California launches new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to help the self-employed and others impacted by COVID-19

Sacramento – Today, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) is launching the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program to provide financial support to Californians who are out of business or whose ability to provide services has been significantly reduced as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This applies to business owners, self-employed, and independent contractors, along with those who have limited work history and others not usually eligible for regular state Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.

Workers are able to apply for the EDD’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).   To help guide workers through application, the EDD is also launching a new “Guide to applying for unemployment benefits in California” page. The guide consolidates basic information about the process and takes customers to the UI Online system customers currently use for applying for regular UI.

Applicants, regardless of which program they are seeking, will be asked the same basic questions, including employment history and earnings information, along with some new questions that have been programmed into UI Online that are needed to determine PUA eligibility. Based on responses as well as wage information, the department will determine if a claim is processed as a regular UI claim or a PUA claim.

“We know there are a lot of workers in the state who are in business for themselves and have been greatly struggling through this historic pandemic,” said EDD Director Sharon Hilliard. “We have worked to get this new program in place quickly to support working Californians, the self-employed, their families, and their communities.”

Applicants may learn more about the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program by reviewing the newly updatedPUA Frequently Asked Questions on the EDD website.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much can I receive in PUA benefits?

In order to provide benefits as quickly as possible, payments will be issued in phases. If you qualify for PUA, you will receive an initial payment of $167 per week as far back as February 2nd, 2020 depending on exactly when you became unemployed due to the pandemic. After these initial payments, your weekly amount may be increased as soon as further programming is completed and depending on your prior earnings. The EDD will review earnings information you provide when you apply. In addition, for every week of PUA benefits you qualify for between March 29 and the end of July, the EDD will automatically add an extra $600 in federal stimulus funds to your payments.

Will I need to supply any documents along with my application to prove my income?

No, you do not need to submit any documents to the EDD with our PUA application. You will be asked for your total income for the 2019 Calendar Year. Initially, this will be used to pay the minimum payment of $167 per week. But if the income information you provide indicates that you meet an annual earnings threshold of $17,368 or more, the EDD will work as quickly as possible to verify your income for potentially higher weekly payments up to a maximum of $450 per week. If additional information is needed, the EDD will contact you.

How fast could I receive benefit payments?

If you apply through UI Online and have no claim, no reported wages as an employee over the last 18 months, and meet federal eligibility requirements, your application will be processed in our system right away. You will then be able to move quickly to certifying eligibility for any back weeks after February 2nd. If you already have an EDD Debit Card that has not expired, the first payments can be made in just a couple of days. If not, it will take about a week from that first certification to get your card with first payment authorized.

What should I do if I already filed a claim for regular UI benefits and received a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award showing $0 in benefits?

This doesn’t necessarily mean someone has been denied benefits. Such a notice can indicate one of three scenarios:  your identity couldn’t be verified and further documentation is required, you were misclassified as an independent contractor (instead of an employee) or information wasn’t reported correctly and you can take further action, or you are self-employed and not eligible for regular UI benefits. See the FAQs for more information.

If I am already receiving regular UI benefits, can I switch over to PUA benefits if I want to identify myself as an independent contractor or as self-employed?

No. If you are already receiving UI benefits, then you cannot qualify for PUA benefits.

What if I’m out of work due to COVID-19, have a small amount of W-2 income, and a large amount of income from self-employment?  Can I not declare the W-2 wages and just rely on self-employment to get PUA?

No. If EDD has wages reported from an employer over the last 18 months that would qualify you for a regular UI claim, then the EDD is required by law to proceed with a regular UI claim for you.

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Monica Vargas

Monica is an Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been involved in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Valley Fire, Butte Fire, historic drought, Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, 2017 winter storms, North Bay Fires, Camp Fire, Ridgecrest Earthquake and EMAC PIO support to 2020 Puerto Rico earthquake. She previously served Cal OES as an analyst in international affairs, technology operations and executive staff support.

40 thoughts on “California launches new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to help the self-employed and others impacted by COVID-19

  • April 30, 2020 at 1:17 pm
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    Very informative, please keep me updated.

