Unemployment Insurance and Other CA Programs

Unemployment Insurance

If you have lost work or have had your hours reduced we encourage you to apply for Employment Development Department (EDD) Unemployment Insurance (UI). In California, Governor Newsom has waived the one-week waiting period for benefits and is looking at expanding UI claim offerings.

For comprehensive guidance and resources about state benefits related to employment and COVID-19, we highly recommend this FAQ page from EDD.

NEWLY ADDED In addition, here is the May 1 EDD webinar on “Assistance Programs for Workers during COVID-19” presentation slides.

As of March 17, 2020, our Santa Barbara and Santa Maria America’s Job Centers of California (AJCCs) are closed to the public.   This includes EDD Workforce Services, located at each AJCC.  There are multiple ways to file for Unemployment Insurance:

  • By-phone: Representatives are available at the following toll-free numbers, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon Pacific Time except on state holidays.
    • English 1-800-300-5616
    • Spanish 1-800-326-8937
    • Cantonese 1-800-547-3506
    • Mandarin 1-866-303-0706
    • Vietnamese 1-800-547-2058
    • TTY 1-800-815-9387
  • By Mail or by Fax: File your UI claim by accessing the paper Unemployment Insurance Application. For faster and secure processing, fax the completed application to the number listed on the form. If you mail your application, use the address on the form and allow additional time for processing.  If any of the items below pertains to you, it is best that you file a claim using the paper Unemployment Insurance claim process:
  • How to Apply for UI Benefits (File a Claim) (YouTube)
    English | Spanish | Cantonese | Vietnamese | Mandarin

In the case that you do not have access to a computer or do not have a phone to receive calls or an email, access to a phone or computer to reach Unemployment Insurance will be provided by the AJCC by appointment only.  For general information or appointments, connect the AJCC at Santa Maria, 805.614.1550 or Santa Barbara, 805.568.1393.  For information and available resources during the closure of the AJCC, please feel free to email the following:

Other Benefits

Click on this link to view a matrix summarizing all the benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19.

Paid sick leave law provides time off to many workers. You are entitled to use whatever sick leave you have accumulated.

California law provides for paid family leave, which you may be eligible for if you are providing care for an ill or quarantined family member.

In the event of a particularly long illness, you may be eligible for disability benefits, provided your illness is certified by a medical professional.

If you were exposed to COVID-19 while on the job and in the course of your regular duties, you may also qualify for workers’ compensation.

For all part-time, intermittent, reduced hours, and reduced wage situations, the Employment Development Department (EDD) suggests that you file a claim, and after we receive your properly completed claim, we will determine if you are eligible for Disability Insurance (DI) or Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic. The provisions of the program once operational include:

  • Up to 39 weeks of benefits starting with weeks of unemployment beginning February 2, 2020, through the week ending December 31, 2020, depending on when you became directly impacted by the pandemic.
  • An additional $600 to each PUA weekly benefit amount you may be eligible to receive, as part of the separate CARES Act Pandemic Additional Compensation program. Only the weeks of a claim between March 29 and July 31 are eligible for the extra $600 payments.

Click here for a COVID-19 Guide to Applying for Unemployment Benefits.


Contact Office of Emergency Management

4408 Cathedral Oaks Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93110
Phone: 805-681-5526