Unemployment Extensions in California


A California unemployment benefits extension is a federally funded program for which employers will not be charged. Federal unemployment extension programs take affect during periods of high unemployment determined by the United States Department of Labor. An unemployment compensation extension in California covers an additional 13-week period of benefits. During extremely high periods of unemployment, select states offer an additional seven weeks. The maximum unemployment extension period is 20 weeks. Unemployment extension amounts are based on regular unemployment insurance payments and will only be paid after regular benefits have been exhausted. An unemployment beneficiary who is potentially eligible for a federal unemployment extension will be notified by the California Department of Labor. Before contacting the EDD read the sections below for more information:

  • How to get an unemployment extension in California
  • Tiers of unemployment benefits extension in California
  • Eligibility for unemployment compensation extension in California
  • Disaster unemployment assistance in California
How to get an Unemployment Extension in California

Unemployment beneficiaries may have wondered “How can I extend unemployment in CA?” The California Employment Development department will notify qualifying individuals by mail regarding how to extend his or her benefits. Unemployment benefits extensions are paid to claimants that have exhausted all regular benefits and are ineligible for any other UI claims. Petitioners can also contact his or her local EDD to obtain information on federal unemployment extension availability and eligibility to file an extended claim. A beneficiary who receives notice of a possible unemployment extension must take immediate action, as benefits cannot be claimed at any time. Petitioners cannot request or initiate a federal unemployment extension individually, as this is a federally mandated program. A claimant who has exhausted all of his or her regular unemployment insurance cannot request an unemployment extension. The only time a request can be made is when California is experiencing high unemployment in accordance with federally established percentages and other federal regulations.

Tiers of Unemployment Benefits Extension in California

Unemployment benefits extension in CA is based on a four tier system. Regardless of the tier, payments are billed to the federal governing agency and not to the previous employer. Each unemployment extension tier varies in the number of weeks in which a claimant can receive benefits. Tier one and two are eligible for up to 14 weeks, while tier three is nine weeks and tier four is 10 weeks. Each tier is not accessible for the duration of an unemployment benefits extension period. Tiers are based on the percentage of state unemployment rate. California will remove tiers for new claims during federal unemployment extension periods as unemployment rates decrease. The EDD will notify a claimant regarding which tier he or she qualifies for once the applicant has been approved to receive extended benefits. The federal unemployment extension can end prior to the tier week limit when unemployment rates are lower than the determined unemployment rate percent for California.

Eligibility for Unemployment Compensation Extension in California

Have you asked “What can I do to extend unemployment?” In order to receive an unemployment benefits extension, claimants must have exhausted all regular unemployment insurance benefits. Potential claimants cannot be receiving any other UI benefits excluding disaster unemployment. Eligibility requirements for unemployment extension are similar to regular unemployment stipulations. Petitioners must be able and willing to accept suitable work. He or she is required to conduct weekly work search activities and report said activities to the EDD. Petitioners may accept part time and temporary work since many times this type of work has the potential to become a permanent full time position. In addition, unemployment insurance recipients getting extended benefits may be required to accept work with lower pay or different tasks customary to the recipient’s expected standard. Unemployed individuals should use all re-employment resources provided by the EDD to increase his or her chances of becoming employed faster. Failure to attend a scheduled re-employment services interview may result in denial of unemployment extension or regular UI benefits.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance in California

When an individual becomes unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster, he or she can receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance, which must be authorized by the President. The Department of Labor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinate in order to provide funds to California EDD and beneficiaries. Disaster assistance does not affect eligibility for federal unemployment extension and is claimed through a claimant’s local EDD office. Eligibility for disaster assistance includes: inability to reach place of employment, unable to work due to work place damage, injury due to major disaster, and no longer having a place to work. Disaster assistance can be claimed up to 26 weeks from the date the President declared a major disaster in the area. When contacting the EDD about a federal unemployment extension, claimants are required to disclose disaster assistance claims.