COVID-19 and Your Unemployment – Answers to FAQs

Last updated: 11/20/2020 | En español | COVID-19 Main Page

We are experiencing a high call volume and longer wait times on our phone lines. We appreciate your patience and understand you have questions.

Here you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) we have received about COVID-19 and unemployment.

If you have specific questions about your claim, log in to UI OnlineSM and select Contact Us at the top of the homepage.

Top Questions and Answers of the Week

Everyone uses the same application, both for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The fastest way to apply is through UI Online.

You can also apply for unemployment by phone, mail, or fax.

Monitor Email and Postal Service

You should receive an email message with the subject “New Online Account Created.” That means your registration was automatically completed in UI Online, where you can certify for your first benefit payment.

If you do not receive an email and have not filed an unemployment claim in the past several years, you will receive a letter with an EDD Customer Account Number (EDDCAN) in the mail. Use the EDDCAN to finish registering for full UI Online access.

Note: Regardless of how you file, you will receive important EDD information in the mail about two weeks after applying. This includes a notice telling you what you could receive in weekly payments, if eligible.

Certify for Benefits

After completing UI Online registration, you must “certify” for your first benefit payment. Certifying is answering basic questions every two weeks that tells us you’re still unemployed and eligible to continue receiving payments. It is required to receive unemployment.

You will receive an email and a reminder on your UI Online account homepage when you log in if there are weeks you need to certify for. We have video tutorials in four different languages to help you complete this legally required step so you can keep collecting unemployment benefits.

Note: If you have not looked for work, you will still be paid benefits for that week if you meet all other eligibility requirements.

Visit COVID-19: Unemployment Claims for complete details about steps to take after filing your claim.

If you are filing a new claim for unemployment, you can use to verify your identity in UI Online. View the updated UI Online: File a New Claim (You Tube) or visit Filing an Unemployment Claim for more information.

If you have already filed a claim for unemployment and need to verify your identity, visit your UI Online homepage and select Upload Identity Documents. You will only see this option if there has been an issue verifying your identity.

If your EDD Debit CardSM is frozen and you need to upload documents to verify your identity, review Why is my EDD Debit Card frozen?

You can also send us documents by mail. Visit Verify Your Identity to learn more.

If you have used all benefits on your regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim or your claim has expired and you do not qualify for a new claim, you may be eligible for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extension. If you use all benefits in your PEUC extension, you may qualify for a FED-ED Extension.

Review the Unemployment Benefit Programs Flowchart (PDF) for information about extension benefits that may be available to you.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

PEUC provides an additional 13 weeks of payments if you’ve used all of your available UI benefits. The extension is available from March 29, 2020, until December 26, 2020. To qualify, your claim must have started on July 8, 2018, or after. Depending on when you filed your UI claim and if it has expired, you may need to reapply. Visit Federal CARES Act Provisions for Unemployment to learn more.

FED-ED Extension

The FED-ED extension began on May 10, 2020. It will be available until California’s unemployment rate drops to a certain level. If you are eligible, we will automatically file your FED-ED extension after you collect all benefits on the PEUC extension. For more information, review FED-ED Extension.

The best way to reopen a claim is by logging in to your Benefits Program Online account and using UI Online. If you certified for benefits within the last 120 days, you can continue certifying on your current claim. You don’t need to certify for weeks you worked, select the week you became unemployed or had your hours reduced.

If it has been more than 120 days, you can reopen an unemployment claim online, by phone, or by mail. View UI Online: Reopen your claim (YouTube) to learn more. Reopening a claim online is a shorter process than the original application for benefits. In most cases, we can automatically reopen a claim within a few days to a week.

You must be able to and available for work to collect benefits. If you don’t meet this requirement, we will follow up with you to see if you’re eligible. Once your claim is reopened, you must certify every two weeks to receive benefits.

We may request that you provide documents to prove your 2019 income for your Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claim. You can submit these documents using UI Online or by mail. Visit Income Documentation to learn more.

Note: You must submit these documents within 21 days from the date of the email or mailed notice from the EDD. If you are not able to provide proof of income, we may decrease your payments and you may have to repay the difference for any weeks you were paid more than $167.

We may send emails and text messages with instructions about how to reach the EDD with any required information or asking you to check your UI Online account. We will not reach out on social media about your claim or debit card. You should never share your personal information on social media channels or unofficial websites.

