How do I apply for EI benefits?

3. Wait for a decision

It usually takes over 4 weeks for Service Canada to review an application and start paying benefits. You should expect to be without any income for up to a month. It can take even longer if you do not send in all the information that Service Canada needs to make a decision.

If you qualify for benefits, you can get your payments either by mail or by direct deposit to your bank account. Direct deposit allows you to get your payments as quickly as possible.

Service Canada will also pay back any benefits for the time that your application was being processed.

If you do not qualify for EI, Service Canada will send you that decision in writing. If you disagree with the decision, you have 30 days from the date you first find out about the decision to ask Service Canada to reconsider.

Waiting period

You are not covered by EI for the first week after you make your claim. This is called the “waiting period”. Also, any money that you earn from an employer during this week will be deducted from future benefits.

Sometimes the one-week waiting period can be waived or postponed. For example:

  • If you get sick leave pay from your employer following your last day worked, the waiting period can be waived.
  • If family members are sharing compassionate care benefits, only the first family member to claim these benefits has to serve the waiting period. If 2 or more family members are claiming compassionate care benefits at the same time, the family members must decide which person will serve the waiting period.
  • If you receive group insurance payments, you can serve the one-week waiting period during the last week that you are receiving your insurance payments.
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