Millions of Californians are due to get $300 a week added to their weekly unemployment payments — but some will get the extra benefit sooner than others.
There’s good news for almost everyone out of work. The extra payments, part of COVID economic relief legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump last month, will continue for most people through the week ending March 13.
Even when those benefits end, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, created last year to help people who usually cannot qualify for jobless aid, will keep going through early April for those who are still receiving payment as of the week ending March 13 and who continue to be eligible for PUA benefits.
Some new rules and benefits won’t kick in right away. The U.S. Labor Department is still issuing guidelines, and California’s Employment Development Department needs to make programming adjustments so it can implement the new benefits.
With the help of EDD, the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration and the National Employment Law Project, here’s a guide to what to expect:
Q. I’ve been getting unemployment for months. When will I see the additional $300?
A. It depends. If you’re getting regular unemployment insurance — the traditional benefit for people who worked for employers that paid into the system — or the extra weeks added to those benefits under the FED-ED extension program, you may already see the money added to your account. You have to have submitted your bi-weekly certification for the week that ended Saturday. About 1.3 million people in California fall into that category.
Q. And if that’s not me?
People getting PUA or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation will now begin to get payments. About 1.4 million people are in this category.
The EDD says it will let claimants know via email, text, or mailed notices when they can certify for benefit payments under these programs.
A second phase for the expansion of PUA and PEUC will include those who exhausted their claims for these benefits prior to the end of the federal CARES Act but now could become eligible for the new additional 11 weeks of benefits starting with the week of December 27.
The agency said claimants should look for messages from EDD and monitor the Federal Provisions for Unemployment webpage for details on these benefits and updates on when that programming will be complete along with other developments.
Q. Do I need to contact EDD or fill out any new forms?
A. Not if you now get the PUA or PEUC benefits. “EDD will automatically recalculate PUA and PEUC claims,” the agency says on its website, and will notify you through your online account, mail or text message when you can certify for more benefits.
Q. If the payment is delayed, will I still get everything I qualify for?
A. Absolutely. The new law provides for up to 11 additional weeks of PUA, and people can qualify now for up to 57 weeks of benefits. Money will be paid retroactively if necessary. For eligible claimants, the first week of unemployment these additional benefits are payable is the week beginning December 27.
Q. Are the rules for qualifying for PUA the same?
A. Anyone working as a small business owner, independent contractor, self-employed worker and so on, who does not qualify for regular unemployment benefits and is unemployed due one of the specific federal COVID-19 reasons potentially qualifies.
There is a new federal requirement that PUA claimants and applicants applying on or after January 31 will need to submit proof of former employment or self-employment. States are awaiting further guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on how to implement this provision.
Q. My PUA claim eligibility ran out a while ago. Can I now get the additional 11 weeks authorized in the new law?
A. Yes, you can qualify again as of the week beginning December 27. You do not need to contact the EDD at this time. The department will automatically recalculate PUA claims, and will notify you through your online account, mail or text message when you can certify for more benefits.
Q. I’ve never received PUA. How do I apply?
A. The best way for new PUA applicants to apply is online through the EDD website (www.edd.ca.gov/Benefit_Programs_Online.htm). Applicants applying on or after January 31 will need to submit proof of employment or self-employment within 21 days after the EDD has requested the proof. Further information will be made available as more federal guidance is received.
Q. I received regular benefits, not PUA. They ran out after 26 weeks, and I then got 13 more weeks under the PEUC program. Am I eligible for more benefits?
A. Yes. The new law provides for another 11 weeks, beginning the week of December 27. EDD will automatically recalculate PEUC claims, and will notify you through your online account, mail or text message when you can certify for more benefits.
Q. How do I know which, if anym of these programs I qualify for?
A. Start by looking at the EDD’s chart: https://edd.ca.gov/unemployment/pdf/benefit-flowchart.pdf If that doesn’t help, call or email the agency for help at 1-800-300-5616 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., or hit the “help” button on the lower left of the EDD’s COVID page: https://edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/contact-us.htm
If none of that works, contact your state senator or Assembly member. You can find them on this site: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/