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Qualifying for Benefits

Qualifying for benefits is a three-step process:

  1. As soon as you file your application for benefits the department will determine whether you are financially eligible.
  2. If you are financially eligible, the department will determine if you have a qualifying separation from employment.
  3. If you are financially eligible and have a qualifying separation, you may qualify for benefits for weeks that you are totally or partially unemployed. You must satisfy all of the requirements in the UC Law (Law) to begin receiving UC and to maintain your eligibility for benefits.

Step One: Financial Eligibility

Are you financially eligible for benefits? You must have enough wages and weeks of work in your employment history to qualify for UC. This is known as "financial eligibility." You will receive a Notice of Financial Determination (Form UC-44F) from the department that will state whether you are financially eligible and, if you are, the amount of benefits you may receive. Your Notice of Financial Determination will be accompanied by an insert that fully explains financial eligibility. Read these documents carefully and follow all instructions that apply to you.

Step Two: Your Job Separation

Why are you unemployed? To qualify for benefits, you must be unemployed or working reduced hours through no fault of your own (a qualifying separation).

Generally, you have a qualifying separation if you are laid off due to lack of work. Some separations, however, are disqualifying. You are not eligible for benefits under the following circumstances:

  • You voluntarily quit your job without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature.
  • You are discharged or suspended for willful misconduct or because you failed to submit to and/or pass a drug or alcohol test.
  • You participate in a work stoppage determined to be a strike. (This disqualification does not apply to a lock-out).

There may be times when a department representative will contact you and your employer to discuss the reason for your separation from your job. If you and your employer disagree on the reason for your unemployment, or any other issues arise that may affect your eligibility for benefits, you will be given a chance to provide information and explain your side of the story. For example, you may receive a questionnaire to complete and return. If benefits are denied, you will receive a written determination, which you can appeal. (See Your Appeal Rights)

If you are already receiving benefits when a question arises about your eligibility, you will receive an Advance Notice form stating that your eligibility for benefits is being reviewed and your receipt of benefits may be affected. The Advance Notice form will give you a chance to give information about your eligibility for UC benefits. You will continue to receive benefits unless a written determination of ineligibility is issued.

REMEMBER! Promptly complete and return all forms you receive from the UC service center to avoid delays and to explain your side of the story.

Working Part Time: You may be eligible for benefits if (1) your regular hours of work are reduced, (2) you are separated from your job and have obtained part-time employment with fewer hours of work, or (3) you are separated from one job but continue to have part-time employment with another employer(s). If you are working your normal, full-time hours in any job during a week, you are not eligible for benefits for that week.

Step Three: Maintaining Eligibility

Have you met the continuing requirements? If you are financially eligible and your separation from employment is qualifying, you must satisfy certain requirements on a continuing basis in order to remain eligible for benefits. The following chapter will explain those requirements.

UC Introduction

UC Handbook home page

Maintaining Your Eligibility for Benefits.