    Reply
  • May 11, 2020 at 4:35 am
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    To be eligible for PUA I claimed only what I earned as a gig worker, yet I receive income from a rental property as well, will this adversely affect me in any way? Thank You! Mark

    Reply
    • June 23, 2020 at 8:09 am
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      I applied for pua it’s been three weeks and no response there no one to help me

      Reply
      • June 23, 2020 at 9:02 am
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        hello, i applied… received my letter for the amount. never received my email. or EDD customer number. no letter ? i did get my debit card , benefits from 3/20/20 -5/2/20 , my last day working was 3/7/20. i haven’t emailed everyday for 4 weeks to my customer number. reply, was not helpful. so it locked me out, as i forgot my pw. which was the correct pw , but would not let me in. on the EDD site it said to apply for a new email, pw and Security questions . i did ,that still would not let it in…so i was told to re apply, still did not receive an email or anything. Please Advise….

        Reply
        • August 1, 2020 at 11:54 pm
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          Did u get a response because same happend to me I need pin how do I get. Quick question how much did u put for 2019 yearly salary just to see if I inputed right.,. I put 50 thousand is that ok and what was ur amount with ur yearly salary

          Reply
      • July 7, 2020 at 4:29 pm
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        I’ve been approved but I’ve been waiting for my card for over a week1/2 can’t I just have it derectdeposited on to my next pending card if so how do I do it

        Reply
    • July 23, 2020 at 12:05 pm
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      Hello, did you ever receive a response to your inquiry?

      Reply
    • July 30, 2020 at 2:42 pm
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      I get supplemental security income. Do I or should I apply for PUA with my only source of income being ssi?? Will I then be in trouble with the SSA?? I’m confused because SSA says I must apply for any help out there, yet will punish me if I am awarded that help…Not Fare

      Reply
  • May 11, 2020 at 9:00 am
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    I applies for regular unemployment in mid- April and was denied and sent a disqulaification letter for the weeks requested now it says I can apply for the Pandemic type but How do I do this as I have a claim in the system with dollars attached to it. It is very confusing how to proceed!

    Reply
    • May 23, 2020 at 3:47 pm
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      I am exempt liscence and care for two children, I lost my work due to covid_19 am I entitled to benefits under PUB program?

      Reply
      • June 12, 2020 at 3:10 pm
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        I filed for PUA and revived my debit card for Middle of May , it was for 4-6 weeks. I wrote down all my info to submit every 2 weeks, but I cannot file a claim without my EDD Account number. Which I never received. And currently many others have yet to receive their’s going all the way back to March. How do I get my account number I appreciate any help possible thank you very much,

        Garry Cooperman

        Reply
  • May 11, 2020 at 11:39 am
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    I used to drive uber I stop it for vivid 19
    So far I need financial assistant

    Reply
    • August 26, 2020 at 1:41 pm
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      I apply for the pandemic unemployment assistant on August 6th I have not heard or received the letter or anything from them no EDD card no nothing I’m trying to get a phone number so I can call and speak to someone in regards to this you can you can email me back at Romancebarkins1269@gmail.com

      Reply
  • May 11, 2020 at 11:03 pm
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    Hi there,

    I had initially filed for unemployment and was denied as I am self employed and wasn’t eligible for regular UI benefits. Afterwards, when PUA opened up, I opened a new claim (since I am partially unemployed and, as a self employed qualify to apply for PUA).

    Context and Current Situation:

    – Recently, I got a mail from EDD stating that I had qualified for PUA and that my benefits will be applied retroactively starting 08/03. (Note: I hadn’t certified online for all these past months (from 03/08/2020 – 03/27/2020) because my UI claim were already denied and I had not logged in to certify, responded via mail or given my consent for certification. It seems EDD automatically and retroactively applied my certification for these past weeks, assumed I earned $0 in earnings for these past weeks and posted me benefit checks for those months, all assuming that I didn’t work and had $0 in earnings. In reality, I am partially unemployed and have earnings to report for all these weeks starting 03/08 till now! Also, I also couldn’t log in to certify because UI Online was down a lot of times and it was my understanding that not certifying meant no benefits would be mailed! So, EDD’s decision to certify my past benefits without my consent seems a bit odd and has me very confused). In addition, I also never got any paper mails from EDD asking me to certify – leaving me no avenue to certify for these weeks but having EDD automatically and retroactively applying benefits and assuming $0 in wage earnings!

