How Much Can You Make And Still Collect Unemployment Benefits in California

Just for the sake of clarity, let us state that Unemployment Benefits are a kind of social security, a kind of social safety net put in place to provide financial assistance to vulnerable members of society- those who have lost their jobs; and so have no source of income. The state of California believes that every individual desire to earn a decent living while doing dignified work that utilizes his talents. Mind you, the unemployment benefits are not designed to be a permanent source of income.

If you have lost your job and meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits set by the California law, you can get unemployment checks paid to you while you work out your present situation and work elsewhere. Of course, the amount of money one can use will be different from person to person. The state works out how much to give to each person depending on how much they have earned during the period they were employed.

 Therefore, how much unemployment benefits you will get from the state of California will depend on your earnings during the three-month period before you filed your claim. The tenure of these payments is usually 26 weeks, but that time limit has been extended to help people cope with the recent economic setbacks.

How much can you receive?

The maximum payment you can receive from the state of California as an unemployment benefit is $450 per week. But as we have mentioned in the paragraph directly above, the amount of money a person can receive depends on his earnings for 3 months while he was working, before he became unemployed. 

That raises a question: what happens when a person finds some part-time work? How much work is considered part-time work? How much money can a person make and still collect unemployment benefits in California? 

How much Money can You make and still Collect Unemployment Benefits in California?

Because part-time work may not pay sufficiently to cover the cost of your living expenses, and because part-time work is not usual steady, the state does not consider part-time work enough to withdraw unemployment benefits.

Therefore, if you have found some part-time work during the course of the week, you may still be eligible for partial benefits. Here is what you should know: The first 25 percent of your earnings do not count against your unemployment; however, the rest of your earnings are subtracted from your unemployment benefit for that week. What is left then becomes your partial benefits. For example, if you are entitled to the maximum benefit of $450 per week, but you earn $275 from part-time work for that week, your benefits payment should be $200.

The obvious reason why most unemployed people shy away from part-time work is that they fear they will no longer receive their unemployment benefits. Well, that fear is unfounded. As long as you are not employed full-time, you will continue to receive the unemployment benefits until the expiration of the term.

Many people think they deserve more because they have minor children to take care of. Let us address that next.

How much can I receive if I have Dependents?

Unfortunately, California does not have a dependency allowance for people who are unemployment benefit recipients. There are several reasons for this, including the fact such an arrangement could be misused, and many people with children would just relax, rather than find work. Therefore, you do not receive extra benefits if you are responsible for the care of any minor children. You could only receive the maximum amount of $450 per week if your earnings, while you were working, qualifies you for that amount. This is the case regardless of how many minor children you have to take care of.  

How to make the most of Unemployment Benefits

California allows residents to receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. However, one must keep in mind that these 26 weeks can run by really quickly, and so it is important to find work as soon as possible. This will help you maintain that safety net, rather than use it up at once. Here is what we mean: because you can be entitled to the maximum unemployment benefit of $450 per week, you can therefore receive up to $11,700 during a one-year period. But you can spend up that reserve, and be left out in the cold.

It is, therefore, better to find some part-time work so as to save you some time on the unemployment scheme. As soon as you get a job, you contact the state to discontinue your unemployment benefits. If for some reason that job ends, you can then re-open your claim, and continue to receive benefits if you have received less than the yearly maximum amount for unemployment benefits.

What You Need to Know about Filing for Unemployment Benefits?

It is possible to file your claim for unemployment benefits online, by phone, by fax, or by mail. You can find information on how to do so on the EDD site.

Once you have applied, the EDD will send you some documents, including a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award. In that document, you will find how much you will receive weekly.

If you were fired or quit your job, the EDD may need to conduct a telephone interview in order to decide whether you qualify for benefits.



The state encourages every unemployed individual to explore every possible avenue of finding work- even part-time work. This will expose you to more opportunities because sometimes, what starts as part-time work can end up being a dependable job that enables one to develop properly, and earn a decent living. Besides, when people take these part-time jobs, it could amount to a big relief to the state as they will have to hand out lesser amounts in unemployment benefits.   


Please note that this site is not affiliated with the State of California. The information in this article is produced for general information only, and cannot be substituted for professional advice. Neither the author nor the publishers of this website are liable for any damages that may occur from your use of misuse of this information. Please contact a lawyer, or any other professional for guidance before doing anything.