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Calculating your weekly benefit amount for California unemployment benefits

By on August 13, 2019

Calculating your Weekly Benefit Amonuts

Your weekly benefit amount (WBA) is approximately 60 to 70 percent (depending on income) of wages earned 5 to 18 months prior to your claim start date up to the maximum weekly benefit amount. You may receive up to 52 weeks of Disability Insurance (DI) benefits. The daily benefit amount is calculated by dividing your weekly benefit amount by seven. The maximum benefit amount is calculated by multiplying your weekly benefit amount by 52 or adding the total wages subject to State Disability Insurance (SDI) tax paid in your base period, whichever is less.

For claims beginning on or after January 1, 2019, weekly benefits range from $50 to a maximum of $1,252. To qualify for the maximum weekly benefit amount ($1,252) you must earn at least $27,126.67 in a calendar quarter during your base period. Your weekly benefit payment amount may vary if you receive other income (such as sick leave pay, paid time off, etc.) while receiving DI benefits from the Employment Development Department (EDD).

For an estimate of your weekly benefit payment amount, you may use the tables provided by the EDD which can be found by clicking on the following links: Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) Weekly Benefits Amounts (DE 2588), and/or Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) Weekly Benefit Amounts in Dollar Increments (DE 2589).

Important Tip: In case you have a discrepancy with the wages accounted for your base period, you may request a recalculation. Furthermore, in case of a further disagreement with recalculation, you have the right to file an appeal and present proof of wages you have earned but have not been accounted for to the EDD.

Can my unemployment benefits be reduced?

If you earn wages, whether as an independent contractor or as an employee, while collecting unemployment benefits, your benefits will be decreased by a part of the total earnings

For example:

  • If you will earn below under $100 in a week, then your benefits for that particular week will be deducted by the number of wages in excess of approximately than $25.
  • If you will earn greater than $100 in a week, then your benefits for that particular week will be deducted by approximately 75% of weekly wages.

Benefits are reduced for the week in which wages were earned, even if they were not paid until a later date.

Additional sources of income, such as workers compensation and pension benefits, may also decrease your weekly Unemployment Insurance benefits. To the contrary, severance pay generally does not result in any reduction.

Past Earnings Requirement:

To qualify for UI benefits, you must have sufficient “past earnings” in “covered employment”. This comprises almost all types of services rendered as an employee for almost any kind of wages. Independent contractors or self-employed individuals are not generally included by the covered employment requirement.

In order to determine if you meet the past earnings requirement, the EDD performs a detailed analysis of your earnings during the time period defined as your “Base Period”. The standard Base Period is the 12 month period which ended between four to six months before you filed your claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits.

If you file your claim
in…
Your Base Period is before 12 months ending in…
January, February or
March
September
April, May or JuneDecember
July August or SeptemberMarch
October, November or
December
June

To qualify for the maximum weekly benefit amount ($1,252) you must earn at least $27,126.67 in a calendar quarter during your base period. Your weekly benefit payment amount may vary if you receive other income (such as sick leave pay, paid time off, etc.) while receiving DI benefits from the Employment Development Department (EDD).

However, one outlier scenario where it may not be prudent to immediately file your unemployment claim is if your compensation (wages) had significant variations within the past 18 months before your most recent loss of employment. To further clarify, since your weekly benefits amount depends on your Base Period earnings, it can make sense to delay your claim filing until a later date if it would result in a Base Period with a larger total earnings amount. The probability of a larger weekly benefit amount should be evaluated against the downside of applying later and postponing your benefits. This tactic may not be advisable if you anticipate obtaining new employment soon or you are in need of immediate income in the form of UI benefits.

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