Amount and Duration of Unemployment Compensation in California

Learn how much you can receive in unemployment benefits in California and how long the payments will last.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law
Updated by Aaron Hotfelder, J.D. · University of Missouri School of Law

If you've lost your job and meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits in California, the amount you can receive will depend on your earnings before you filed your claim. Normally, benefits last for up to 26 weeks.

This article explains how your benefit amount is calculated.

How California Calculates Unemployment Benefit Amounts

Your earnings during what's known as the "base period" will determine both your eligibility for unemployment benefits and the weekly amount you'll receive. The base period is usually the earliest four of the five full calendar quarters that come before you filed your claim. (For instance, the base year would be April 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023, for claims filed in July 2023.)

The EDD will compute your weekly benefit amount based on your total wages during the quarter in your base period when you earned the most. For all but very low-wage workers, the weekly benefit amount is arrive at by dividing those total wages by 26—up to a maximum of $450 per week.

For instance, if you earned a total of $6,000 during the highest quarter in your base period, you would receive $231 per week in benefits. If your highest-quarter wages were more than $11,674, you would receive the maximum $450.

You can use the EDD's unemployment insurance calculator to see figure your weekly benefit amount.

How Long Do Unemployment Benefits Last in California?

In most cases, you can receive unemployment benefits in California for up to 26 weeks. During periods of high unemployment or during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, additional weeks of benefits might be available.

What Happens After You File a Claim for California Unemployment Benefits

You may file your claim for unemployment benefits online, by phone, by fax, or by mail. Contact information, online filing, and instructions are available on the EDD site.

Once it receives your application, the EDD will send you some documents, including a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award indicating how much you will receive if you are found eligible for benefits (despite the title of this notice, it does not mean you have qualified for benefits yet).

If you were fired or quit your job, the EDD may schedule a telephone interview to determine your eligibility for benefits. If you are found eligible, the EDD will begin sending you your benefits checks and claim forms, which you will receive (and must return) every two weeks.

If your claim for unemployment is denied, you will receive a Notice of Determination informing you of the decision. You have the right to appeal the decision. For details, see our article on how to appeal an unemployment denial in California.

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