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How to Apply for EI – Everything You Need to Know

How to Apply for EI – Everything You Need to Know

If you are employed by someone other than yourself, then chances are you pay employment insurance premiums on every paycheque. The employment insurance (EI) program provides temporary income support from the government of Canada should you stop working for a number of reasons. If you find yourself unemployed, here is everything you need to know on how to apply for EI.

When to Apply for EI?

The best time to apply for employment insurance is as soon as you stop working for any reason that is no fault of your own. If you wait longer than 4 weeks to apply, you may lose benefits.

Do not wait until you have all supporting documents or your record of employment (ROE) before applying. You can begin the application process as soon as you are without work. And then, once you have all of the required documentation, you can forward it to Service Canada.

Who is Eligible for EI?

To be eligible for employment insurance in Canada, you need to have accumulated insurable earnings.

When you pay EI premiums from your income, you accumulate insurable earnings. They are then used to calculate the employment insurance type, length, and amount of benefit that you may be entitled to.

Regular employment insurance benefits may be available to you if you lost your job through no fault of your own and are available to work but cannot find a job. If you quit your job or were dismissed with cause, then you may not be eligible for EI benefits.

The eligibility for each type of employment insurance benefit may be different. But the application process is the same regardless of what you are applying for.

Type of employment insurance:

  • Regular benefits
  • Sickness benefits
  • Maternity benefits
  • Parental benefits
  • Compassionate care benefits
  • Family caregiver benefits

Before You Apply for EI

Before you apply for employment insurance in Canada, you will want to gather the following information.

  • Social insurance number (SIN) – if your SIN begins with a 9, you will also need proof of immigration status and a work permit.
  • Mother’s maiden name (her last name at birth)
  • Mailing and residential address including postal code (if different)
  • Complete banking information to set up direct deposit
    • Name of bank
    • Branch number
    • Bank account number
  • Names, addresses, dates of employment, and reasons for no longer working, for all employers in the last 52 weeks.
  • A detailed version of facts as to why you are no longer employed
  • Dates (Sunday to Saturday) and earnings for highest-paid weeks of insurance earnings in the past 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim

If you reactivate your claim, you will need a bit of extra information for your application.

  • Pre-tax salary amount of last week worked (including taxable tips and commissions)
  • Any other money you have or will receive (vacation pay, severance pay, pension, pay in lieu, etc.)

There is an added requirement of a medical certificate from a medical practitioner when applying for EI sickness benefits.

And finally, you may need to request that your previous employer submit your record of employment (ROE) to Service Canada. Most of the time, your previous employer will submit your ROE electronically when requested.

Where to Apply for EI?

You can apply for EI online through the Service Canada website. If you do not have access to the internet, you can apply at Service Canada offices or through the internet connection at your local library.

How Long Does it Take to Apply?

It will take you about an hour to complete your EI application online. But you do not need to complete the whole application in one sitting.

You will have 72 hours (3 days) to complete the online application once you have started it. And you can come back to the application anytime in those 72 hours.

After that time, if you have not completed your application, you will need to restart the process.

Covid 19 Changes to EI

Due to the current global Covid 19 pandemic, the following changes are in place as of September 27, 2020, for a minimum of one year.

  • The minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% applies to everywhere in Canada. If your particular region has a higher unemployment rate, then the higher rate will apply.
  • The minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% entitles eligible recipients to a minimum of 26 weeks of regular benefits.
  • You only need 120 hours of insurable earnings to qualify for employment insurance benefits. A one-time credit of 300 hours or 480 hours will be applied to regular and sickness benefits, respectively.
  • The minimum employment insurance benefit will be $500 a week.
  • If you received the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), then the 52 weeks to accumulate insured hours are extended.

After You’ve Applied

Once you have completed the online application for EI, you will receive a statement of benefits and a 4-digit access code in the mail.

Anytime you want to access your employment insurance claim information, you will need your access code. The statement of benefits is not confirmation that a decision has been made on your claim.

If your claim is successful, you can expect your payments to start within 28 days of the receipt of your application and supporting documents. There is a one-week waiting period for which you will not receive any benefits.

For faster payments, be sure to sign up for direct deposit.

Biweekly reporting of eligibility and income is a requirement of the EI benefits program. You will need your SIN and 4-digit access code to submit these reports.

The easiest way to submit your biweekly reports is online through the EI internet reporting service. But you can also call 1-800-531-7555 to submit your reports by telephone. And as a last resort, you can submit paper copies of your reports by mail.

You are not required to submit biweekly reports if you are receiving employment insurance benefits for maternity or parental leave, family caregiver, or compassionate care benefits.

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