Updated: 2021-03-12 by
In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Among other things, the CARES Act created several new unemployment programs, intended to make unemployment benefits more generous and extend them to more people who have lost work due to COVID-19. Congress has twice extended these programs, most recently in the American Rescue Plan that became law on March 11, 2021.
These programs are:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This program extends unemployment benefits to those who have lost jobs or work because of the coronavirus pandemic but are not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits. If you have lost work due to COVID-19 but don't qualify for regular benefits because you can't meet California's work history requirement, you have used up your state benefits, or you are self-employed (which includes working as a freelancer, gig worker, or other contract worker), you may qualify for up to 79 total weeks of benefits under the PUA program. Learn more about the PUA program here, including eligibility rules and benefit amounts.
- Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC). This program gave $600 more per week to everyone who is receiving unemployment benefits, whether they are receiving traditional benefits or benefits under the PUA program. However, these benefits were available only through the last full week of benefits payable in July 2020. Congress recently renewed the program at a lower rate: Claimants will be eligible for $300 per week (or $400 per week, for certain claimants who have self-employment income) from December 26, 2020 until September 6, 2021. Learn more about how California calculates unemployment benefits.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This program provides an additional 53 weeks of benefits to those who are still out of work when their state benefits run out. This program expires September 6, 2021. Find out how long your benefits will last in California.
You may also be interested in:
Learn what unemployment insurance benefits are and where to go in California to get more information about them.
Find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits in California and where to go to learn more.
Learn about the formula California will use to calculate your unemployment benefits.