Losing your job is devastating. Whether it was lost due to misconduct or loss of business within the company resulting in them lowering their employment, your life is about to change drastically. If you have lost your job, for whatever reason, you may be feeling overwhelmed and depressed. These reactions are natural, and many may feel as though they have lost their identity just because they have lost their job.

The loss of a job is coupled with a frustrating job market, and trying to match your skills to what is available can make this event even more stressful. It is time to consider how you will continue to receive money to support yourself and those dependent on you. Your next logical step is to begin applying for unemployment insurance benefits.

How do I know if I Qualify for Unemployment Insurance Benefits?

To be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in California, you have to have lost wages or work through no fault of your own. You are eligible for benefits if you've been laid off from your job due to a lack of work, and may even be eligible if you've been fired or have quit your job. Common reasons people file for unemployment insurance benefits include:

  • Being fired- Being fired from employment because you lack the skills to perform your required duties, or just didn't fit into the position as the company thought you would still qualify you for benefits. Having been fired for misconduct would make you ineligible for benefits.
  • Being laid off from your employment due to RIF (reduction-in-force) or for economic reasons your business was required to downsize still makes you eligible for benefits.
  • If you quit your job, you will have to have a good reason for quitting. A good reason qualifies as one that a reasonable person who genuinely wanted to work would have left under the same circumstances.

Unemployment insurance benefits (UI) will provide benefits to you if you've been temporarily unemployed, or if your work hours are reduced to a very low level. There are specific criteria; you will be responsible for proving. You must be looking for work during the time benefits are paid to you.

If you have applied for benefits and have been denied, you should contact legal counsel. You will need an experienced lawyer to provide you with more information and assist you through the process to receive the benefits you deserve.

How to Apply for Unemployment Insurance Benefits

California Employment Development Department (EDD) is responsible for the unemployment insurance benefits program in California. You are able to apply for these benefits over the phone but expect long wait times. Some have reported being placed on hold for hours before reaching an operator.

Online applications are available on EDD's website and provide a much faster process. Log onto https://eapply4ui.edd.ca.gov to fill out your form and receive a written confirmation. If you do not have a personal computer, you can use one at a local library or community center. Before you begin the application process, you should gather all the information necessary to fill out the forms. This list is EDD's checklist to ensure you have all the requested documents on hand:

  • Your last employer information which lists the company name, address- (both physical and mailing if there are both)- employer's phone number, and your previous supervisor's name
  • The last day you worked and why you are no longer working
  • Your gross earnings for the last week you worked. The week starts with Sunday and ends with your last day of work
  • Listing of all employers you have worked for during the past eighteen months. The list should include business names, addresses, and phone numbers. The list should also have dates when you worked for each business, the gross amount of wages earned by each, how many hours you worked for each of the companies and how much you were paid each hour. Include with this list the reason you are no longer working for any of the businesses listed.
  • Standard Form 8- Notice to Federal Employees About Unemployment Insurance
  • DD 214 Member 4 Copy if you are ex-military
  • Your citizenship status, or if you are not a citizen, you will need information from your employment authorization document

Have this information at hand before you begin the application process. Once you have filled out the application and submitted it to EDD, they may schedule a phone interview with you. A conversation over the phone is standard procedure, so you do not need to be intimidated. When they call, you should be prepared to clearly explain how you have lost your job or why you are no longer working. You should also be prepared to prove you are actively searching for work. Keep a record of the jobs you've applied to include the dates and names of the businesses.

What can I do if my Unemployment Insurance Benefits is Denied?

The State of California allows you to appeal a denial of unemployment insurance benefits. When you win your appeal, you will receive the benefits you're entitled to, along with retroactive amounts back to the date the original claim would have started. If you have been denied unemployment benefits, contact an attorney who understands the laws governing unemployment in California to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

Common Reasons Unemployment Benefits is Denied

A Notice of Determination is sent to you if your unemployment insurance benefits are denied. This notice will come from the California Employment Development Department (EDD). In the notice, you will be advised as to why your claim was turned down for benefits, and information on how you can appeal the decision through the appeals process. Common reasons benefits are denied include:

Your income did not meet earning requirements. In order to be eligible for benefits in California, you must have received a minimum amount in wages within the past twelve months known as the 'base period.'

