EDD: “Piece work” not “Freelance”

Disclaimer: I am not now nor have I ever been employed by the Employment Development Department; nor am I a lawyer or a counselor. I’m getting so many calls and e-mails, though, that I am simply digging into it and letting you know what I have found. You must, must must check the regulations in your state and look into what pertains to you specifically. Here is the link to CA EDD‘s Web site for the latest information.


I’ve been through this before, so maybe I just don’t look as if I have a coal fire burning in my tummy every day.

During my first layoff almost nine years ago, in the post-9/11 world, I was warned by a California Employment Development Department caseworker assigned to me that any attempt at freelancing would be seen as self-employment and that I would be disqualified from receiving further benefits.

It felt like death. Not write? “Oh, you can write,” the caseworker said sympathetically, “but you can’t get paid for it.”

Turns out that is not exactly the case. As long as you’re doing the odd job, which you must declare on line 6 of your continued claim form, you may write “piece work” in the “Reason No Longer Working” blank. See pages 20-21 online, pp 15-16 in the print form, under how to fill out your claim form, line 6. What the caseworker probably meant was that I could not set myself up in the freelancing business.

Even freelance jobs have been hard to land anyway, and I have not had a long-term (as in month-to-month with the same employer) project since my layoff a few months ago. EDD does address that on the same pages noted above, and they may begin to consider that kind of month-to-month gig for a single employer as “part-time” work. Part time for someone else won’t necessarily get you cut off, but the state raises an eyebrow if you look as if you’re going to make it after all, Mary Richards.

But as long as I’ve put “piece work” in the blank, I have had no phone calls, emails, cutoffs or other trouble. I dare – just dare – to say that you can’t let your vanity rule here. I’ve heard of people claiming “freelance” and “contractor” in the blank, and they are cut off immediately. I’m simply doing what the EDD instructs, though it makes me giggle to put “piece work” as if I’d actually produced a dress or some other useful thing.

The point is simple: The EDD will not support those striking out on their own. As the counselor explained to me back in 2001, there are programs for that, and she recommended SCORE. It’s a great organization; soooo not the same thing, but there you go.

It would be nice if the government recognized and supported the idea that entrepreneurship may be the next wave for most of us. But for now, just write “piece work” in the blank and get back to repairing engines, writing op-ed pieces, or picking up the odd job.


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71 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. very informative. thanks! what i’m unclear about is, was your piece-work pay still deducted from your benefits?

    • Hi Rita,

      Thanks for your kind comment!

      Here’s the way it works: You can keep the first $25 of what you earn up to $100, and 25% of earnings of $101 or above for the week in question. The following week you will be paid according to your normal benefit amount.

      In other words, if you make $20 you must declare it, but you can keep all of it. If you make up to $100, you may keep $25, and if you make $200 you can keep $50, etc. What I can not say for sure is whether that money is kept in reserve for you at the end of your claim, and I wish I knew the answer to that!

      One thing I have heard over and over is not to miss reporting those earnings, even if it’s under $25. Earnings to you will be reported by the people who paid you, so the EDD is not kidding when they say they will know.

      If anyone is looking for a reference, here is the link to the EDD PDF booklet: http://www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de1275a.pdf You’ll want to look at p.16 in the print booklet, p. 21 online.

      Good luck, Rita!

  2. Rita, quick question…whose name did you put for the employer? did you put your name and then piece work or the person you did the piece work for even though they aren’t technically your employer? thanks so much!!

    • Hi Debbie,

      This is Anne responding for “Here’s Why.”

      Put the name of the person/business for whom you did the piece work in the space marked “Employer name and mailing address.” What the EDD wants to know is who paid you. Generally, anyone who gives you money for a service is an employer. It doesn’t have to be for full-time work.

      In a way you are protecting yourself here as well. Remember that there are federal minumum wage laws, and laws requiring employers to report wages, and a number of other legal things that I’m not qualified to talk about. So it’s not only that the government wants to know that you aren’t double-dipping.

      Thanks for reading, and I hope this helped.

      Good luck to you, Debbie!

  3. Thank you Ann, I think I understand now..the reason I suggested that “employer” wasn’t the technical term was due to the fact that this individual will be 1099’ing me as an independent contractor, so in a fact I am self-employed or freelance. However, because you noted that the people that put those terms run into difficulties, I am going to state that this individual is my employer and that I am doing piece work even though she will not be giving me a W4. It seems like this isn’t the right thing to put on the form but I guess maybe it doesn’t matter as long as the money is being reported. I doubt highly if there will be complications if they find out later that she wasn’t my employee in legal terms. What are your thoughts on this? If you have any other suggestions about what I just wrote please comment. I have been googling this all day and it seems like there are quite a few people in the same boat! :p oh and sorry I got you confused with Rita!

    • Thanks, Debbie!

      It’s best if you read the EDD booklet to see what they say about this.

      I would guess that if you will be doing regular work for the same employer each week, it could be considered part-time whether you list it as piece work or not.

      Make sure to fill in the “reason no longer working” slot accurately. It’s piece work if it’s a start-and-stop deal, but if you are working a few hours for someone every week, you may get a call about that to verify your status.

      Remember, too, I am not an EDD employee so I can’t tell you for certain.

      Soooo … here’s the ASK EDD page.

      You may have better luck with old-fashioned snail mail. Here’s the general page for EDD mailing addresses.

      Good luck!

  4. […] EDD: “Piece work” not “Freelance” […]

  5. Dear Rita,

    Thanks for your insights, very helpful indeed. Perhaps you can help me with a little clarification.

