If you lose your job in California, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. At one time, you could file an EDD extension form and get benefits beyond those 26 weeks, but that program is not currently in effect. You may, however, be able to get extended benefits if you're participating in a training program.
Unemployed California residents will stop receiving benefits after 26 weeks, but you may qualify for extended benefits if you enrolled in training during the first 16 weeks of receiving benefits.
California Unemployment Extension Options
From time to time, the federal government will pass something called Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which offers federal funds to extend unemployment during periods of low employment. Currently, this program is not in effect, but when it is, you'll simply work with California's Employment Development Department to fill out an EDD extension form and wait for approval.
Although California residents max out at 26 weeks, this is still more than many other states. In Florida and North Carolina, residents receive only 12 weeks of unemployment benefits, while Massachusetts offers the most, at 30 weeks. However, during periods of low unemployment, like now, even Massachusetts drops those benefits to 26 weeks.
California Training Extension
Although the California unemployment extension program is on hold, you may still qualify for a training extension. You'll need to let the California EDD know that you're interested in California Training Benefits when you apply for unemployment. If you've already applied, you can retroactively sign up by contacting EDD or visiting an America's Job Center of California location. You'll need to request this before you reach your 16th week of unemployment benefits.
Instead of an EDD extension form, the training extension gives you the time necessary to complete the training you need to land a position. You may also qualify to continue to receive benefits while you complete your education. You can choose from multiple types of training, including those organized by government agencies, employers or trade organizations. If you qualify, you also won't be required to prove you're actively looking for employment while you're in the training phase.
What to Do Post-Unemployment
If you've used your EDD login regularly, you probably see the end of your unemployment benefits coming. As the deadline approaches, make sure you have an action plan to get you beyond those final payments. You've probably already tightened your budget, but you may have to make some tough budgetary decisions if you're searching for a job and you still haven't found one.
With no California unemployment extension in place, you may have to look for alternative forms of income. Consider approaching a temporary agency or reaching out to companies outside your area that will allow you to work from home. You could also consider freelancing or delivering food through a crowdsourcing app in order to generate some regular revenue.
Applying for Disability Benefits
For those who are unable to physically work, disability may be a good option. The good news is, if you already have an EDD login, you'll be able to use it for this, as well, since the same California department handles both unemployment and disability signups. In order to qualify, you'll need to be under the care of a physician and apply between nine and 49 days from the date your disability went into effect in order to qualify. You'll also need to remain under a doctor's care throughout the time you're receiving disability insurance benefits.
In order to qualify for SDI, go to https://www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/SDI_Online.htm and select Benefit Programs Online. There you'll use the same EDD login and password you used for unemployment to file a claim. You'll need your most recent employer's contact information and the dates you last worked, as well as identifying information on yourself.
- NOLO: Amount and Duration of Unemployment Compensation in California
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Policy Basics: How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available?
- California Employment Development Department: Qualify for a Training Extension
- California Employment Development Department: California Training Benefits
- Employment Development Department: How to File a Disability Insurance Claim in SDI Online