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COVID-19 EDD Services for Independent Contractors and Self Employed Individuals


As part of the federal CARES Act, the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians.These include business owners, independent contractors, self employed individuals, those with limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state UI benefits who are out of business or whose services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic. As this is a new program, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will be accepting on-line applications for this program beginning on Tuesday, April 28. If approved, the program would provide:

  • Up to 39 weeks of benefits starting with weeks of unemployment beginning February 2, 2020, through the week ending December 26, 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 25 are eligible for the extra $600 payments.

Benefits can be retroactive to weeks starting on or after February 2, 2020, depending on your last day of work due to COVID-19 and regardless of when you submitted your claim application.The effective date of your claim will begin the Sunday of the week when you last worked and became unemployed due to reasons directly related to COVID-19.

For more information about the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, please visit the EDD’s Pandemic unemployment assistance website. For further information about the program, including the latest updates on questions related to the program, please visit the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQ.


If you are self-employed, you may have benefits available from EDD unemployment insurance programs that you or your employer may have paid into over the past 5 to 18 months. You may have contributions from a prior job, or you could have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee. Apply for the benefit program that best fits your situation and include details about your employment to help the EDD process your claim. To apply for Unemployment Insurance, please visit the EDD unemployment website.