    I’m a little confused about the calculations on declared earnings. (…If you make up to $100, you may keep $25, and if you make $200 you can keep $50, etc.) When you say keep $50- of $200- does that mean that $150- will be deducted from you benefit? Does the amount of hours also effect this ratio?

    It doesn’t seem they offer much incentive to get people circulating again which is half the battle.

    Cheers, Karl

    • Hi Karl,

      This is Anne responding for Here’s Why. It’s the amount you earn, not the number of hours, that affects the deduction. Yes, 75% of your piecework income comes off one week of your claim. The incentive is that you can keep 25% of it. In other words, if you claim $200, then $150 will be deducted from your check.

      Be aware that the issue of temp work arises when the work you do adds up to two weeks’ employment. Currently, after two weeks of work a claim is closed, meaning it has to be reopened if the work stops after that duration. The glitch is that the new claim is not based on the original, but rather on the past few months of income, which can result in dreadful penalties. See H.R.4213: Hope for UI deadline extension, relief from ‘temping penalty’ for the latest post on that.

      See the EDD site for more information. I’m neither a lawyer nor an EDD rep, so be sure you base your work habits and claim forms on the official information available there.

      Thanks for writing!


  6. This is exactly the information I was looking for. Thank you! I was wondering if you had any insight on this language for reduced earnings: “The first 25% does not count” mean? Does not count…for what?

    I currently have a contract for piecework – basically, one piece will be published each week at $100/week. I declared the first week’s work on my last check (as freelance) and my check was reduced accordingly. My question is – will the net result be the same if I declare $100 each week or $600 (well, $500) at the end of the six weeks? Or $0 one week and $200 the next week? I am a math idiot, and can’t figure out if my “net” will be the same regardless.

    Your site is so helpful. Thank you so much.

  7. Hi Zee,

    EDD is pretty clear about this on their site (see link to pp. 20-21 in the blog post). You must declare all earnings for the week that you worked, so don’t save it up for the end of the month.

    Though the wording is a bit awkward, here’s the deal: You can keep up to the first $25 dollars that you earn, but you must still declare it as income. In other words, if you do any piecework for $25 or less, your next benefits check will not be reduced. It will be reduced by the formula the EDD uses if you make more than $25.

    Don’t, whatever you do, try and play math games with the EDD. Or any kind of games, for that matter. They have a procedure that they’d like you to follow and the smoothest road is to comply.

    Good luck to you, Zee! Hope this was of some help.

    ~~ Anne

    • Thanks so much! So basically, no matter what you earn, you get to keep 25$ (not 25%) per week?

      I didn’t have any problem with my first check, and I put “freelance” and the name of the person the project was for, but after reading this, I will change it to piece work.

      I know I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s so discouraging to come out behind financially by WORKING–as the little money that you earn will be taxed. It doesn’t seem worth it, especially considering that as a freelancer, you don’t even know when you will be getting paid (if ever) — something that the EDD system does not allow for.

      • Hi Zee,

        Thanks for writing back.Actually, you get to keep 25% of what you earn above the first $25. So yes, the first $25 does not count in their calculation, as it is all yours. According to the EDD site, you can also keep 25% of the rest of your piecework pay if it’s more than $25, and the remaining amount is deducted from your UI check for that week.

        So no, it’s not just $25.

        Good luck with your job search and your other endeavors!

        ~~ Anne

  8. Hello.

    I am in a similar situation. I am going to take on one assignment that pays $500.

    Should I report it on my claim form during the week in which I worked (even though I won’t be paid for a month) or the week in which I got a paycheck and actually have income coming in?

    I’d prefer to report it the week that I actually have a check in my hand–sometimes clients don’t pay so I’d hate to lose out on my benefits.

    Let me know how you handle this . Thanks.

    • Hi GenX,

      Thanks for writing. As you know, I am not with the EDD so I can’t give you an official answer or suggest what you should do. I can tell you that I personally was advised – completely off the record and unofficially by an off-duty EDD rep – to wait until the check had cleared because of that non-payment issue.

      That’s a half-answer, I know. But it’s the best I can offer at the moment!

      Good luck on your project!

      ~~ Anne

  9. Hello Ann,

    As far as “piece work,” are you working on a flat rate? Your initial post is not clear. If you’re really on an hourly or day-rate, that could come back to haunt you. Just saying.

    • Hello, RM.

      Thanks for your post. No; I am not running a business or charging a flat rate. I do, however, accept piecework if it comes up. I charge an agreed-upon fee for the project, and I declare it on my claim form accordingly. I don’t have any standing contracts, or any agreements which constitute ongoing employment of any kind. I’m devoting my time to finding full-time work, but unfortunately for us writers, often we aren’t even considered without the odd current article to prove ourselves to potential employers. Hence, piecework – kind of an audition for future possibilites.

      Your point is well taken, though – and I repeat that UI is not to aid in setting anyone up in business. But we are allowed to take the odd piece from time to time.

      Not sure if that answers your question, though? Let me know.

      ~~ Anne

  10. Hi Anne,

    Thank you. I’m also a laid off writer and don’t consider myself to be running a business while looking for a new full-time job.

    Occasionally I work on a flat rate for a project (piece work), but most often I’m on an hourly and the job lasts until the project is completed.

    I had a confusing interview the other week with the EDD, which seems to have gone okay as a check came in today’s mail and my claim has been reactivated. However, the interviewer told me something that contradicts everything I’ve ever heard, and that is in my situation not to report income during the weeks I work but to report it when I get paid.