    – When I was able to log into UI Online (the website was finally working), I did correctly report my earnings and certify my benefits for the weeks of 03/28 – 04/11 – something for which EDD calculated $0 in eligible benefits.

    My questions to you are:

    1) It seems I am eligible for PUA (not regular unemployment benefits) and hence the checks I am getting in my mail now are applied retroactively to 03/08/20. However, when I log into the UI Online to certify for those past weeks (from 03/08 – 03/27) and report my earnings (I did partially work for all those weeks), I can not because EDD automatically certified my benefits without my consent or response, assumed I worked $0 and posted me checks without my consent or my own certification! I do have earnings from those weeks that may impact my benefits amount but I cant even report them because EDD has certified on my behalf that I had $0 earnings! Kindly help clarify my true benefit amount for these past weeks and the process to report my earnings for those weeks. Depending on the new benefits I am eligible for, I need help having this new amount updated on my UI account and new checks (if I still qualify for benefits for these past weeks) posted to me. Please also provide guidance on how to return these old checks so there are no penalties, if needed. I have not cashed them.

    2) For the 2 weeks when UI Online system was working, I was able to log in and certify my benefits and report my earnings. However, it seems EDD paid me $0 in benefits since I made more than $999.99 in weekly earnings! Is that accurate? Do I not qualify for PUA if I earn > $999.99 per week? I am still partially unemployed and had hoped I would still qualify for PUA as a self employed. Can you please clarify?

    3) If indeed, I don’t qualify for PUA (despite being self employed and having been partially unemployed), what is the best way to return the checks already posted to me (for these past weeks from 03/08 – 03/27 when EDD wrongly certified my $0 earnings without my logging in or paper response: I had assumed the benefits would end if I didn’t certify) and stop my claim and stop any future checks to be mailed to me (from 03/28 onwards) so I don’t face any unnecessary penalties through no fault of my own? Please advise.

    Reply
    • May 12, 2020 at 7:27 am
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      There is an “Ask EDD” portal you can access on the edd site by clicking on “ContactEDD”. It will give you a drop down list of questions to choose from and then another drop down list pertaining to whatever you’re asking about. In your case, choose the certify for benefits, and in the subcategory list there should be a “report earnings” or something to that effect. There should be a box that allows you to type any questions or comments…its my understanding you report your earnings in the same box, and be advised, you may have to repay some of what you were paid or face fraud penalties for each week you don’t report that you’ve been paid and not reported.

      Reply
      • May 26, 2020 at 4:39 pm
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        Many people have already asked in “contactEDD” , but the question has not been answered.

        Reply
      • June 17, 2020 at 11:53 pm
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        I applied and received a letter stating I would receive a certain amount for 39 wks, along with $600 until 7/25/20. I then revived a debit card with 5 weeks If benefits. I then tried to apply 2 weeks later for my benefits. Was unable to file , due to not having an EDD Customer Account Number. I then since have spent 3-4 hrs daily without getting ahold of anyone. Just numbers and more numbers without any help. One page on the EDD page told me to go to Ask EDD , I did 6x ask for my EDD Customer Account Number. The answer I received everytime is apply for your online Benefits, and as soon as you do you will receive in 10 days your Edd Customer Account Number. But how can I without it. Makes zero sense… says to apply , but need an Edd Customer Account Number to apply???
        It’s been over 35 days since I received my Debit card . And I can’t file for my benefits as Millions others are having the same issue. Edd gives us a new number everyday, yet no help to resolve this silly easy request. Please help use . We are all waiting for benefits that we should have. This is just not fair… please help us!!!

