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Have You Lost Your Job Due to COVID-19? Here Is What You Need to Know About Applying for State Benefits


With California businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers suddenly find themselves with reduced or no income. If you have lost your job or had your hours reduced, here are a few things you need to know about applying for state benefits.

Applying for Disability Insurance

If you cannot work because you have contracted COVID-19, or are subject to a medical quarantine related to the disease, you may be eligible for Disability Insurance. You can file a claim through the California Employment Development Department’s SDI Online system. You will need to provide some basic information, including your name, Social Security number, California driver’s license number, and your employer’s information (which you can get from your last W-2).

Applying for Paid Family Leave

If you cannot work because you need to stay home and care for a family member who has contracted COVID-19 or subject to a medical quarantine, you may be eligible to file a claim for California Paid Family Leave. This involves a similar process to applying for Disability Insurance. Again, you should work through the SDI Online system.

Applying for Unemployment Insurance

Even if you are not ill as a result of COVID-19 or caring for a family member directly impacted by the pandemic, you may be temporarily unemployed due to the state-ordered closure of businesses. If that is the case, you should apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. You may also be eligible for UI benefits if you are a parent forced to stay home because you need to care for your children due to the closing of schools. Normally there is a one-week waiting period for UI benefits following a job loss or reduction in hours, but this requirement has been waived under an executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

How Much Will I Actually Receive in Benefits?

According to the Employment Development Department (EDD), a person can receive between $50 and $1,300 per week under Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave. The exact benefit amount will depend on your total wages earned over the past 12 to 18 months. Unemployment Insurance benefits are also based on this 12- to 18-month period and will range from $40 to $450 per week, plus additional benefits available under the CARES Act{ADD LINK}.

Also note that even under normal circumstances, it will take a few weeks for EDD to process claims for benefits. And given the expected unprecedented demand due to the size and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be additional delays in processing claims. Under the

This Situation is Fluid and Subject to Change

As of this writing, there are also a number of proposals under consideration at the state and federal levels to help compensate workers who are likely to be out of work for an extended period of time. This situation is fluid and subject to constant change. If you have additional questions or concerns about your rights as a worker in this situation, contact a qualified California employment law attorney right away.


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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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