    I emailed the EDD today to get confirmation or denial of such a policy. I also asked what I should enter on question 6, section b. I’ll let you know what I find out.


    – R

    • Hi R,

      I currently find myself in the same situation and I just wanted to see what was the response you finally received from EDD regarding your email? Also was this for CA EDD?

      Any update you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you,

  11. Thanks, R.!

    That is an interesting development, and sounds very like what I was told by the off-duty EDD employee. I’m not surprised at the confusion. You almost need a law degree to read the EDD pages.

    I’m glad they restarted your claim. I am finding that with few exceptions, if you are making every effort to be honest and you don’t take your angst out on the agents, they will really try and help you out.

    I’ve been called out for that by other posters, though. How is everyone else finding EDD communication?

    Thanks again, R, and good luck!

    ~~ Anne

  12. How do you handle reporting of freelance assignment income if you go into the assignment without a clear idea of how much you would get paid?

    I recently took on such an assignment in part because I trusted the editor that I would be treated fairly. It was my first freelance job ever.

    The assignment stretched over three weeks, and I wasn’t paid until it was over. The problem was when I reported the work on my claim form and put down zero in the income line (because I hadn’t been paid yet), that triggered an interview with the EDD. The lady who interviewed me said I should have put down a guestimate of how much I would be paid.

    She chastised me for incorrectly filling out the form. She said I was considered self-employed as a freelancer, and the freelance job meant that I was no longer unemployed. Long story short, she said, it would no longer qualify for UI.

  13. Firstly, I’m so glad to have found your blog!
    Two questions:
    1. Someone has hired me to do some piecework for them. They are more like my client than my employer, so there are no 1099’s or anything to be filed. If I name them in Section 6b, but there is no 1099 down the road, will that get them or me in trouble?
    2. If I report the work they’ve paid me for as two different ‘pieceworks’, each taking one week, but occurring over two consecutive weeks, will that be considered two weeks of employment and I’ll be cut off from benefits?

    • Hi Nervous and Twitchy (love the name – so many of us feel that way!),

      I wish I could answer properly, but I’m finding that there are so many exceptions to the convoluted rules. As I’ve said before, I’m not with EDD or the IRS or any other entity that could give a legal response, either. I realize that this will be like telling you to stock up on bandages instead of explaining how to avoid the injury, but even the experts are having trouble with this one.

      I’m hearing that these situations are dealt with essentially on a case-by-case basis. Everyone has a slightly different experience, sometimes depending on the individual cirumstances and sometimes depending on the interpretation of the rules by a caseworker.

      I’m lucky enough to have a Congressional rep who cares. When I called her office because I couldn’t get EDD assistance for a missing check, I was put through to the proper authorities and my case was resolved immediately.

      There is an appeals section on the EDD site, so if you follow what they tell you to do and things go awry, you can file an appeal there. Otherwise, you could try calling your Congressional representative, too, and see if that speeds things up.

      One good thing is that the new regulations mean that if you are hired for temp work, you can return to your original UI claim level if your temp work expires before your initial claim does. That might help you with the two-week issue but again, it will depend on how the EDD interprets your particular case.

      In the meantime, I found this link under a forum called “Labor Law Talk“: http://www.justanswer.com/brands/California%20Law?r=ppc|ga|6|Law+%2D+State+%2D+California|Employment+Law+%2D+1&ofid=39&JCLT=California+Law&JPKW=ca%20employee%20laws&JPDC=C&JPST=www.laborlawtalk.com&JPAD=5561498932&JPAF=txt&JPCD=20101006&JPRC=1&JPOP=Cass_ExpertEmpLaw_Paul&forceexpertdisplay=10285032&gclid=CKX8g6PB0KQCFSNsgwodw2mNzQ

      I’ve never used it and can not vouch for it.

      I would say “hope that helped,” but I dare say it didn’t … sorry not to be of more assistance. Any comments from other readers who have been through this?

      In any case, good luck.

      ~~ Anne

  14. Hi Anne,
    My 1st year unemployment has expired the begining of this month. I was approved for an extention but my claim expired at the same time.
    I called and they are opening up another claim,(they are tring to determine how to pay me, under the extension or the new claim) I do extra work in films, print ads, etc.I reported all my income, but the employers didn’t because they classified me as a Contractor.They are now requesting that I send copies of all checks that were paid to me. WHat do you suggest that I do. I didnt keep copies because it was just checks paid for flat rates ie 500.00 for up to 8hrs for a print job once again, I did report all the income on my weekly claim form. Do you think I will lose my benefits because the employers considered me as a contractor? Please advise???

    • Hi there, ET:

      I must stress that I’m not with the unemployment department, nor am I a lawyer or in any other way qualified to advise you.

      I would think, though, that the companies who paid you will have records of it, and that they should be able to supply you with check copies or other proof of payment.

      Here’s a page from the California EDD site that might help you figure things out, though: “Total and Partial Unemployment TPU 460.6”. If you look down the page at Section C, D and E, you will find how California handles residuals, holding fees (“D.Holding Fees
      A holding fee is a payment made to a performer (e.g., actor, singer, dancer) with respect to the filming of a commercial.”) and other issues a performer might encounter.

      I can’t interpret these regulations for you because, as I stated before, I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I hope the link helps, though, and I wish you the very best!

