

Employment Development Department
PO Box 45011
Fresno, CA 93718-5011

Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. You can use the Paid Family Leave Calculator to help estimate your potential benefit amount.

If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

If you are self-employed, you may have benefits available from the EDD employment insurance programs that you or your employer may have paid into over the past 5 to 18 months. You may have contributions from a prior job, or it’s possible you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

We encourage you to file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim if you are sick or quarantined. If you are caring for an ill or medically quarantined family member, file a Paid Family Leave claim. Our EDD representatives will review your case and determine your eligibility for benefits. For fastest processing of your claim, submit your claim online.

If you believe you are misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, you should list the business you contract with as your last employer. Be sure to include:

  • The employer name, phone number, and address.
  • Type of work performed.
  • Dates worked.
  • Your gross wages and how you were paid (such as hourly or weekly).

You may also be eligible for benefits if you pay into Disability Insurance Elective Coverage (DIEC). DIEC is an option for self-employed people (such as independent contractors) and employers to apply for coverage under State Disability Insurance (SDI). This includes school district and state employees who are exempt from SDI, but can negotiate to participate in the DIEC. Visit Self-Employed/Independent Contractor to learn more.

You may have benefits available through other insurance programs that your employer have paid into in the past 5 to 18 months. California law allows your employer to offer you a Voluntary Plan option instead of the SDI program. You should check with your employer’s personnel or benefits office about filing a Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave.

You also may have contributions from a prior job in the past 5 to 18 months, or it’s possible you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

If you believe you are misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, you should list the business you contract with as your last employer. Be sure to include:

  • The employer name, phone number, and address.
  • Type of work performed.
  • Dates worked.
  • Your gross wages and how you were paid (such as hourly or weekly).

Yes. Physicians and practitioners are still “seeing” patients when they use virtual platforms. Virtual appointments are acceptable for a physical examination, but medical certifications are still required.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

You are encouraged to apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits if you are unemployed, which includes reasons such as:

  • Your hours are reduced due to the quarantine.
  • You were separated from your employer during the quarantine.
  • You are subject to a quarantine required by a medical professional or state or local health officer.

You can be eligible for benefits if you have enough earnings over the past 12-18 months and meet other eligibility criteria. The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

EDD representatives may need to set up a phone interview with you to collect more details.

If you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or gig worker and are unable to work or have had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits under a few different scenarios:

  • You chose to contribute to UI Elective Coverage and paid the required contributions to be considered potentially eligible for benefits.
  • Your past employer made contributions on your behalf over the past 5 to 18 months.
  • You may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

When filing for your UI claim, you will be asked for your last employer.

  • If you own your business or are self-employed, you should list yourself as your last employer.
  • If you are an independent contractor, you should list yourself as your last employer.
  • If you believe you are misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, you should list the business you contract with as your last employer. Be sure to include:
    • The employer name, phone number, and address.
    • Type of work performed.
    • Dates worked.
    • Your gross wages and how you were paid (such as hourly or weekly).
  • If you are a gig worker, you should list your gig employer as your last employer.

Generally, a mailed notice showing a $0 benefit award available may mean that we have no wage records reported by an employer to support an unemployment claim, or we need to verify your identity for the reported wages that belong to you. Employers pay a contribution to the state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund for each employee they have on their payroll. This pays for unemployment benefits — workers do not contribute to UI.

If you filed for UI and received an award notice with $0 benefits available, it could be due to one of three scenarios:

  • If we are 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 verify your identity, you’ll receive a new notice telling you what our wage records show for weekly UI benefit payments if you meet all other eligibility requirements.
  • You were misclassified by your employer as an independent contractor instead of an employee or your 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 correct, follow the instructions on the notice to respond to the EDD. We 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.
  • You’re self-employed or an independent contractor and have not paid contributions to the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. As part of the federal CARES Act, the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians who are usually not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits and are unemployed or not providing services due to reasons directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including business owners, the self-employed or those with limited recent work history. Visit the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance page for updates and information on eligibility and when to file.

You can be eligible for benefits if you choose to stay home. Once you file your claim, the EDD will contact you if we need more information.

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Our EDD representatives will determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis by scheduling a phone interview with you. For example, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if your employer has temporarily allowed you to work less than full-time hours due to your child care situation. In such case, you may be eligible for reduced benefits based on the amount of your weekly earnings, as long as you meet all other eligibility requirements. The EDD will contact you and your employer for information to determine your eligibility.

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Our EDD representatives will determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis by scheduling a phone interview with you.

If your employer reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you are encouraged to file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able, available, and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria.

Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week. Depending on your maximum award for your UI claim and your weekly benefit amounts paid, the number of weeks you can potentially receive benefit payments ranges from 13 to 26 weeks if you are paid at your full weekly benefit amount for each of those weeks. Your payments could stretch to a longer duration if you perform some work for pay or if you receive other deductible income during the course of a claim, and you receive reduced unemployment benefits as a result during those weeks.

You can use the Unemployment Insurance Calculator to help estimate your potential weekly benefit amount.

The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

Working your full normal hours remotely would not qualify you for benefits. However, you could collect some Unemployment Insurance benefits if your usual number of work hours are reduced through no fault of your own. The first $25 or 25 percent of your wages, whichever is the greater amount, is not counted as wages earned and will not be reduced from your UI weekly benefit amount. For example, if you earned $100 in a week, the Department would not count $25 as wages and would only deduct $75 from your weekly benefit amount. For someone who has a weekly benefit amount of $450, they would be paid a reduced amount of $375.

You have the right to apply and file a claim for unemployment and disability benefits at the same time, but you can only collect payments under one benefit program at a time. You’re encouraged to file a claim under one program based on your circumstances or file under both programs if you are unsure of which program is most appropriate. The EDD will review the facts and determine your eligibility for the appropriate program.

Yes. If your employer shuts down operations or reduces hours for workers while you are on your disability claim, you may apply for unemployment benefits at that time. The EDD will help determine the start of your Unemployment Insurance claim as long as you meet all other eligibility requirements.

Yes. If you become sick while you are out of work, you can apply for a disability claim, which can provide a higher benefit amount if you’re eligible. A medical certification is required to substantiate your illness. If you are approved for a Disability Insurance claim, your Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim will be suspended. If you recover but remain unemployed, you may then return to the remainder of your UI claim benefits as long as you remain out of work and are otherwise eligible. You will need to reapply to reopen your UI claim.

Yes. If you have a family member who becomes sick while you are out of work, you can apply for a Paid Family Leave claim which can provide a higher benefit amount if you’re eligible. A medical certification is required to substantiate your family member’s illness. If you are approved for a Paid Family Leave claim, your Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim will be suspended. If you complete your Paid Family Leave claim and remain unemployed, you may then return to the remainder of your UI claim benefits as long as you remain out of work and otherwise eligible. You will need to reapply to reopen your UI claim.

You should answer the question truthfully. Given the unique economic situation and lack of available work created by COVID-19, the EDD has been able to adjust our usual eligibility requirements to allow us to automatically process a large volume of 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.

Employer Information

Visit COVID-19: WARN FAQs for information about the WARN Act and the temporary suspension of its 60-day notice requirement.

If COVID-19 has impacted your business or services, you can avoid potential layoffs by participating in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Work Sharing Program. This program allows you to retain your workers by reducing their hours and wages no more than 60 percent and partially offsetting the wage loss with UI benefits. This helps you avoid the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers and helps your workers keep their jobs and receive some financial support with UI benefits. You and your workers can also be prepared to quickly adjust when business improves.

Your workers can file for unemployment benefits as long as they are unemployed and otherwise eligible. Workers who expect to return to work for you within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week as long as they are able and available to return to work during their unemployment and meet all other eligibility criteria. The EDD will explain the requirements to your workers when they apply for benefits.

If you are facing potential layoffs or plant closures, you can get help through the Rapid Response program. Rapid Response teams will meet with you to discuss your needs, help avoid layoffs where possible, and support your workers through the process. Services can include upgrades to current worker skills, customized training, career counseling, job search assistance, help with filing unemployment insurance claims, and information about education and training opportunities. For more information, refer to Rapid Response Services for Businesses Fact Sheet (DE 87144RRB) (PDF). You can also contact your local America’s Job Center of California for more information about available Rapid Response services.

With the Governor’s emergency declaration, if your business is directly affected by COVID-19, you can request up to a 60-day extension to file your state payroll reports and deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. The written request for extension, noting the impact of COVID-19, must be received within 60 days from the original delinquent date of the payment or return. For the address to send the request, along with other information, please see the State of Emergency or Disaster Fact Sheet (DE 231SED) (PDF).

You can also call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center with any questions you may have about your payroll tax responsibilities.

  • Toll-free from the US or Canada: 1-888-745-3886
  • TTY: 1-800-547-9565
  • Outside the US or Canada: 1-916-464-3502

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidance for Business and Employers includes basic precautions like proper handwashing and cleaning, as well as making sure your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance. Visit Cal/OSHA Guidance on Coronavirus to learn more about workplace requirements.

Visit the main COVID-19 webpage for more information and resources.

Updated: April 10, 2020