Loree Levy, the Deputy Director for Public Affairs at EDD, had much-needed good news for Californians who are coming up on the one-year expiration of their unemployment benefits. As the EDD updates its processes in accordance to President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, those with expiring benefits can continue to receive federal unemployment benefits even as the EDD implements the new programming.
Those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits from the federal government will be able to certify for benefits starting Sunday, March 28 -- weeks earlier than the initial date of April 10. Levy said that claimants should monitor their UI Online accounts or mail for information on certifying for the extended benefits. PUA recipients will not need to reapply for benefits.
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Claimants receiving regular unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extension will be able to certify for new weeks starting April 30. Both PUA and PEUC benefits have been extended for eligible claimants for 29 weeks through September 4, 2021.
Those on the federally funded FED-ED program, which is available to those who have used all their PEUC benefits, have had their benefits extended to up to 20 weeks of benefits, through September 11.
Regular unemployment insurance claimants whose benefits ran out within their "benefit year" will be required to file a new claim. If the claimant has enough wages to qualify for regular unemployment, the EDD will process the claim. Otherwise, the EDD may automatically enroll the claimant in the PEUC program, if eligible. The EDD will inform claimants of their need to reapply, and when to certify for their next payments, via UI Online, mail, or text message (if the recipient has opted in).
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The $300 per week federal increase in unemployment benefits will continue through September 4.
In order to help claimants figure out what kind of claim they currently have and what they might qualify for, the EDD released a chart of federal benefits availability.
The EDD also unveiled their new Unemployment Benefits Data dashboard, to directly report the number of claims filed, total benefits paid, the backlog of claims still to be processed, and statistics on their call center.
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As of March 26, 21.3 million claims have been filed, and $132 billion has been paid out since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. The EDD also says that 89.1% of all claims were paid within one week of the first certification. The backlog of claims number has been revised down to 152,044, based on the State Auditor's recommendation of only considering claims pending EDD action be counted, instead of also including claims where the claimant needs to take action.
The new dashboard also reveals how EDD's call center has performed during the tidal wave of new claims in the last year. For the week ending March 20, 2021 alone, the EDD call center received 2,435,605 calls from 310,943 unique callers. 257,643 of those calls were actually answered by EDD staff.