The California Employment Development Department (EDD) determines your weekly benefit amount by dividing your earnings for the highest paid quarter of the base period by 26, up to a maximum of $450 per week. Benefits are available for up to 26 weeks.
You may file your claim for unemployment benefits online, by phone, by fax, or by mail. You can find online filing information and contact information at www.edd.ca.gov.
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 may appeal the decision—using the appeal form included with the Notice, or simply by writing a letter—within 20 days after the date the Notice was mailed to you. After receiving your appeal request, the EDD will schedule a hearing before an administrative law judge, who will decide on your case and mail the decision to you. (For more information, see our article on how to appeal an unemployment denial in California.)
If you disagree with the decision after the hearing, you may appeal it to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Members of the Board will review the evidence from your original hearing and issue a written decision. If you disagree with this decision, you may file an appeal in court in the California Superior Court.
The EDD provides comprehensive information on the unemployment process at its website, www.edd.ca.gov (select "File & Manage a Claim" to apply for benefits online, find out current eligibility requirements and benefit amounts, learn about the appeals process, and much more).
To get more information on California Unemployment read our article on California unemployment eligibility.