      ~~ Anne

  15. Hello. What a great site you have! Thank you for all your comments and answers. You have helped so many of us while in this tumultuous place called ‘unemployment’.

    My question has not been broached here yet so I’ll ask away. As an unemployed person taking on ‘piecework’ and consulting projects, when I write in my clients information in the ’employer name and mailing address’ section, do they get a notice from the EDD about my being unemployed? or verifying my work, hours, etc. I really don’t want that to get to those I am doing the ‘piecework’ for.

    Secondly, how do you estimate the time you worked when it is paid as piecework and not by the hour?

    Thank you so much for all your help. Much appreciated.


    • Hi BD,

      Thanks for your kind comments. I’m glad the site has been of some help.

      I don’t know the answer to the question about whether the EDD is following up on piecework contacts. I think/hope that it’s for the official records in case they ever need to verify your piecework claim, or whether the employer/client actually exists. I agree that it wouldn’t look all that great to a prospective long-term employer to have the EDD checking up on you.

      When I fill out the piecework section, I fill in the number of hours it took me to do the job I’m reporting. Keeping track of time spent on any project is essential, whether you are reporting to EDD or simply to yourself. This is a great way to find out whether you are being paid minimum wage, as well.

      So if a client paid you $50 total for something, and it took you 4 hours to do it, write down 4 hours.

      Hope that is helpful.

      Thanks again for writing. Very best wishes for the coming year!

      ~~ Anne

  16. Hi! I found your article very interesting. I talked to several representatives about self-employment and freelancing and they say that you are not penalized for being self-employed in California unless either your earnings are excessive or you are making yourself not available for work.

    I am earning very small amounts of self-employment and I have an interview coming up. They told me to use “self-employment” and not the employer. And, they told me not to use the client’s (or the 1099 payor) name at all.

    Even in the benefit determination guide it says you can be self-employed as long as you are able and available for work.

  17. Hi Darlene,

    Thanks for your information!

    It seems there is a lot of conflicting info out there, as many of us are being told different things by EDD reps. My suggestion is to record the name of the rep, as well as the time and date of your conversation so that you have a reference in case you are ever challenged.

    Thanks again for writing, Darlene. Good luck!


  18. I know, it’s really conflicting, that’s why I’m anxious about it. I would write “piece work” if I thought I could use the name of the 1099 payor, but I have been specifically warned not to do that by the payor because I am an “independent contractor” and will tell EDD that. So, that would further dig a hole for me.

    • I hope you will keep in touch, Darlene, and let us know how it goes. I have friends who were told that very thing, and it worked out; others, on the flip side, ran into trouble. I always recommend doing what the EDD says, and documenting it.

      Thanks again for bringing your experience here. We all appreciate it very much!

      Good luck with it all,


  19. I wanted to update you on what happened with the interview. It went very well. I told him that the income was from a hobby in which I started to earn money (which is the truth in my case). That’s all he needed to know and I’ve had no problem ever since.

    However, I have now started up a new claim as my old claim expired. I was told, today, that I would not need a new interview, but that conflicts with several other people I have talked to over there at EDD.

    But, I learned today that they just hired a bunch of new people who aren’t totally in tune with the job and may not read notes or carefully look over the records. The lady I talked to today says that the new claim will be attached the the old and I shouldn’t require a new interview unless there were new issues. So, I’ll let you know what happens there.

    • Darlene, what a gem you are for keeping in touch and allowing us to share your journey!

      Here’s hoping for a smooth transition to your next claim!

      Thank you again for letting us know how things are going.

      All the best!


  20. Hi Anne,

    I thought I’d come back and post a few things I’ve found out over the last few months.

    1. To answer my own earlier question, if you’ve done a freelance project the EDD does NOT contact the person employing your services. They just need the information you put in your form, for your file.

    2. Whenever I’ve gotten through to a rep, they always ask ‘Did the employer pay taxes on your income’. If the answer is NO – you are considered self-employed, which will NOT stop your benefits (at least in CA).

    3. You will have to go through an interview for them to ‘clear you’ for self-employment.

    4. If you are ‘cleared’ for self-employment – you do NOT have to include the employer name on the form. You’d write in ‘piece work’ instead.

    5. If the employer DOES take out taxes from your check, then you DO have to include the employer name and their information.

    I hope that helps clarify things. And again, this is just what I’ve heard from the most recent rep I talked to. The one I talked to before this most recent one didn’t say one word about any of this. Go figure.

    Thanks Anne.


    • Thank you so much, BD!

      It’s great to hear from you again. This is valuable information indeed. It’s certainly what I have found, though you have provided much more detail. I think you will put a lot of minds to rest with this.

      Thanks again for checking back and shedding light on this subject. I hope you will stay in touch and let us know how things go over the next few months!

      All the best,

      ~~ Anne

    • This is really great information. Thank you for taking the time to post it for our benefit.

  21. Great site, btw. One more question. I know when you file a claim, EDD sends a notice of filing to your former employer (the last company you worked for that paid taxes on your wages…a ‘real’ employer). Does anyone know if they also contact your ‘most recent work place’ (to verify why you are no longer working), even if that workplace was not (in a legal sense) your ’employer’ (because you were doing piecework)?

    I really don’t want that company to get nvolved in this process, because I presented myself to them as someone coming in to solve a problem, not create one.

    Thanks in advance for any input.

  22. On P. 17 of California EDD’s Guide to Benefits and Employment Services, it says this:

    If you received pay for piecework, report the total amount paid in the week it was earned. Include the word “piecework” in item 6b along with the employer’s name.

