How Much Can I Earn While Receiving Unemployment Benefits in California?

By Jack Ori
Some Californians who exhaust state unemployment benefits qualify for a federal extension.

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If you lost your job due to layoffs or other reasons that are not your fault, don't panic. You probably qualify for unemployment benefits if you earned and worked more than the minimum required by the California Unemployment Development Department. As a resident of the state, you may be eligible for up to $450 per week while searching for another job.

Maximum Weekly Benefit

As of April 2011, unemployment recipients in California receive between $25 and $450 per week, depending on the amount of money made during the base period -- the last four of the last five quarters of employment. The greater the applicant's earnings during this base period, the more they receive in weekly benefit payments.

Part-Time Work

If you work part-time during the course of the week, you may still be eligible for partial benefits. The first 25 percent of your earnings do not count against your unemployment; subtract the rest of your earnings from your unemployment benefit for that week to determine the partial benefits. For example, if you are entitled to the maximum benefit of $450 and earn $275 in a week, your benefits payment amount is $200.

No Dependency Allowance

California does not have a dependency allowance for unemployment benefit recipients. Thus, you do not receive extra benefits if you are responsible for supporting minor children. The most you can receive in a week is $450, regardless of how many minor children you support during the week. Even if California had dependency allowances, your total payment probably could not exceed the maximum benefit amount.

Maximum Length of Time

As of 2011, California allows residents to receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. If you are entitled to the maximum unemployment benefit of $450 per week, you can therefore receive up to $11,700 in unemployment benefits over the course of a year. If you are hired for part-time or full-time work, you may be able to re-open your claim if that job ends and continue to receive benefits if you have received less than the yearly maximum amount.

About the Author

Jack Ori has been a writer since 2009. He has worked with clients in the legal, financial and nonprofit industries, as well as contributed self-help articles to various publications.

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