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How to Collect

Collecting Benefits

This section will describe the process of claiming benefits from the EDD once a person is determined monetarily eligible and there are no issues present.

Generally speaking, you simply need to fill out and return form DE 4581 every two weeks, and no later than the date specified. When you receive payment, be sure to read the message stub and fill out the new DE 4581.

Mandatory Waiting Period

The first otherwise payable week on each claim is called a Waiting Period. This week is a non-paid week. No money is deducted from the Maximum Benefit Amount; the week is just non-payable.

It is described as "otherwise payable," meaning that there are no disqualifications or other reasons the week would not be paid other than it being the Waiting Period. Normally, this is the first week of the claim.

Weekly Filings

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California uses a paper certification process to claim UI benefits. The Continued Claim form (DE 4581) must be completed by the claimant and submitted every two weeks. You cannot submit this online, it must be through the mail.

DE 4581 will be mailed to you as necessary by the EDD after you successfully apply, and while you are collecting benefits.

DE 4581 asks questions for each week claimed. If there are no answers that raise an issue, a check will be mailed for each week that is payable.

It is critical to fully complete, sign, and mail DE 4581 on time. It is worth noting the following aspects of the DE 4581:


The claim form will clearly state the date which is the last date the form can be mailed to be considered timely. If it is submitted late the Department will schedule a determination interview to discuss the reasons it was mailed late. The benefits will be paid only if the claimant can establish good cause for failure to mail it on time.

Eligibility Questions

The form DE 4581 asks eligibility questions for each week such as was the claimant able and available for and actively seeking work. In addition, it asks if the claimant refused any work. Answers to any of these questions that raise an issue will result in payment being stopped until the question is resolved.

Work and Earnings

The form has places to report work and earnings for each week. The claimant indicates the amount of earnings and the name and address of the employer(s).

Failure to correctly indicate work and earnings for each week UI benefits are claimed will be investigated by the EDD and could result in administrative and/or criminal penalties. The EDD runs various audits with employers to detect unreported wages and usually knows when there are discrepancies.

Federal Income Tax withholding

UI Benefits are taxable for federal income tax purposes. A question on the DE 4581 asks if the claimant would like the tax withheld. If the claimant has the tax withheld the Department will mail a form 1099G at the end of the year stating the amount of UI money paid in that year. Remember that if not enough taxes are withheld or paid quarterly, the IRS will impose penalties.


The DE 4581 must be signed. If unsigned the Department cannot pay benefits and will reissue a form to obtain a signature. This will delay benefits.

Receiving the Payment

If there are no issues or unanswered questions on the DE 4581 the EDD will mail a check to the address of record. The form contains the check, the next week(s) claim form and a detachable stub that contains messages about the status of the claim such as the week(s) being paid and the current balance on the claim.

The Message Stub

The stub should be read carefully as the EDD also uses the stub to communicate other UI information such as your ability to collect additional benefits in times of high unemployment or when there is a declared natural disaster.