        Reply
        • June 25, 2020 at 6:15 am
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          HEY EVERYONE I CAME ACCESS A WAY TO GET AN ANSWER ON THE “NEW HOTLINE NUMBER FOR EDD” AFTER YOU HIT 1 FOR ENGLISH AND THEY TELL YOU THAT THEY ARE EXPERIENCING TO MANY CALLS AND CAN’T HELP YOU RIGHT NOW AS SOON AS IT STATES THAT HIT 0 AND IT WILL PLACE YOU ON HOLD FOR THE NEXT AVAILABLE AGENT. I ACCIDENTALLY HIT IT YESTERDAY AND IT WORKED AND THEY ISSUED ALL MY PAST PAYMENTS RIGHT THEN!!!! I WANT EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO RECEIVE WHAT IS OWED TO THEM. ITS UNFAIR WHEN YOU CAN’T REACH ANYONE ABOUT YOUR MONEY. SO I HOPE THIS WILL HELP OTHER PEOPLE. IF IT WORKS FOR YOU REPOST FOR THE NEXT GUY.

          Reply
  • May 15, 2020 at 2:46 am
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    Hi,
    I was an independent contractor who filed 1099 last year. Since 01/01/2020 I changed job and got paid w-2. I have been out of work since 03/15/2020 and my initial UI application was filed on 03/17/2020. I did received a letter from EDD stating that I did not qualify for regular UI, probably due to limited work history. Then again I filed another application for PUA on 04/28/2020 when they started accepting application. I got the letter in the mail stating I qualify for X amount of dollars, so I was able to certify for benefits retro back to March when I was out of my job. However, it’s been more than 2 weeks after certification and my payment status continues to “pending” and no payment was authorize to issue. I am so confused about what can possibly be wrong to why I am not receiving any payment. I tried calling, emails and even writing letters to them. No respond whatsoever. I am just frustrated, lost and confuse. I wonder if anyone have this same problem like me. What should I do now? Thank you for hearing me.

    Reply
    • May 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm
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      Yes I’m in same boat. I have 8 weeks pending, about to lose my home. I really need my unemployment. I have good hopes that after 5/20we will get some of it if not all…. fingers crossed

      Reply
      • June 23, 2020 at 9:09 am
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        did you ever receive it?

        Reply
      • June 25, 2020 at 6:15 am
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        HEY EVERYONE I CAME ACCESS A WAY TO GET AN ANSWER ON THE “NEW HOTLINE NUMBER FOR EDD” AFTER YOU HIT 1 FOR ENGLISH AND THEY TELL YOU THAT THEY ARE EXPERIENCING TO MANY CALLS AND CAN’T HELP YOU RIGHT NOW AS SOON AS IT STATES THAT HIT 0 AND IT WILL PLACE YOU ON HOLD FOR THE NEXT AVAILABLE AGENT. I ACCIDENTALLY HIT IT YESTERDAY AND IT WORKED AND THEY ISSUED ALL MY PAST PAYMENTS RIGHT THEN!!!! I WANT EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO RECEIVE WHAT IS OWED TO THEM. ITS UNFAIR WHEN YOU CAN’T REACH ANYONE ABOUT YOUR MONEY. SO I HOPE THIS WILL HELP OTHER PEOPLE. IF IT WORKS FOR YOU REPOST FOR THE NEXT GUY.

        Reply
    • May 26, 2020 at 4:46 pm
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      For Next step is how to make EDD to reply to the question(s) to each individual who has applied for PUA, with 0$ payment OR “disqualification” replied OR blocking to the weekly claim report.
      So beside the EDD department, who else to asking for help on these similar issue.

      Reply
  • May 22, 2020 at 11:49 am
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    The website keeps kicking me off every time I try to fill out the Pandemic unemployment form. This is my third day trying. Where is the form I could just download to fax it in? It shouldn’t be this hard to get.

    Reply
    • May 22, 2020 at 11:52 am
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      I’m a hairdresser and have not been able to work and shops are still closed indefinitely. I forgot to write that in the post above

      Reply
  • May 22, 2020 at 12:02 pm
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    Hi, My son lives in San Francisco, But Worked in NYC from April to October as a independent contractor, then the company switched him to Salary position from Nov till April 30th-18 weeks- When he was terminated from his company.How does he handle trying to get Pandemic Assistance–Does he file in NY or where he resides in Ca, any help would be appreciated.

    Reply
  • May 31, 2020 at 9:34 am
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    I applied for unemployment benefits in march but received a letter from EDD saying 0 benefits are available. I’m self employed with an s corp. I have tried to register for a pua claim and it wont let me register because it says that I have an existing account. I have never received any benefits from unemployment. please advise me of what to do. my cell number is 9096305809 if that is beneficial. thank you.