If you provide your phone number when applying for unemployment, we send texts messages with updates about your unemployment claim. Texts are sent from 510-74 or 918-06 to the phone number you included on your unemployment claim.

You may receive a text when:

Visit Text Alerts for Unemployment Claims for more information.

If your account is frozen and you can’t use your EDD Debit Card or access funds, we may need to verify your identity to continue paying you unemployment benefits. If so, you should receive an email, text message, or mailed notice requesting identity verification documents. We strongly recommend that you log in to UI Online and use the upload documents option from the homepage for the fastest processing possible. Once verified, you’ll continue receiving benefits.

If you can’t upload your documents online, you can mail in copies of the required documents to:

Employment Development Department
Attn: Bank of America
PO Box 2530
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-2530

Important: If you don’t provide your identity verification documents, we may end your benefit payments. If this happens, you will receive a notice with information about how to appeal.

If you can’t access funds on your EDD Debit Card or funds have been reduced and you have not received any messages from the EDD, it’s likely that Bank of America has frozen or suspended the card. This may be due to suspected fraudulent, unauthorized or unlawful activities involved with the EDD Debit Card or a suspect transaction. In this case, the EDD does not need to verify your identity and suggests that you contact Bank of America. We do not have direct access to withdraw funds on any accounts. While debits may appear as having been debited by EDD, the funds were debited by Bank of America.

Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments are for weeks of unemployment between July 26 and September 5, 2020.

If you indicated that you were unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 when filing for unemployment, you will automatically receive LWA payments. No further action is needed.

If you did not indicate that you were unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 when you filed for unemployment, you must provide a one-time self-certification. We will contact you using UI Online, as well as by email, text, or mailed notice asking you to provide the information needed to process your payments. We cannot issue payments until we receive your self-certification. 

How You Will Receive Payment

We will add LWA payments to your regular unemployment benefit amount for any eligible weeks.

  • You will receive payments based on when you certified for unemployment benefits. Payments may be lumped together or come as separate $300 payments.
  • If you were not paid for any weeks due to excessive earnings, being fully employed, or disqualification, you will not receive an LWA payment for those weeks.

Note: You will be paid by EDD Debit CardSM or checks in the mail based on how you’ve received past benefit payments.

Yes, you have the right to appeal the EDD’s decision to reduce or deny you benefits. You must submit your appeal in writing within 30 days of the mailing date on the Notice of Determination and/or Ruling (DE 1080CZ).

Download the Appeal Form (DE 1000M) (PDF) or use the copy included with your Notice of Determination. If you don’t have a copy of the Appeal Form (DE 1000M), or cannot print a copy, you can write a letter to the EDD to notify the Department you want to appeal the decision to reduce or deny you benefits.

For more information on how to file and what happens after you file, visit Unemployment Insurance Appeals.

If you are receiving mail or text messages from the EDD, and you didn’t file for unemployment, this could be evidence of fraud. Visit Fraud and Penalties: What You Need to Know to learn about reporting fraud and the actions we are taking to prevent fraudulent claims from being paid.

If you receive mail from the EDD that doesn’t belong to you, we encourage you to do one of the following:

  • Send it to EDD PO Box 826880, MIC 43, Sacramento, CA 94280-0225.
  • Write “Return to Sender” on the envelope and give it to your mail carrier.
    • Envelopes with EDD debit cards, which are sent on behalf of Bank of America from an address in Tennessee, can also be returned to sender.
  • Instead of throwing them away, destroy the items to help us make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are now available for workers, business owners, and self-employed people whose jobs or businesses have been impacted by the wildfires. DUA benefits are for people who do not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, FED-ED extensions, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.

The fastest way to apply for DUA benefits is with UI Online. Refer to EDD Disaster-Related Services for details and specific county information. We will review your claim to confirm if you qualify for DUA or for one of our other benefit programs.

Unemployment Insurance

Find out if you’re eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and get answers to common questions about claims.

Visit UI FAQs
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

If you don’t qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance, you may be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

Visit PUA FAQs
Disability or Paid Family Leave Benefits

Learn what benefits are available if you are sick or caring for a family member.


Get information about the temporary suspensions to the WARN Act and what EDD services can help navigate your business operations.

Visit Employer FAQs

Still Need Help?

Find the latest updates and changes in effect due to COVID-19, including what benefits are available, how to apply, and what to expect after applying.