By Hannah-Beth Jackson
Senator, 19th District Santa Barbara
The financial toll of the coronavirus on California workers and businesses is undeniable. If you become unemployed as a result of the crisis, help is available. There have been recent developments within California’s unemployment insurance program that may be useful to you.
$600 More per Week in Unemployment Benefits!
Starting this week, Californians receiving unemployment benefits will get an additional $600 per week, on top of their current weekly benefit amount, as a result of the federal CARES Act. If you are already receiving unemployment benefits, you do not need to do anything to receive this extra funding. It will be automatically added to your claim. You can visit the Employment Development Department’s website to learn more.
Unemployment Assistance for Self-Employed, Independent Contractors
Unemployed Californians who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have a limited work history, and others who are not usually eligible for regular State Unemployment Insurance benefits will be able to apply for benefits through the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
The program will provide up to 39 weeks of benefits starting with weeks of unemployment beginning February 2, 2020, through the week ending December 31, 2020, depending on when you became directly impacted by the pandemic.
Because it is brand new, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is not yet operational but EDD expects it to be up by April 28. Once it is operational, the payment will be retroactive to the first full week of February as long as you can show that your inability to work was COVID-19 related. In the meantime, you can review the eligibility requirements and learn more about the program on this website.
Employment Development Department Update
California is processing an extraordinary number of unemployment claims. In the last four weeks, our state has processed about 2.3 million unemployment insurance claims, which is more than the total number of claims filed in 2019. Given this deluge of claims, the fastest way to file for your UI benefits is online. The Employment Development Department has redirected hundreds of staff to expand capacity and extended their call center hours. Starting Monday, the call center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.
I hope this information is helpful to you during this challenging time. If you have additional questions, visit the Unemployment Insurance Benefits section of EDD’s Coronavirus 2019 FAQs page or call my office at (805) 965-0862 in Santa Barbara or (805) 988-1940 in Ventura.
For more information about the financial relief available to Californians affected by the crisis, visit covid19.ca.gov or my website.
Senator, 19th District