    • I should clarify … the CA EDD Guide booklet says to include the piecework “employer’s name” on 6b, while the fine print of section 6b itself asks for the employer’s name AND their full mailing address, including zip code.

      So even though the work is piecework, EDD still wants full contact information for who you did the piecework for (as well as what you earned that week, even if you were not paid for it that week).

      Also, you enter gross earnings on the claim form. EDD does the calculations as to how much of your earnings, if any, will be deducted from your weekly benefit (based on their formula). The formula is clearly explained in the EDD Guide booklet.

      • This is straight from CA EDD.

        If you do piecework, on line 6B of the claim form, you write “piecework” but you DO NOT name the person/company/address of where you did that work. You instead list your OWN NAME, OWN ADDRESS, because as a self employed, YOU ARE THE EMPLOYER FOR THE WEEK in which you had that income. That is what I was told.

        I learned the hard way not to list the “employer’s” name if it’s piecework. When I did that, it triggered a notice of claim filed to the “employer”, then they contested (as they had every right to, since they were not a W-2 employer) and then I had to spend hours untangling the whole misunderstanding.

        Better not to go there in the first place. Btw, for what it’s worth, EDD was amazingly helpful once they realized what the problem was.

        If this post saves anyone else the headache I went through, it was well worth the effort.

  23. I would also like to say that the EDD benefit pamphlet instructions on this topic are misleading. They DO ask you to list the employer and contact info (along with the word ‘piecework’) on the claim form. But what they don’t tell you is that you are the employer.

  24. This post is genius! Thanks so much. My husband has been unemployed for 5 months and accepted piecework on a writing gig. Now I know that in the Employer section he puts his own name and to list the income when he actually receives the check.

    Here’s the million dollar question I have: The check will be for around $1,600. Does anyone know if this will trigger any warning bells or raise any red flags since the maximum amount you can list is $999.99? Will he lose income for more than a week since is is definitely more than a week’s benefits. I’m still confused as to how use the EDD calculations to determine how this will reduce his benefits.

  25. Hi Anne,

    This blog post and the replies have been so helpful! I was laid off from my previous full-time copywriting job in December and since then have collected unemployment and completed some piece work. The first time I reported piece work to the California EDD, everything went smoothly. I wrote the employer’s name and address in the box asking for that information (even though I’m now seeing the replies to this post saying I should have put my own address down) and reported the income, which was $495. When my next check arrived, 75% of $495 had been deducted from it.

    I recently completed another freelance gig for a different employer, this time proofreading and copy editing (and rewriting), for which I was paid $600. I reported this income and the employer’s name and address as I did last time, but when my unemployment check arrived today, it was attached to a page that says “NOT A CLAIM FORM.” No claim form was included with the check, so now I am, of course, freaking out. Have you or has anyone here had this happen before? Based on a little Google research, it sounds like the EDD sometimes sends a claim form the following day in cases like this, but it would be nice to hear from someone else claiming piece work that this doesn’t mean my benefits are getting cut off or anything.

    Thank you so much for posting so much detailed information and hosting this conversation about piece work. I would have had no idea what to do if I hadn’t found your blog!


    • Hi Heather,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad our little group could help you out! People have been very kind in discussing their own situations and helping to untangle some of the EDD mysteries.

      As far as your “Not a claim form” letter is concerned, could it be possible that you have simply exhausted your first tier? Take a look at this page from the EDD site, which delineates the number of weeks assigned to all of the available tiers.

      If you have exhausted a tier, your final check for that period will come in with a “Not a claim form” notice on it. You should then receive a notice saying that you may be eligible for an extension.

      I hope you will keep in touch and let us know how you are doing!

      Good luck,


      • Hello again!

        I wanted to wait until this whole situation had played out before I posted about my experience. Anyway, here’s what happened:

        After I posted my previous comment, I received a form with a stub for the week in which I had earned $600 explaining that I was not eligible for benefits during that week because of my excessive earnings. However, there was still not claim form attached for the next two-week period. I waited another day or two for a claim form to arrive separately as I knew I had not exhausted my benefits for that tier (I still had about $2,000 left in my fund), but a claim form still did not arrive.

        At that point I submitted a question to the California EDD through their website and within three hours received a response saying that my claim had been cut off because I made so much money and that I’d have to contact EDD to reopen the claim. I then pasted my original question and that response into yet another submission through the EDD website, explaining that the response did not make sense to me because I had reported another piece work project in the past without getting cut off.

        So, after I submitted that second question through the EDD website, within half an hour an EDD rep called me! I believe her name was Linda. She was very nice and said that the person who sent me the other response shouldn’t have replied that way. She said that because I had contacted EDD through the website, I was reestablishing my claim. Then she started asking me some questions about the piece work I’ve been doing, and she wanted to know if I had been doing any similar work before I lost my full-time job in December. I had, so I told her that.

        This EDD representative also told me that from now on I should not list the name and address of the employer who gave me the work in the box on the claim form asking for that information. She said that because I receive 1099 forms for my work I am considered self-employed and that I should always write “self-employed” in that box along with my own address.

        Additionally (wow, this is long!) this representative told me that because I had never had a phone interview about my self-employment I would need to have one set up and complete the interview before my next check could be released. She told me she would immediately submit a request for me to get that phone interview and ensure that the claim form I was waiting on would be mailed to me.

