How to File for Unemployment Insurance

NBC 7 Responds explains how you can file a claim if you've lost your job or had your hours cut.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom estimated that nearly 300,000 payroll jobs could be cut as the novel coronavirus puts a halt to jobs. Last week the state of California reported 187,000 people filed for unemployment insurance, three times more than the week before.

Employees impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, even part-time workers, can apply for unemployment insurance if they were laid off, quarantined, or had their hours cut.

There may also be benefits "for people who need to stay home to care for their children for the recent closure of schools," Martha García said, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Education.

According to California's Employment Development Department (EDD), eligible workers can receive benefits of between $40 to $450 weekly for up to 26 weeks.

"The benefits are designed to replace a portion of your wages could you have worked, or even if you had your hours reduced,” said EDD Deputy Director Loree Levy. “The moment you lose work or have your hours reduced, that’s when you should apply.”

But if you are unable to work because you were sick or exposed to the novel coronavirus, you may also qualify for disability insurance.

"The legal and citizen immigration status requirements do not affect the eligibility to receive these benefits," Garcia said. 

That disability insurance provides short-term assistance. Most Californians are covered if they file a disability claim and medical documentation that they became ill with coronavirus or have symptoms.

The claim must present evidence of the onset of the medical condition and of the possible duration, as well as doctor, hospital, or health agent information.

Disability benefits cover 60 to 70% of a salary and translate to an income of $50 to $1,300 per week for up to 52 weeks.

A paid family leave claim is available to those who are unable to work because they are caring for a family member with COVID-19. The claim provides up to six weeks of benefits who have full or partial wage loss.

Unemployment claims are only being accepted online, by phone or by mail, as assistance centers have closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. You can submit your claim on the website www.edd.ca.gov and click on the claims section or call EDD at 800-300-5616 to apply by phone.

Note that it can take three weeks after a claim is filed for the first paycheck to appear for qualified workers. The EDD has a checklist to ensure there are no hiccups in the process.

Expect delays, as the website has received more applications than normal due to the circumstances. The department says it is redirecting and increasing staff to accommodate the increase in requests.

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