    Reply
  • June 5, 2020 at 9:18 am
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    I applied for PAU and received an email stating that I had indeed successfully registered on 5/1/2020 but have not, did not receive an account number, not a password as of today 6/5/2020. The Health Club I taught at closed and I have been unemployed since mid March.
    I did not receive an account number nor a password by mail as promised. This renders my ability to continue online for PAU. Also it will not allow me to re-register again as my email address is already being used from my original attempt.

    Reply
    • June 6, 2020 at 3:28 pm
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      You will only get a Social Security Number, when your Claim has been approved for: Pandemic Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

      Reply
      • June 12, 2020 at 11:59 am
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        Do you mean to say account number instead of social security number ?.
        Also please help me to understand what to make of the ” Customer Account number Notification ” that I received through the mail, informing me of an account number but does not say anything about my claim being accepted or declined.
        It does not allow me to open another online account as I already got one since four years ago. However, that online account does not show anything for my latest claim that I filed over a month ago,under PUA.
        Thanks.

        Reply
  • June 17, 2020 at 10:44 pm
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    Hi,

    I’m a laundromat business owner and I also work for an employer. Can I apply PUA due to the reason that my business income significant reduce?

    Thank you.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2020 at 9:08 am
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    they won’t answer, and this is not new … as i sent in a email on the 12th … still waiting! i think we all should file a CLASS ACTION … AS they received the money , but will not let us have our Claims….

    Reply
    • June 25, 2020 at 6:13 am
      Permalink

      HEY EVERYONE I CAME ACCESS A WAY TO GET AN ANSWER ON THE “NEW HOTLINE NUMBER FOR EDD” AFTER YOU HIT 1 FOR ENGLISH AND THEY TELL YOU THAT THEY ARE EXPERIENCING TO MANY CALLS AND CAN’T HELP YOU RIGHT NOW AS SOON AS IT STATES THAT HIT 0 AND IT WILL PLACE YOU ON HOLD FOR THE NEXT AVAILABLE AGENT. I ACCIDENTALLY HIT IT YESTERDAY AND IT WORKED AND THEY ISSUED ALL MY PAST PAYMENTS RIGHT THEN!!!! I WANT EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO RECEIVE WHAT IS OWED TO THEM. ITS UNFAIR WHEN YOU CAN’T REACH ANYONE ABOUT YOUR MONEY. SO I HOPE THIS WILL HELP OTHER PEOPLE. IF IT WORKS FOR YOU REPOST FOR THE NEXT GUY.

      Reply
  • June 26, 2020 at 9:08 am
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    I’ve been denied backdated PUA what can I do to show I was stopped on working back on 3/8/20. Thank you

    Reply
  • June 26, 2020 at 2:38 pm
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    I received notice that I was potentially eligible for PEUC benefits. I have almost $2K in claim benefita and a small weekly amount showing of what I would be approved for. I have been certifying benefits as they become available but my weekly status show disqualified?

    Reply
  • June 30, 2020 at 10:55 pm
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    I applied my PUA since April and I received letters said I will have weekly benefit amount $187.00 and plus $600.00, but until now I do not receive any payment and no more further information and had tried to call thousand times to EDD, but always no one answer the phone!!! so so tired!!!

    Reply
    • July 16, 2020 at 7:23 pm
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      Call ask.edd when it goes thru push 1 n 2 quickly if it goes thru it’ll say all reps buzy so hold on…if not hang up and do over…I did 3xs and it took 50 calls the first time and 5the 2nd 10 the last time

      Reply
  • July 20, 2020 at 6:37 am
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    Is anyone else have this problem with EDD filing claims without your consent? Now EDD did this to me now they are trying to say i have over payment. i feel it was wrong for them to falsified benefits.It was not my fault.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2020 at 12:01 am
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    Did u get a response because same happend to me I need pin how do I get. Quick question how much did u put for 2019 yearly salary just to see if I inputed right.,. I put 50 thousand is that ok and what was ur amount with ur yearly salary

    Reply

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