COVID-19 California Benefits Tool

Vulnerable Populations
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Use this tool you discover which government benefits you're eligible for if you have been impacted by COVID-19.

Andrea Guendelman, Igor Shvartser, Alex Marcus, Colin Mcdonald, Jamie Albers


Nearly one-third, or an estimated 46 million Americans (per Reuters), could lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Last week 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment claims. This week another 3 million are expected to file. This number is expected to spike as independent contractors and gig workers are now eligible for benefits with the CARE Act.

People whose jobs or health have been impacted by the outbreak will now have access to meaningful financial assistance, including almost 100% income replacement for low-income households making below $50,000. It's critical that families have access to resources that can help them keep their food and housing.

However, the information is disparate and scattered, making it difficult to know if you qualify, your estimated weekly benefits, or even how to apply. Now, more than ever, people need an easy way to figure out their options and apply.

What it does

This Benefits Tool makes it easy for to learn which benefits (pandemic emergency assistance, unemployment insurance, paid family leave, and disability insurance) you qualify for, how much they could get paid each week, and how to quickly sign-up.

How I built it

We conducted extensive research to understand the benefits available to individuals and families, mapped out the user flows, and then built the quiz using javascript and react for the UI.

Challenges I ran into

The main challenge we ran into is that the qualifications, and specifically the minimum income requirements for individuals to qualify for unemployment insurance, varies state by state. We felt that it was important to include a benefits calculator to help people better estimate what their benefits could be, so we decided to start with one state, California.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We're extremely proud that we were able to put together a working prototype in just a few days that we believe will be immediately helpful to millions of Californians who are impacted by COVID-19.

What I learned

We learned a LOT about the California benefits system and COVID-19 relief! :)

What's next for COVID-19 Benefits Tool

We are still working on this full-time post Hack-a-thon! Check out our progress at

Updates since submission: we have added generic options to the benefits finder so people outside California can also use the tool; we have added flows pertaining to healthcare so people who have been laid off can also better understand how to stay covered; we have created a crowdsourced list of COVID-19 relief options so people can find support outside of what the government is providing.

Still to come: We're also going to translate the quiz into Spanish to make it more broadly accessible; we will distribute the tool via Gig Economy Cooperatives, and across the tech community where lay-offs are happening in droves as well; and we are starting with outreach through webinars and newsletters, including: BeVisible, a career community for black and brown tech workers, Hue Tech Community, and Workmarket, the largest inetwork of independent contractors.

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A project from #BuildforCOVID19

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