"We are seeing certainly an unprecedented demand for these benefits, more of a sudden slam of demand, as you can well imagine," said Loree Levy, spokesperson for the EDD. "So for that reason, we have got all hands on deck here at the EDD, trying to do everything we can to streamline the processing of these claims."
EDD staff is working overtime, planning to hire more employees and "trying a number of creative solutions," to help process the influx of claims, according to Levy.
How to File for Unemployment in California
Californians who may be missing work because of the novel coronavirus can now apply for benefits through the state's EDD. Specific policies instituted as a result of the coronavirus can be seen here (also available in Spanish). The department is providing workers and caregivers various options to collect payment.
Sick or quarantined Californians who are unable to work as a result of the virus can file a disability insurance claim online.
If you're unable to work because you're taking care of a sick or quarantined relative with COVID-19, you can file a paid family leave claim, according to EDD.
Those who have had reduced hours or have lost their job due to their employer shutting down operations, can file an unemployment insurance claim.
It typically takes three weeks for EDD to process a claim and issue a payment, but Levy said this timeframe is changing on a daily basis. EDD plans to keep Californians informed as the situation evolves.
EDD encourages Californians to check the COVID-19 resources page for developments.
General Eligibility Requirements for California
When filing for unemployment, you must have earned a certain threshold of wages to establish a claim, and be:
- Totally or partially unemployed
- Unemployed through no fault of your own
- Physically able to work
- Available for work
- Ready and willing to accept work immediately
- Actively looking for work
In addition, according to EDD, you must continually meet eligibility requirements — meaning on a weekly basis you must continually prove the points above.
The federal government is allowing new options for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits related to COVID-19. For example, federal law now allows states to pay benefits where:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work.
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over.
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
- In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.
Trump signed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill into law on March 27, which includes $260 billion to ramp up the unemployment insurance program. The package raises the weekly benefit by $600 and expands coverage to four months. This includes previously ineligible groups, such as those who are self-employed, freelancers or work in the gig economy.