Quitting your job is not an option for you to collect unemployment benefits. You will have to have been out of work through no fault of your own, and voluntarily quitting is not sufficient reason to be eligible to receive unemployment compensation. California rules for unemployment insurance benefits state you must have reasonable cause or compelling personal or work reasons that would have caused anyone who genuinely wanted to keep their job to quit before you would be eligible for benefits in this program for stopping work. 

Getting fired from employment due to misconduct on your part makes you ineligible for unemployment benefits under California law. Misconduct has a narrow definition which states you have committed a breach of a material duty owed to your employer. You would have had to display a manner which showed a willful or reckless disregard of your obligations. These actions would have intentionally harmed your employer's interests. If you have merely made a mistake, shown carelessness, or had a poor performance record, it generally is not considered or qualified as misconduct.

Refusing to look for new employment can cause you to lose unemployment benefits. You are required to look for new and suitable employment while receiving money from this program. You are also expected to accept suitable offers for work if they are given to you.

If you have been denied unemployment insurance benefits and do not feel it was a fair decision, contact an attorney who understands California law pertaining to this program. You deserve compensation for being out of a job and the financial support necessary to live while you look for new employment. An attorney can guide you through the process and handle the legal work while you concentrate on finding a suitable job.

Being Available to Work

In order to continue receiving benefits from unemployment insurance, you must be able to work, look for jobs, and be available to accept a new position when a suitable one is offered to you. You must be able to show you have been actively searching for work and certify it on your claim. Keep records of all employers you have contacted regarding obtaining a job, and the dates you were in touch with them. List on this record what the outcome was when you approached said employers.

Unemployment insurance benefits are designed to act as a temporary safety net for you while you seek a new job. It is meant to tide you over financially as you pound the pavement looking for a suitable replacement for employment. You must be qualified as 'able to work'.

What Does it Mean to be 'Able to Work'?

In order for you to be qualified as 'able to work,' you must be mentally and physically capable of work. If you suffer from any form of injury or illness which would prevent you from accepting or performing work, you are not qualified to receive unemployment benefits. The exception to this would be if you are disabled and can still perform a job if reasonable accommodations were made.

The 'able to work' rule varies from state to state. States have different measures as some will allow an employee who is unable to work during a period of illness or disability to collect unemployment benefits as long as they do not turn down work during that time period. 

Do I Have to Be Completely Out of Work to Receive Unemployment Insurance?

Some people are under the impression they must be entirely out of work in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. The truth is in California; you still qualify for unemployment insurance if you are still working part-time depending on your situation and earnings. Several programs in California can provide you with partial' unemployment benefits. This benefit will pay you a portion of what you would receive if you were fully unemployed.

California defines a person as 'unemployed' during any week their regular wages, minus twenty-five percent or $25 of those wages is less than what you would earn as a weekly unemployment benefit. They use whichever is less; the $25 or twenty-five percent in determining this status. If you qualify in this situation and meet all other unemployment insurance requirements, you can receive a check for the difference.

How Do I Determine If I Was Wrongfully Terminated?

Employees are typically employed 'at will' in the State of California. This term means you may be fired at any point by your employer and it can be for no reason at all or any reason. If you are laid off, this process is legal if it is due to a lack of work; however, your employer has to follow specific procedures to give you notice.

It is illegal in California to fire an employee, including an 'at will' worker if your employer is violating a specific law or policy. This stipulation means you cannot be fired based on your sexual orientation, gender, age, race, or other discriminatory reason. If you feel your employer has violated this law, contact an attorney who will ensure you are compensated for this illegal removal of you from employment.

How to File an Appeal If Unemployment Benefits Are Denied

You have twenty days to file an appeal to the California EDD if you have been denied unemployment insurance benefits. Contact your attorney for advice to ensure you are following all the necessary steps to ensure you receive a proper determination in your case. Filing an appeal can only be completed by mail to the address that appears on your determination notice.

