Explain California Unemployment Benefits.. (to me like I'm a 5yo)
April 15, 2016 12:31 PM   Subscribe

So I'm about to be laid off, I think. And I've never dealt with unemployment (I'm lucky) before. So what are some important things to know? I have some basic questions: 1) How long do the benefits last? 2) If I get a job offer, do I have to take the first one -- even if I expect better offers later? 3) Should I end any/all freelance work while getting EDD benefits?

Experiences with California's system would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
posted by lostguy to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
California has a pretty good, plain-language FAQ page that answers a lot of questions very clearly. Are there questions you still have after reading through those?
posted by brainmouse at 12:47 PM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

California resident here, collected unemployment in 2011. I can speak to the freelancing portion—no, you do not have to stop doing freelance work while you are collecting unemployment benefits. However, you must report the income you receive from freelancing (or any part-time paid work) and that income can be deducted from your unemployment benefit. Further you will need to demonstrate that you are both available for and actively seeking full-time work, and that your freelance activities will not interfere with your status as a full-time job seeker.

I collected unemployment for about 3 months. I had to go through a brief phone interview at the beginning (which covered the basics of why I was filing for unemployment and my job-seeker status) and I believe I had to appear in person at the EDD office to register. Later on I was also required to attend one day-long "seminar" conducted by the EDD office on how to effectively search for work, which was completely useless to someone in my industry and professional situation. Otherwise, all I had to do was account for my freelance income as described above and report some minimal information about my job application activities every couple of weeks. However, my understanding is that individual experiences with CA EDD can vary considerably. Other people I know who have gone through this have reported getting considerably more scrutiny or more stringent requirements to interact regularly with the EDD office.
posted by 4rtemis at 2:53 PM on April 15, 2016

CA EDD file a claim
You apply online, they send you a debit card. It's very easy.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:01 PM on April 15, 2016

As of last year, the phone interview is still part of the process for collecting CA unemployment, but you can register online and use their job search portal without ever stepping foot into an unemployment office for anything.
posted by phatkitten at 4:10 PM on April 15, 2016

I claimed last year (Pasadena):
1) I filed online
2) I filed six or seven months after I was laid-off. IIRC, if you file within 3 months of your lay-off date, you get the full whack of whatever you're due, which is based on your former income. If you wait longer than 3 months, the amount you are eligible for can decrease for every quarter you delay filing.
3) How much receive is related to your former income - max is $450/ week
4) If you file, say, on a Tuesday, your benefits won't start until the beginning of the next week - Sunday
5) You won't receive benefits for your first filed week - that week will be tagged onto the end, if you go the full 6 months
6) You can extend the duration of your benefits only if you apply for certain types of training courses within a certain period of time
7) Your benefit is initially applied to a Bank of America Visa debit card, which is sent to you in the mail. You can create a BofA online account and then set it up to have your benefits auto-transferred to your personal online banking account
8) You certify online, every 2 weeks, which involves completing a form saying that you've looked for work, entering details of jobs you've applied for (I typically entered 3 jobs/ week - no idea how many is enough/ what triggers red flags), and then checking a "I hereby declare it's all true" confirmation box. On submission of this form, you'll receive the funds within a matter of days.
9) Your benefits are taxable - you can choose to have that tax withheld every time you certify if you wish
10) Initially I was sent a paper form in the mail, which asked about personal details, what salary range I was willing to accept, whether I was willing to travel, what jobs I'd looked for so far and where etc. I was then given an appointment at the Pasadena employment place, which I had to bring the form along to. The appointment - with approx 20 other folks - covered services offered etc, and then someone checked my form and I signed another form and that was it. It lasted an hour and essentially was an overview of help available + checking that you're a legitimate human being looking for work.
11) Following that initial appointment, everything else was done online (I didn't have a phone interview - I think maybe that's an alternative to the in-person appointment in some areas).
12) The only "gotcha" I can think of is that in parallel to all of this, you have to upload your resume to a site called CalJobs (and you have to confirm this in the above mentioned paper form). When you do so, your resume is "live" for I think 3 months, and having a "live" resume on CalJobs is a requirement to receive benefits - without this, your benefits will stop. To keep your resume "live," you just have to log in again to the CalJobs site within those 3 months.
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 10:02 AM on April 16, 2016

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