California unemployment now or later?
February 20, 2015 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I just got laid off at work (position eliminated) and need to file for unemployment/EDD. Three complicating factors: Wedding, severance and a freelance gig. Need advice on timing.

I got laid off last Friday, and coincidentally took a freelance grant consulting gig that lasted from Friday through Tuesday to the tune of a couple hundred bucks. I've also got a couple weeks severance.

I'm also getting married a week from Sunday (great timing all around). I'd really rather not have to deal with the EDD if I don't have to until I'm done with the family coming in, etc. especially since my "availability for work" would be dubious during that time (still looking but would have to get a fantastic offer to even think about starting before a week after the wedding).

When should I apply for EDD? Do I gain anything by waiting? Do I lose anything by waiting?
posted by klangklangston to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was laid off in Washington State about half a dozen years ago, and waited months before filing, taking a break-- some of those months were severance, plus I had a vacation payout. If you can afford it, and it's now explicitly prohibited or discouraged, wait until you're ready.

... or maybe a week before you're ready: Not sure how California is, but here, you don't get paid the first week after filing, but you still need to meet the requirements. Check whether that's the case here before you decide when to start filing. I wasn't in a bad place financially, but I didn't expect that first Bye Week. No doubt others experience it worse than I did.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:56 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

You can file online--it takes about 10 minutes. You don't have to do anything else, until your application is processed.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:59 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

File online. The first week of unemployment is unpaid. Also, the way the CA EDD works is that if you work at all doing something else, you just report those earnings, and they deduct those from the amount they pay you for that week up to the full amount of that week, so it'll likely be your regular net unemployment benefit minus the couple hundred you made from your freelance work. The earnings you haven't been paid out for that week don't count against your total claim.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 12:04 PM on February 20, 2015

Go ahead and start the process. You'll report your freelance work when you do it, and your compensation will be adjusted for, and your severance will be accounted for. Because of the severance, your benefits probably won't kick in for a couple of weeks.

But it's fine to get severance, it's fine to work when you get work, and still be in the system. It is built to handle it. And applying to three jobs takes 10-15 minutes, tops. And if you get a job, you start when you start - they don't make you go to work the next day whether the hiring company is ready for you or not.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:06 PM on February 20, 2015

In California, you can state that you were unable to work for a given number of days and they'll reduce your benefits by that amount, although it would use up one of your benefit weeks and I wouldn't suggest it. You could also simply not certify for that week which you weren't looking and then reopen your claim at a later date, which sounds like a pain. If you delay, you won't get credit for the week between now and when you get married, which seems wasteful (especially since it can sometimes take some time for UI claims to be processed).

According to CA's UI website, looking for work includes things like searching for jobs on the internet and doing basic employment research. You don't necessarily need to apply to a job. My recommendation would be to file immediately (ideally last week, but hey) and then look for work in a relatively lazy way on the internet during your honeymoon, or don't certify for that week and reapply when you come back.

Because of the severance, your benefits probably won't kick in for a couple of weeks.

This is the case in some states, but seemingly not in CA:

Severance pay is not deducted from unemployment insurance benefits and does not affect your eligibility to receive benefits. The method of payment, such as a lump sum payment or payments paid to you at regular pay period intervals does not change the nature of the payment. However, you must report severance pay at the time you file your unemployment insurance claim.

Also, congratulations on the wedding.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:16 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I found that they won't pay until you've exhausted your severance pay.

In Georgia, you only get 14 weeks of UI in any given 365 day period.

I see no issue with filing your claim after you get back from your wedding.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:28 PM on February 20, 2015

You can wait and save yourself some paperwork, but if I were you I'd start the process now, in case anything gets weird. I was on unemployment in California a little over 10 years ago. It did take me some time to get through the system, and I also had to visit their offices a few times. I picked up a bunch of freelance gigs while I was on unemployment - I just marked that I worked those weeks and didn't get paid by them. If you don't have proof of applying for jobs you also don't get paid. I *think* that $ just gets pushed forward, if I recall correctly. So while there's no harm in not filing until you're back, there's also likely no harm in starting now, but there will be a little more overhead paperwork for you to handle to explain your situation on a week to week basis until you're solidly just out there in the world looking for a job.

Good luck and congrats on your upcoming marriage! Sounds like a super crappy time for this to happen, but lots of life changes at once makes for an exciting, memorable time, here's hoping everything settles well for you, and quickly.
posted by pazazygeek at 3:52 PM on February 20, 2015

Twice I've gotten laid off, and waited a month or few to file my claim. In one case, I was in school (and thus not looking for work), and in the other, I was too sick to work.

Both times WA State didn't even blink an eye at the break, and processed things accordingly.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:50 PM on February 20, 2015

File online immediately. Severance, as long as it's not of the form "we'll keep you on the payroll, just don't come to the office" does not prevent you from being on EDD in California.

Paperwork with the EDD is just two web pages every two weeks to say either "I'm still unemployed" or "I had work for part/all of this period."
posted by zippy at 4:57 PM on February 20, 2015

Freelance work counts as self employment, right? So I'd put down my address as employer? (Both the freelance stuff I just did and stuff a couple weeks ago was for different clients… It's the stuff that happened concurrently with my previous job that I'm most confused about.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:20 PM on February 20, 2015

Thanks everyone, just filed and gave my best answers. If anyone needs a jack-of-all-communication-trades (editing, photography, writing, campaigns, etc.) let me know!
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 PM on February 20, 2015

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