Press Releases

California will administer benefits, including additional $600 per week made available in coronavirus legislation

Benefits are retroactive to date of job loss, not filing date

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following information explaining how self-employed, part-time, independent contractors and gig workers in California can apply for new unemployment insurance benefits (including an additional $600 per week beyond usual state benefits) made available through the CARES Act:

“With unemployment rates skyrocketing due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Californians are applying for unemployment benefits for the first time. In order to receive benefits as quickly as possible, Californians should apply through the California Employment Development Department’s website.

 “Applying through the state will make you eligible for a range of unemployment benefits. In the coronavirus recovery legislation signed into law last month, Congress included an additional $600 a week until July 31 and extended the period you can receive benefits by 13 weeks.

 “Congress also made self-employed, part-time, independent contractors and gig workers eligible for benefits for the first time. In short, if you lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment benefits will likely be available even if you weren’t eligible in the past.”

How self-employed, part-time, independent contractors and gig workers can file an unemployment insurance claim in California:
(Source: EDD website)

As part of the federal CARES Act, the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state UI benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic. The provisions of the program include:

  • Up to 39 weeks of benefits starting with weeks of unemployment beginning February 2, 2020, through the week ending December 26, 2020*, depending on when you became directly impacted by the pandemic.
  • An additional $600 to each PUA weekly benefit amount you may be eligible to receive, as part of the separate CARES Act Pandemic Additional Compensation program. Only the weeks of a claim between March 29 and July 25* are eligible for the extra $600 payments.
  • A new 13-week federal extension for those who run out of their regular state-provided UI benefits (maximum 26 weeks). File a PUA claim and you may be converted to the federal extension once it is available.

* Under the CARES Act, the $600 additional benefits are available through July 31, 2020. However, the US Department of Labor has issued guidance to clarify that, for most Californians, the last full week of benefits will end on July 25, 2020. Similarly, the PUA program has a legislative end date of December 31, 2020, but for Californians, the last full week of benefits will end on December 26, 2020.

Benefits can be retroactive to weeks starting on or after February 2, 2020, depending on your last day of work due to COVID-19 and regardless of when you submitted your claim application. The effective date of your claim will begin the Sunday of the week when you last worked and became unemployed due to reasons directly related to COVID-19.


The PUA benefits are payable if you don’t qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in California or another state and also do not qualify for state Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave benefits. This includes:

  • Business owners
  • Self-employed individuals
  • Independent contractors

Please visit the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance website for more information.

The fastest way to apply for benefits is through UI Online. You can also apply for PUA by phone, mail, or fax.