Unemployment Insurance Application Guidance for Gig Workers Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

The following is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.  

Before applying for UI, gather the following information: 

  • Your social security number
  • Your driver’s license
  • Dates of employment for all companies within the last 18 months
  • Earnings statements for the last 18 months, for all companies you worked with during that time. Also prepare the total quarterly earnings you made for each company you worked with during the last 18 months.
  • Mailing addresses for all employers for the last 18 months.

Uber Technologies, Inc. OR Rasier LLC
1455 Market St., 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
(800) 593-7069

Lyft, Inc. OR Lyft Center, Inc.
185 Berry St., Suite 5000
San Francisco, CA 94107
(855) 865-9553

  • To start the Unemployment Insurance application, apply online here:
  • The EDD has also created helpful informational Youtube videos to help guide you through this process:EnglishSpanish | Cantonese | Vietnamese | Mandarin
  • Workers without a permanent address can use General Delivery through USPS, which will allow you to pick up your mail at your local Post Office.
    • Enter “General Delivery” in the street address field, and include the city, state, and zip code where you reside.

Completing the UI Online Application


  • When asked to list your immediate supervisor, list “Not Applicable,” if appropriate.
  • Workers are eligible for unemployment benefits if they lose their job through no fault of their own and are ready and willing to work. We’re hearing that the following scenarios are common among gig workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
    • A driver who is working less because the demand for rides has decreased, may choose “Still Working Part Time” and “Related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).”
    • A driver who is completely unable to work because there are no ride or delivery requests, may select “Laid Off/No Work” and “Related to coronavirus (COVID-19).”
    • A driver who is unable to work due to a lack of childcare, may select “Quit” and “No Child Care.”
    • A driver who has a health condition that requires them to self-isolate, may select “Quit” and “Safety Concerns/Working Conditions.”.


  • You may select “Yes” if you worked for any employer between 10/01/2018 to 12/31/2019.
  • Be sure to list all companies you’ve worked for over the last 18 months and provide the required information for each
  • Be sure to list out your “gross” or total wages for each three-month period included in the form. You may need to submit documents verifying these amounts, such as screenshots of your earnings.


  • For Uber or Lyft’s business, they can be listed as a “Private Employer.”
  • The type of business Uber and Lyft operate is “Trans, Comm, Gas Electric & Sanitary” – “Transportation Services.”
  • Workers for Uber and Lyft can be described as “Taxi Driver” – “Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs.”


  • Drivers are not required to list that they are “self-employed.” EDD will make its own determination regarding the status of drivers who apply.


  • If you have lost work or cannot work because of COVID-19 (which affects most workers), you may select “Yes” when asked whether your unemployment is result of a recent disaster. In question 1(a) select “Public Health.”
  • For most workers it is appropriate to select “Unemployed Worker” in question 1 (e). You are not required to select options suggesting you are self-employed, even if your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor.
  • If you are unable to work because the head of your household is sick, you can select “Head of Household As a Result of the Disaster.”

After you submit your application

Important Notices You Will Receive from the EDD in the Mail:

  • About 2-3 weeks after you submit your application, EDD will either e-mail or mail you a document titled NOTICE OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIM FILED or NOTICE OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AWARD. These forms may be delayed because of the huge numbers of people applying for unemployment. If you do not get anything from EDD within three weeks, you should contact EDD.
    • Despite the title, a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award does not mean that you have been approved for benefits, and the form may indicate that you are not eligible for benefits.
    • What to do if your Notice of Award says you are ineligible for benefits?
      • Many claimants may initially be deemed ineligible on the basis that EDD does not have records of their wages.  Because Uber and Lyft violate the law and don’t classify their drivers as employees, EDD does not have data about drivers’ earnings from those companies. To fix this, you must contact EDD to report any missing earnings or employers from the Notice of Award that you receive. You must correct any errors on your Notice within as few as 10 days of the mailing date of the Notice.  You should therefore contact EDD as soon as possible if the Notice you receive does not show all of your earnings from Uber and Lyft.
      • The easiest way to contact EDD is through Contact UI on UI Online.  Here are directions for how to contact EDD regarding missing earnings:o   Log onto UI Online at, click the UI Online button, and then click the “Contact Us” tab on the right side of the page.

        o   Select “Claim Questions” from the dropdown menu for “Question Category.”  Then select “Missing Wages from Claims” from the dropdown menu for “Question Topic.”

        o   Explain why EDD does not have your wage information.  You can write something like the following (filling in the underlined information):

        I am an employee driver of [Uber, Lyft, Uber & Lyft].  I was misclassified as an independent contractor, and my notice of award does not reflect the wages I earned while working for [Uber, Lyft, Uber & Lyft].