        Within a couple of days, the claim form I needed arrived and I filled it out. I had done a little more work for the same company that had paid me the $600, so I listed myself as self-employed and put down my own address in the employer name and address box. In the “reason no longer working” box, I wrote in “piece work” as usual. I mailed off my claim form even though I hadn’t had my interview about self-employment yet.

        My phone interview was scheduled for the Thursday when I would normally receive my unemployment check. When the interviewer called me that Thursday, he asked if I was self-employed and received a 1099 for my work at the end of the year. I said, “Yes.” Then he asked if I was still looking for full-time work. I said, “Yes, I can’t live on what I’m making from these little jobs.” And then finally he just said, “Okay, report your earnings, bye!”

        My next unemployment check was finally released after that interview, and it ended up coming to me three business days late. The amount was calculated correctly based on what I had reported; 75% of my “piece work” income for those two weeks was taken out.

        And that is the end of my story…for now. Hopefully this will help someone out!


      • Heather, thank you so much for your detailed response! I hope it gives a little encouragement to those in your situation. A few days seem like a few months when this sort of thing happens, doesn’t it!

        It’s very kind of you to keep in touch and share your experiences. Please check back with us, won’t you, and let us know how things go for you in the long run, too.

        Very best wishes,


  26. What a great site–even though some of the things I read here scare the bejeesus out of me! For example, a few months ago I took on the first freelance writing job I had been offered since I was laid off last November. I was paid $500 and decided to wait until I had the check in hand, even though EDD wanted me to report it earlier. As soon as I sent the form in, I was told that my benefits were on hold until my hearing date, which was set exactly the same date and time as my daughter’s Jr. High graduation for which she was to receive numerous academic awards. If I changed the date, I would have to wait 6 to 8 weeks for a new hearing, during which time I would not be paid. So I missed this marvelous moment in my daughter’s life. for a thirty second interview in which I was asked if I was working for the employer I had listed. I said no, it was a freelance gig. Did I expect more work from them? I said no. Of course, THE NEXT DAY, I get an offer for another writing job, this one for $1250, more than what I make in two weeks of EDD. From what I gather, I will be cut off again, a hearing will be scheduled, and I may very well be cut off entirely. If I open a new case, they might base my income on the EDD payments I have received the past few months instead of what I was making before I was laid off. Does this sound about right?

    I just called EDD and spoke with a representative. She said if my job takes two weeks, then I will have to call and reopen. But if my job only takes a week, and I report the $1250 that week as “Freelance” (I said that the handbook says to call it Piece Work and she said “Ok, put that.”) then I would receive no payment that week, but my full $450 the next week. I asked for her name but I am sad to say I could not understand her (twice). She was very nice, but this seems too good to be true, since my payment of $500 a few weeks ago netted me a little more than what I would have normally received for the second week.

    I will do what she said and see what happens, and keep you posted.


    • Hi Tony,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with our little gang at Here’s Why. It’ sad to hear that you missed your daughter’s graduation. If there is a good side to this, it could be that you will be back on your full UI payment after you reopen your claim. This is based on a fairly recent law that was enacted once the “temping penalty” was addressed by Congress. It is unfortunately not available to those laid off before the first half (I believe) of 2009, but those who were let go in the second half and have had temp jobs report that they are back on the allotment they had before the temp job started.

      I don’t know where to find the information about the cutoff date, I am sorry to say. I do know that a colleague laid off around February or March of ’09 found her benefits reduced to nearly nothing after taking a temp job — in every attempt to be a responsible adult. Others laid off after that were reinstated at the full amount.

      Tony, we will all be happy to hear how things go for you. Thanks again for telling us your experience.

      Very best wishes,


    • I hope I can shed a little light on this. In general, you should only get one interview for self employment income and they shouldn’t hold your check or interview you again unless another issue comes up. They’re mostly trying to check up on people who may be working full-time (even though they’re earning less than their EDD check) and not available or looking for work.

      Also, you will not receive any UI check the week that you report earnings over 125% of you WBA. But, you can always re-open your claim as soon as you’re not working or not earning excessive earnings.

      Also, freelance or self-employment income does not count towards any new claim. So, you’re clear in regards to them automatically opening up a new claim for you based on your self-employment earnings.

      • Darlene, you are a gem!

        It’s always good to hear from you, and I thank you for your information.

        Tony, please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing!

        Thanks again, Darlene!

        ~~ Anne

  27. I have been on unemployment since being laid off from my job in December. I do some voiceover work for this company I am on the roster for and get $10 per script. Since December I have earned $10-$20 per month but have not reported it to E.D.D. as I thought I only needed to report over $25. It was truly an innocent mistake as I’m a very honest person and want to do things by the book. I did research on this and am freaking out because I don’t know whether I need to report it now moving forward that I’m an independent contractor. I don’t want to get penalized or have my benefits stopped for an investigation for such a meagre amount but I want to be honest. I can’t call to ask them because they have to take all my details and could take action.

    I have spoken to the company and they said that because I’ve only earned $174 this year, which is under $600, they won’t be issuing me a 1099. My concern is that if I report to the E.D.D. my earnings I’d have to put $174 as if I earned it in one week because I can’t explain to them that I actually earned it since December in case they prosecute me. Do they follow up with every ’employer’ if you put down you earned money? The company said that they would have to tell them the exact months I did do a script for them if asked so I’d really be in trouble I’m really scared and don’t know what to do – please can someone advise??!!

  28. I’ve read through all of this and I’m left slightly confused.
    I have a few questions:

    1) I was just offered a freelance gig. It pays $3000 per project. There’s two projects they need me on so $6000 total.

