Skip Navigation Links

Unemployment Insurance


Seeking or Appealing Unemployment Claims and Benefits

Unemployment insurance (UI) provides payments to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Either the worker or the employer may dispute the California Employment Development Department's (EDD) decisions about eligibility for payments, amount of payments, or other issues. This guide lists resources for workers, employers and attorneys who are filing claims or dealing with disputes.

BASICS:

Unemployed workers can receive UI benefits if they meet eligibility requirements. When the worker ("claimant") first files the claim, the EDD interviews the worker to determine why he or she is unemployed and other eligibility criteria. The EDD then computes the potential benefit amount and sends a Notice of Computation to both the claimant and the former employer.

The claimant must submit "continued claim" forms every two weeks and attend periodic interviews. If eligibility problems come up, the department will hold an in-depth interview, then issue a written determination of eligibility. 

Either the employer or claimant can appeal an EDD decision. This "first level" appeal is heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) in the California Office of Appeals, who will issue a written decision.

After this first level appeal, any dissatisfied party (or the EDD itself) can make a "second level" appeal to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB). After hearing, the CUIAB will issue a written decision. 

At that point, any dissatisfied party can file a Petition for Writ of Mandate with the Superior Court. For information on the writ process, see our Legal Research Guide on Writs of Administrative Mandate (www.saclaw.org/pages/writ-administrative-mandate.aspx). 

1.  SELF HELP RESOURCES  

The books listed below are in the Law Library. You may also find copies available at your public library, in bookstores, or on publisher or agency websites.

For Claimants:

How to Win Your Unemployment Compensation Claim  HD 7103 .65 .U6 E33
(Self-Help)
This book discusses general principles of UI, including useful discussions on how to address potential obstacles to a claim, such as arguments that a termination was for misconduct or that an applicant voluntarily quit; a glossary; and case studies defining terms such as "willful misconduct," "able and available to work," and more. Although it is not state-specific, its examples are useful for California claimants.

Unemployment Insurance: A Guide to Benefits and Employment Services
KF 596 U54 (Self-Help & Spanish collections)
This EDD guide gives general information and sample forms related to applying for benefits, filing continued claims, training programs and other services.
Electronic access:  On the Internet at http://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Forms_and_Publications.htm  (Chinese, English, Spanish, Vietnamese)  

For Employers:

California Labor Law Digest KFC 556. A452
This book, published for business managers by the California Chamber of Commerce, includes information on unemployment insurance. Readers can also visit http://www.calchamber.com/Help/TechSupport/Pages/FormsDownloads.aspx for forms and other information; check the inside cover of the book for the current access code.

Managing Unemployment Insurance Costs KFC 596 .M36 
This 63-page EDD publication, written in plain English for employers, includes information on worker eligibility, benefits, and appeals; an example of the employer notification process; sample forms with explanations of their use; and a glossary.
Electronic access:  On the Internet at www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de4527.pdf

Appeals:

Unemployment Appeals: A Guide for Claimants, Employers and their Representatives KFC 596 .C35 (Self-Help)
This binder includes publications from the CUIAB written in plain English for claimants or employers facing an appeal. In addition to the general guide, the binder includes Appeals Procedure Before Administrative Law Judges and Twenty-Seven Ways to Avoid Losing Your Unemployment Appeal. Together they provide procedures, rules and tips for the CUIAB appeals process.
Electronic access:  On the Internet at:
Unemployment Appeals: A Guide for Claimants, Employers and their Representatives
www.cuiab.ca.gov/Documents/forms/unemploymentAppealsGuide.pdf
Appeals Procedure Before Administrative Law Judges
http://www.cuiab.ca.gov/Documents/cuiabAppealsProcedureManual.pdf   
Twenty-Seven Ways to Avoid Losing Your Unemployment Appeal
www.cuiab.ca.gov/Documents/forms/27Ways.pdf

2.  LEGAL ENCYCLOPEDIAS and LAW SUMMARIES  

These works, written by judges, attorneys and other legal experts, examine the law in more detail. They also review related statutes and case law. 

California Jurisprudence 3d. KF C80 .C35
Vol. 60 covers "Unemployment Compensation" in depth.
Electronic access:  On the law library computers, using Westlaw.

