How do I apply for EI benefits?

Employment Insurance (EI) rules have changed because of COVID-19. As of August 9, 2020, you require only 120 hours of insurable work to qualify for Special Benefits. And as of September 27, 2020, you require only 120 hours of insurable work to qualify for Regular Benefits the first time you apply.

There is also a new minimum EI payment of $500 per week starting on September 27, 2020. This applies to both Regular Benefits and Special Benefits.

To apply for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits you must fill out an application online. The online application will give you instructions for sending your documents to Service Canada. If you do not have internet access at home, you can apply at a Service Canada Office using one of their internet kiosks or at a public internet access site like a library.

Before you go to the Service Canada Office in your area, you should call to find out if you need to make an appointment.

If you do not speak English or French, bring someone who can translate for you.

No matter what type of EI benefits you are applying for, you should apply as soon as possible. It is best to apply well before the deadline.

Usually, you have to wait for one week after you lose your job before applying for EI. But during COVID-19, you don't have to do this. You can collect EI starting the day after you lose your job. This rule is temporary, and affects people applying for EI between January 31, 2021, and September 25, 2021.

Be sure to apply as soon as you don't have work. If you apply more than 4 weeks after you have an , it may be harder to get approved for EI. If you are approved, you might get less money. This is because there will be a large period of time where you have no hours worked and no money earned.

If you can show there was a good reason why you could not apply within 4 weeks, Service Canada staff might accept your application as though it was filed right away. This is called an “antedate”. To have good cause for the delay, you must show that you did what a reasonable person would have done to figure out the rules and apply on time.

Earnings exemptions

You are allowed to keep some of the money you earn if you work while you are collecting regular benefits, parental benefits, maternity benefits, sickness benefits, compassionate care benefits, or the family caregiver benefit for children. This is called an “earning exemption“.

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