    HOWEVER, bc it’s through a bigger corporation they are making me do a W-4. I can bill it to them however I want as long as it’s via their provided timesheets listed in days. As in I can bill Monday, 9-5 is $300, Tuesday 9-5 is $600, etc. until I hit my max of $6000 for the projects totaled. I can even bill it all in one week if I want or spread it out over a few weeks.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way for me to bill this AND the best way for me to claim it on my Extended Claim Form so that I don’t get screwed over and lose my status and max benefits after this project is over and I’m paid.

  29. Hi Anne..Seems like Im a bit late to this conversation. I have been trying to call EDD for a month (I’m not lying) and it always says that they are too busy to answer. I was so stressed because I had so many questions regarding the “earned wages”. I take pictures of people that I know and sometimes they donate money or “tip” me. How would I be able to claim that? What are my steps? I cannot loose my unemployment benefits. I know that one person will donate $50 next week or so. I know I will not make more than that a month.
    How do i do this right? Please help me.

    • Hi Oleska,

      Thanks for writing. To the best of my knowledge, tips and donations are considered income, regardless of how they were earned, and it all has to be declared. I handled everything as “piecework” on my form, with no problems arising, but check the comments here to see how other people have managed it.

      Good luck!

      ~~ Anne

  30. Has anyone tried this in 2012? I’m an actor, and most of my wages are on w2 ~ however, I just got a job with an out of state company that is going to hire me to both model and consult for them from time to time…but paid 1099.

    How should I report this? Im trying to avoid the self employment claim being held debacle.

  31. Very helpful site and glad the conversation is still going in 2012, reading through all these specific examples is helpful, I’m sure I’ll have a similar question soon too 🙂

  32. So glad to know you are still here, live! I’ve read through all the posts here (my head is dizzy) and I guess all of the ‘piecework’ mentioned was done while you were ‘immediately able and willing to report to a job if it became available’. I need to take care of my mom after her operation, for which she will pay me, so I won’t be available for other work. I guess this means I can’t use ‘piecework’, right.

    Of course I would be happy to ask EDD but you know how that goes. I’ve been calling over and over (including all the tricks on the internet) and sent 3 msgs over the course of the last month. Never heard a peep out of them.

    Thanks so much to Anne and everyone.

    • Welcome back, M! I’m so glad that this forum has been helpful. This has been a very supportive and generous little group, hasn’t it?

      I hope your mom feels better soon. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.

      Best wishes,


  33. This is the best website about UI,
    This is my history, I am from California my I got fired on June 2012, and my UI was approved (total of $6600) for $254/weekly without phone interview in the same month.
    On July 2012 I found I job in Clinical Research Trial to trial a new medication. I was scary to accepted but I finally did it. I signed a W-9 form, and the payment are going to payment $1,900 for 5 days in the clininc and 5 more outpitient follow up visit. I am still in the study but I do not if should continue or not (because the income is prorated by the days and visit completed).
    My question are: how will I be affected? are they going to stop my UI benefits.
    If I can re open my case will I be able to get the same amount of benefits?

  34. Hi Anne, maybe you can help with my situation. I lost my job in January 2012. Went on unemployment and had no problems. I found a part-time (30 hours a week or so) job as a 1099 contractor that was going to be a trial of 90 days with hiring at the end if it all worked out. While at that job I reported my income and got much smaller checks from EDD. Before the end of the 90 days it wasn’t working out so me and the employer decided to end the relationship. I had an interview with EDD during my claim and I told the lady about my situation and she assured me that as a 1099 contractor I should be able to resume regular claim collection if the job didn’t work (she was actually really nice.) Now I’m trying to re-open my claim, but I worry about what I’ve been reading here. I have many friends who work in Hollywood and their jobs are usually for a given period and then end, so they are constantly going off and on unemployment. They told me that as a 1099 it’s no problem. But I’m reading elsewhere that it can be. Any advice you have would be appreciated. –John

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for checking in. I’m afraid that I am not in the position to advise, not being in any way connected with EDD.

      There’s a specific set of regulations in connection with acting and other performing arts, Total and Partial Unemployment TPU 460.6. Was your temp employment in the entertainment industry?

      I think the best thing to do is document everything from your work hours to the name of the person you’re speaking to at the EDD, time of phone call and what they’ve told you. When I was on UI that was very helpful, and made it easier to explain why I’d filled out a form the way I had, etc.

      How are things going for everyone here? I’m afraid I have slipped out of the loop, my EDD claim time being a thing of the past, but the gang still seems active and happy to share their experiences.

      All the best to you, John!

      ~~ Anne

      • Looks like it is all cleared up. Not sure if this is because EDD told me on the phone that 1099 would not effect my elligibilty (and there was a screw up on their part re: my address change that they admitted), but here’s what they said (for anyone else out there who may encounter a similar scenario):

        Any 1099 work you may do simply state 1099 work on the claim form, and not the name and address of the 1099 employer. If it is a 1099 employer they may not like getting paperwork from EDD about you if you are not an actual employee. If you are filing an application for unemployment simply provide your last actual employer and last date worked for them. Have a good day

  35. Hi John,

    That’s good news! What a nice, simple solution to the 1099 question, too; I’m glad that the EDD has responded with a clear policy for temp work.

    Thanks so much for letting us know, John! Good luck in all your endeavors.

    ~~ Anne

  36. I just want to express how helpful this post and these comments have been, even in the year 2013! I assisted my mother through the unemployment process in Florida and wow, things are SO MUCH simpler there compared to California. Going through all this I’ve been so confused and wondering why California makes it this difficult.