        According to data I received from [e.g., Uber], I earned $XX,XXX from January to March 2020.

        In 2019, according to the 1099-K I received from [e.g., Uber], I earned $XX,XXX from October to December; $XX,XXX from July to September; $XX,XXX from April and June; and $XX,XXX from from January to March.

        In 2018, according to the 1099-K I received from [e.g., Uber], I earned $XX,XXX from October to December 2018.

        [Repeat this information for every company that failed to report your earnings to the state.]

        o   If you did not receive a 1099-K, use the data available in the Uber or Lyft apps or your bank statements to see how much you earned from each company during each quarter of the year.

        o   Click “Submit.”

        o   You can also watch this video to help guide you through this process:

        o   After submitting this information, be sure to keep all the documentation you used to write your statement together in a place where you can easily find it.   As discussed below, an auditor from EDD should be in touch to receive that information and/or to schedule an interview.

    • What to do if you are deemed eligible but your notice does not list all of your earnings from Uber and Lyft?
      • You should follow the directions above under the “What to do if your Notice says you are ineligible for benefits?” section to submit further information about your earnings to EDD.
  • Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claim Filed (DE 1101CLMT): Summarizes the information you provided when you filed your claim. This information will be considered accurate unless you contact the EDD within 10 days from the date it was mailed. Failure to report accurate information may result in a disqualification, overpayment, or an overpayment and penalties.
  • Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award (DE 429Z): Indicates your weekly benefit amount and maximum claim amount, which are based on wages reported by your employer(s). Review the award notice for accuracy and contact Unemployment Insurance if the information is inaccurate within 30 days of the mail date of this notice. This notice also provides instructions on your work search requirements.
  • Employment Development Department (EDD) Customer Account Number (DE 5614): The EDD Customer Account Number is required to register for UI Online and may be used instead of your Social Security number when speaking to an EDD representative.
  • Unemployment Insurance Benefits: What You Need to Know (DE 1275B): A booklet to help you understand the eligibility requirements to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits.
  • Continued Claim (DE 4581): To certify for continued benefit payments, you must provide eligibility information to the EDD every two weeks through UI Online, EDD Tele-Cert, or by mail. For instructions on how to certify for continued benefits, refer to the booklet, Unemployment Insurance Benefits: What You Need to Know (DE 1275B) or the helpful UI Online videos.

Eligibility Determination Interview

  • You may also receive a notice from EDD that it would like to have a phone interview with you.
  • If you receive such a notice read it carefully, as it will provide a set date and time for your interview. If you miss your interview, EDD will evaluate your claim without the additional information that you can provide during the interview.
  • If you need to reschedule your interview, you can do so through UI Online by logging onto the system, clicking the UI Online button, and then clicking on the Reschedule Phone Interview link on the homepage.
  • The notice will either ask you to call a number to initiate the interview, or it will list your phone number that EDD will use to contact you.  Make sure you understand whether you will be calling EDD or instead EDD will call you, and that the phone number it lists for you is correct.
  • The notice will probably have a list of questions that the EDD interviewer will want to discuss with you.  Review those questions to make sure that you understand and can answer them.
  • At the time of your interview, either call the number for EDD (if your notice instructs you to call EDD) or be ready to receive EDD’s call (if the notice states that EDD will call you).
  • Have all of your documentation regarding earnings from Uber and Lyft (e.g. 1099s, bank statements) with you during the call, as the interviewer may want to discuss those documents.

Work Search Requirement

  • You are required to look for work each week, unless instructed otherwise by the EDD. The Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award (DE 429Z) includes your work search requirement.
  • Examples of looking for work include, contact with employers about a job: in-person, by mail, by phone, or online. It also includes searching for jobs: in newspapers, in other publications, or online. Failure to look for work could result in the delay or denial of your Unemployment Insurance benefit payments.

Appeals Process

  • You have the right to appeal the EDD’s decision to reduce or deny you benefits. You must submit your appeal in writing within 30 days of the mailing date on the Notice of Determination and/or Ruling (DE 1080CZ).
  • You can download the Appeal Form (DE 1000M) (PDF) or use the copy included with each Notice of Determination that you receive. Mail your appeal to the return address shown on the decision notice.
  • The Office of Appeals will notify you of the time and location of your hearing at least 10 days in advance. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will conduct the hearing, and give employers and claimants a chance to present their evidence.
  • For more information on how to prepare for your appeals hearing, read this FAQ from the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
  • While your appeal is pending, you must continue to certify for benefits. If you are found ineligible, you can only be paid for periods that you have certified for, if you have met all other eligibility requirements.
  • The ALJ will issue a written decision to you and your employer. The decision will include information about Filing a Second Level Appeal to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (Appeals Board.)