Witkin's Summary of California Law  KFC 80 .W57
In the "Agency and Employment" chapter, §§ 452-484 cover unemployment insurance.
Electronic access
:  On the law library computers, using Westlaw.

3.  PRACTICE GUIDES AND SPECIALIZED TEXTS

Advising California Employers and Employees KFC 556 .A38
This CEB publication covers all aspects of California labor and employment law. Unemployment insurance and benefits are covered in Chap. 8.
Electronic access:  On the law library computers, using OnLaw.  

Benefit Determination Guide KFC 596 .B45
The Benefit Determination Guide discusses state and federal law and regulations, as well as federal and state cases and Precedent Benefit Decisions issued by the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.  EDD personnel use the Benefit Determination Guide to make proper decisions about eligibility for UI benefits.
Electronic access:  On the Internet at www.edd.ca.gov/UIBDG/.

California Unemployment, Disability, and Paid Family Leave Insurance Programs
KFC 596 .O27
This book, written by retired UI administrative law judge David O'Brien, is aimed at employees and employers as well as attorneys. Topics range from the types of benefits available and who is eligible or ineligible for benefits to the appeals process and court rulings. If you need a single, comprehensive resource on UI law and practice, start with this book.
Electronic Access: On the Internet for free at http://www.judgeobrien.com/ui/index.html?home.html

California Administrative Mandamus  KFC 782 .C34
A party dissatisfied with the CUIAB's final decision can file a Petition for Writ of Mandate with the Superior Court. This practice guide is not UI specific, but contains the information necessary to pursue such a writ.
Electronic access:  On the law library computers, using OnLaw.

For additional information on the writ process, see our Legal Research Guide on Writs of Administrative Mandate (www.saclaw.org/pages/writ-administrative-mandate.aspx). 

4.  STATUTES, REGULATIONS, AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS

California unemployment insurance is affected by state and federal statutes, case law, and regulations. All of these resources are available at the Law Library.  In addition, the CUIAB publishes "precedent decisions." Unless modified by judicial review, precedent decisions are binding upon the EDD and the CUIAB's administrative law judges.

Precedent Decisions: Benefit Ruling, Tax and Disability (online) and
Index-Digest of Precedent Decisions: Benefit Ruling, Tax, and Disability
KFC 596 .A54 P7
The website also includes indexes by subject, numerical category, and code section; it also lists overruled, superseded, and modified precedent decisions.
Electronic access:  On the Internet at http://www.cuiab.ca.gov/Board/precedentDecisions/index.asp   

5.  WEBSITES AND FORMS

California Employment Development Department (EDD)
Home page:  www.edd.ca.gov
Unemployment Insurance: www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/
Forms:  www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Forms_and_Publications.htm
The EDD has guides and forms for all stages of the application process on its website. This web page also has samples of EDD notices, links to frequently asked questions, videos for applicants, and many online publications and fact sheets.
Video: How to Apply for UI
English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSuy5qXcLV8
Spanish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0G5WhI_dr8
Video: How to Complete the Continued Claim Form
English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PQe7Nko5NI     
Spanish, Pt 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxquOn80AsQ
Spanish, Pt 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmUpZSXu7AE 

The California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB)
Home page: www.cuiab.ca.gov
Precedent Decisions: http://www.cuiab.ca.gov/Board/precedentDecisions/index.asp  
The CUIAB conducts hearings of cases concerning claims for unemployment and disability benefits. These cases are appeals of determinations made by the Employment Development Department (EDD). The CUIAB also holds hearings on petitions from taxpayers concerning assessments made by EDD's Tax Branch.
Video: How to Prepare for Your Appeal Hearing
http://www.cuiab.ca.gov/AppealInfo/Video/player1.html  

6.  COMMUNITY RESOURCES

VLSP Employment Law Clinic
551-2102
517 12th St., Sacramento
Services provided: advice on the denial of unemployment benefits and other employment disputes. Call for an appointment. Income restrictions apply.

Legal Services of Northern California
551-2150
515 12th Street, Sacramento
Services provided: assistance for workers whose unemployment claims have been denied.
Call at 8:30 a.m. for same-day appointment.

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS GUIDE, OR IF YOU NEED HELP FINDING OR USING THE MATERIALS LISTED, PLEASE ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN.   

 04/13 kf