    I’m an editor who recently lost her job, but I’m still looking for full-time work. My former employer wanted to help me out by at least giving me some frequent freelance work, but it’s not enough to live by, it’s just something to help me in the mean time ($150 a week). Because I wanted to be as honest as possible, I put down what I earned from this freelance work on the claim forms.

    Then I received another claim form a week after my first one saying my claim was reopened because of that freelance work. Huh? After sending an e-mail to the EDD website, I was told an interview has been set up to “fix this self-employment issue.” I was initially confused because it sounded like I was being punished for freelance work, when I read in the booklet freelance and even part-time work is fine as long as 75% of what you make is less than your claim (and it’ll be deducted regardless).

    But after reading all these replies I think I’ll be okay, because like many others here: this is just temporary, it’s not enough to live by so I’m NOT a full-time freelancer, taxes are not taken out of my pay, and I am still looking for work. I just know now to write down “piece work” and put myself down as an employer.

    I hope I get that phone interview soon. I’ve had weeks of unemployment hassle and not received ONE check yet.

  37. EDD (in Calif.) has been such a hassle. I lost my job of 20 years due to lack of work. I still had a few clients who need occasional assistance. I found a small firm that would let me work through them under 1099 that way they would provide errors and omission insurance for my work. I do not have plans to have my own firm or to be self-employed hence I don’t want to deal with my own errors and omission insurance. However, while I am looking for a permanent job I have done some part-time, piece meal work. Now EDD has decided that I do not qualify for UI because they think I am self-employed.

    What happened is: On the Continuing Claim Form line 6 I put down the small firm’s name since they paid me with a check. However, we later realized that I shouldn’t have put down their name and so I told EDD about the mistake and that I was a contractor for the small firm and that I was still looking for work. EDD scheduled a eligibility phone interview which I missed (my cell phone accidentally was put on silent) BUT I called EDD back within minutes of the missed call requesting a new appointment time AND I followed up with 2 emails to them. The EDD guide books says you can request a new apt, and I did. In addition, the interviewer’s message said the same thing, and to call back that same day which I did. However, EDD for some reason sent me a letter saying I was no longer eligible for UI and now I am going through the appeal process.

    I shouldn’t have to go through the appeal process because I followed their protocol to request a new eligibility interview. In addition, as I understand from the above emails and other sites on the internet that you can work as long as you continue to look for work and are available to work which I am. The piecemeal work can be done anytime of the day and week from my home. I can and will stop this piecemeal work when I have a permanent job.

    I hope that EDD agrees that I am doing the best I can while looking for work and working a little bit as I am looking. What has been other’s experiences with EDD Appeal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge?

  38. Hi Anne,

    Thanks so much for the article. I freelance in television but have been 10 months straight working for the same company. Everything was completely steady and then summer hit and its been two months off so far with no work in sight. Two questions; if I have paid taxes on the job (it was a w9 but no form about how much to take out and I’ve been getting my full amount) would I still be able to collect Edd? My understanding is that the employer pays half and the employees pays half so I don’t know if I qualify. Also is there a deadline to file, if I’ve been out of work for two months is that going to be a problem?

    • Sorry, meant to say there have been no taxes taken out.

      • Also, sorry for the seperate posts, but is frowned upon to draw unemployment from a company I will have to work for in the future? I don’t want to burn my bridges but it has been two months. Thanks!

  39. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for reading this post.

    You know, it’s about four years old and the regs have very likely changed since I first wrote it.

    I’m not sure what to tell you about this situation, since I was never employed by EDD or affiliated with it in any way. There were parts of the law that addressed actors’ concerns, but I honestly doubt that we freelance writers would be covered by it.

    In fact, these days I’m not even sure where to recommend that you check, as I left California a couple of years back! Have you tried the Writers Guild, since you are in TV?

    Anybody here in the CA entertainment writing industry able to assist Brian with this question?

    Thanks again for your question, Brian, and I wish you the best!


    (Gone from California, now writing in New Mexico)

    • Hey Anne,

      Thanks so much for the quick response! Even though you are in New Mexico now, maybe you can answer a couple of simple questions.

      I filled out a W9, haven’t received a 1099, but it’s not the end of the year. I’m a little confused on how I’m supposed to be classified. The company I work for calls it freelancing and gave me a w9, but with no form to take out taxes. What do you think I would be considered? Still self employed or a freelancer?

      Also, when everyone is saying write piece work and self employed instead of the employer they are talking about filing out the claim form, I want to know what to put when I’m opening a new claim. Thanks again, seriously no one else is answering and the holidays are coming up so I worry about quick responses.

  40. Hi Brian,

    It sounds to me as if you are a freelancer, AKA self-employed, AKA a 1099-er.

    But please understand that I am not a tax consultant, nor am I remotely qualified to give legal or tax advice (or any other kind, as some will tell you!) – so I don’t give any.

    You might try to get in touch with EDD, to see if you are eligible for UI. I think you should also see about getting a tax preparer. Those are the people who could help you with these questions.

    Is this your first year freelancing? You have the opportunity to file and pay quarterly, which a lot of people do. It saves being hit with a huge tax bill every April. Again, this is not advice – just what some of us do.

    I honestly don’t know how California classifies workers in the entertainment industry these days. That’s something to ask a professional.

    Good luck! And congrats on landing such regular work – hope you are not on hiatus for long.



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