Part of your appeal needs to include your reasoning to explain why you feel you should receive the benefits. One example of this expression would be if you were terminated from your position and the determination states you are not entitled to benefits due to misconduct. When you present facts behind your termination were due to a medical condition which resulted in a doctor advising you to discontinue the type of work or risk serious damage to your health, you can show termination was not fair. If your employer would not grant your request for reasonable accommodation or job transfer, you are then a good candidate for appealing the determination.

With the help of an experienced legal representative, you will have an easier time dealing with the court of appeals on this matter. An attorney who is knowledgeable with employment laws in California will help you gather the appropriate documents to grant you a successful appeal.

While you are appealing the denial to your benefits, you will still need to file weekly claims for unemployment benefits, continue to seek employment, and record all your job searches and contacts. You may feel it is unnecessary, but if you win your appeal, the benefits you should have gotten will be retroactive to the date of your application, and you will receive the full benefits you are entitled.

When the EDD receives your appeal application, they will review your case to determine if you are eligible for benefits. Having an attorney working with you will ensure you send the proper documentation so the EDD can make a fair evaluation of your situation. If the EDD office does not feel you are entitled to unemployment benefits, they will forward your file to the Office of Appeals.

From the Office of Appeals, you will be scheduled to appear before an Administrative Law Judge. You will be notified when to expect this hearing along with an explanation of where it will take place, whether or not you'll be expected to appear in person or if it will be done over the phone, as well as how you can submit necessary evidence and testimony from witnesses.

The judge will ask you questions during the hearing, review your documents, and make a decision on your appeal. It is suggested you have an attorney with you at the hearing as your employer may be present with their company counsel, and it is in your best interest to have representation as well. Having an attorney to help you through the appeal process will even the odds at your hearing. Attorneys can question witnesses, help you sort through evidence that will be the most helpful in your case and present legal arguments as to why you should be granted unemployment benefits.

At the hearing, you will want to be prepared to show the judge all of your evidence which supports your reason for believing you are entitled to unemployment benefits. If your loss of employment is due to being fired, you will want to be able to prove it was not for misconduct. You will also want to have any witnesses who can support your side of the story available and ready to testify.

At the designated time of your hearing, you will want to be on time with all supporting documents in hand, and have your attorney accompany you. Your attorney will advise you on how to respond to the ALJs questions, so you adequately represent your case. You, or your attorney, will be able to question witnesses brought by your employer just as your employer will be allowed to challenge you and your witnesses. Once all evidence is presented, you or your attorney will be able to give closing arguments.

The ALJ will issue their decision regarding your case in writing after the hearing. If you win your case, you will not have to do anything further. If you are still denied benefits, you will have twenty days to file an appeal with the Appeals Board. There will be an address provided for you on the ALJs denial letter of where to file with the Appeal Board. If you should not receive satisfaction with the Appeal Board, you still have one more step.

Some of the reference materials used by the ALJs to make their decision on whether or not to grant unemployment benefits include:

Precedent Benefit Decisions

California Code of Regulations, Title 22

Unemployment Insurance Code

Benefit Determination Guides

These materials are available for your viewing on the Employment Development Department Appeal Form, DE 1000m. Your attorney may also have these materials on hand for you to review.

If after presenting with the Appeal Board and your benefits are still being denied, you have six months to file a Writ of Mandate with the California Superior Court. You can get advice from your attorney or follow instructions provided with the Appeal Board denial letter on how to file an appeal to their decision.

Find an Attorney Near Me That Can Help Recover My Unemployment Benefits

If you, or someone close to you, has lost their job and are struggling with financial issues, contact Stop Unpaid Wages at 424-781-8411. Losing employment is a stressful situation. You will need financial support as you continue to look for new work. Unemployment insurance benefits are designed to help you through this challenging period.

If you have applied for these benefits and are being told you do not qualify to receive them, you need legal representation to appeal the decision. At Stop Unpaid Wages, our attorneys understand California law and the court system when it comes to appealing denials on unemployment benefits. Don't struggle through this alone, call us and let us discuss your options.

You can also browse our website to learn about the many legal areas our knowledgeable attorneys can help you through. Contact us today and ensure your legal rights and future are protected.