This article was last updated on March 19
California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) manages the Unemployment Insurance (UI) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) programs for the State of California. This includes all the systems, programs and processing of unemployment claims funded at a state and federal level. Many of the federally funded enhanced unemployment benefit programs have been extended several times after enactment last year and the EDD has had a tough time paying out benefits under this programs in a timely manner. This is a known issue and I have provided some FAQs and tips to help get your claims faster in each of the relevant extensions/unemployment stimulus program. Jump directly to them via the links below
- 25-week Extension under Biden ARP Stimulus Bill (Mar 15th, 2021 to Sep 6th, 2021)
- 11-week Extension under CAA COVID Relief Bill (Dec 27nd, 2020 to Mar 14th, 2021)
- $300 Lost Wages Assistance program (August 1st, 2020 to Sep 5th, 2020)
- Original Programs under CARES act (Feb 2nd, 2020 to Dec 26th, 2020)
- Filing a Claim, Benefit Year End and FAQs
Please also see the hundreds of comments at the end of the article where people have shared their stories, tips and struggles getting paid under one or more of these programs.
25-week Unemployment Program Extensions Under Biden ARP Stimulus Package
Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enhanced unemployment benefits will be extended until September 6th. This includes the following extensions:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – The PUA program, designed for freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors or those that generally don’t qualify for regular state unemployment, has been extended by another 29 weeks. This brings the total number of weeks in the program to 79. However note that the actual extension only covers 25 calendar weeks (a known oversight). The minimum PUA payment is still 50% of a states average weekly benefit amount and limited to the state’s maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA).
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) or Pandemic Additional Compensation (PAC) as known in California – The new stimulus bill funds another 25 weeks of weekly supplementary/extra unemployment at the current $300 level. Payments for the $300 weekly payment will continue until early September for a total of 25 weeks and eligible claimants – those getting at least $1 from state and federal unemployment programs – can get a maximum of $7,500 if they qualify for all weeks covered in this new extension. The other $100 supplementary payment for Mixed Earners (MEUC) was also extended by 25 weeks.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – The PEUC program, which extends coverage for those who have exhausted regular and extended state unemployment, has also been extended for another 29 weeks, bringing the total amount of PEUC coverage to 53 weeks. Again the actual extension only covers 25 calendar weeks.
There also provisions in the Biden Stimulus package for Unemployment tax breaks on the first $10,200 of benefits in 2020.
EDD Rollout Update on 25-week Extensions in California – Latest News and Status on PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC
The Federal Department of Labor (DOL) has now issued formal guidelines for states to implement the latest unemployment extensions. They expect states may take until the middle of April to roll-out the extended weeks and as a result there will be a lapse in benefits for several claimant groups while the CA EDD update their program/systems to enable the changes funded under the ARP Program. The CA EDD has provided updates on the rollout of the extension which includes:
- Anyone currently collecting unemployment (active claimants or those on regular UI and FED-ED) in any amount will receive the $300 FPUC supplemental benefit without interruption.
- New PUA Claimants can file for the minimum of $167 payment per week – plus the extra $300 supplementary weekly payment. New claimants will also be able to provide income documentation to potentially increase this payment up to $450 per week, starting April 10, 2021.
- Those with existing or exhausted PUA claims will be able to certify for benefits by April 10, 2021. Those who exhausted PEUC benefits can expect EDD to begin automatically processing PEUC extensions, with the additional weeks of benefits available for certification by April 30, 2021.
- EDD will notify claimants who exhausted those benefits when their payments are ready to resume.
- A summary of EDD Federal Enhanced benefits are shown in the chart below.
I will continue to post additional updates and final implementation dates, including known claim issues, in the coming weeks. You can follow us for updates via the options below.
The CA EDD has issued Form 1099G for 2020, which summarizes all unemployment and Paid Family Leave benefits paid which are taxable by the federal government but not at the state level. EDD estimates it will issue a record 7.8 million Form 1099Gs for claimants (five times normal) so will take a few weeks to distribute these (electronically or by mail). Start filing your unemployment taxes today for free with the #1 best-selling tax software
Latest News and Updates from CA EDD on 2021 11-week Unemployment Benefits Extension
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, under the Continued Assistance Act (CAA), was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment. The PUA and PEUC program will be extended by 11 weeks, for a total of 57 weeks of PUA and 24 weeks in PEUC benefits
February 15th update: While many jobless Californians continue to see issues around claiming the extra 11-weeks passed under the CAA, the EDD has confirmed that nearly 94% of claimants eligible for PUA and PEUC can claim or are already being paid the 11 extra weeks available. Around 6%, those who had exhausted all benefits before December 26th, will have to wait until March 7th to file their claims. As discussed in this update video, there are also another 100,000 to 300,000 claimants who could see further delays due to having to switch back to the PEUC program (from their current PUA program per new CAA rules) or have not validated their identity following a CA EDD notification to do so.
[January 28th Update] CA EDD is now paying extended 2021 benefits approved under the COVID relief bill (CAA). Some key notes.
- PEUC claimants: You must use your entire existing PEUC balance (=$0) before you get the extended 11 weeks applied to your UI account balance. You will see Max Benefits paid once you do this, but this just means that your extension has not been applied. You will get an EDD notification and if you are in a new benefit year (check your claim start date) you will need to file a new claim when you next try and certify. For those in their current benefit year the 11 week extension will be automatically applied by the EDD. This may take 1 to 2 weeks and you will see a message saying you have a $0 claim balance, which will disappear once EDD applies the extension.
- PUA claimants are getting paid in all tiers and should be seeing extending benefits and payments now.
- $300 FPUC payments are being made, including retroactive weeks for which you were eligible.
For those that call the EDD, you can ask a Tier 2 agent (your initial call goes to a Tier 1, so ask for a Tier 2 one) to manually apply the 11 weeks if you have not yet seen the extension applied.
Also ensure you respond to requests for documentation for PUA claims as required in the new legislation. I covered this in detail in this video, but is a big cause of delays when it comes to paying out benefits under the new 11 week extension.
The following story around a CA readers PEUC claim may help others (and shows patience and persistence pays off)
Here is the background of my PEUC claim. I had 2 weeks left weeks left on the original 20 week extension as of 12/27/2020 so I believe I was a part of the first round of people to be reinstated. I think it’s important to mention I never received a request to confirm my identity like so many others have or any correspondence from EDD at all. After I certified for the last time 01/13/2021 my account showed that I had expired all of my allowable benefits and I couldn’t file another claim until my benefit year had ended.
At that time, my account showed $0 in the last payment issued section, $0 in the claim balance section and $0 in the weekly benefit amount section. However, it showed that I was on “extension” next to my benefit year. Late last week I started to get concerned so I began to check my account daily. I tried to call EDD 10X Saturday, 10X Sunday, 10X Monday and about 20X yesterday. All attempts were unsuccessful. When I logged into EDD’s website this morning my dashboard had changed. The update reflected a last payment on 12/28/2020 and I had a weekly benefit amount again however the claim balance was still showing $0 and I wasn’t able to certify.
This afternoon (1/28) I logged into my account and it had been completely updated. My last payment showed the correct date of 01/13/2021 and I had a new claim balance to reflect the next 11 week extension and more importantly I was also able to certify. This all feels like a never-ending frustrating stressful mess. Hopefully you all will get lucky as I did but, in the meantime, try to keep the faith!!!
[January 8th Update] Starting Monday January 10th and stretching out over a two week period, Californians out of work or working reduced hours in this historic expanded and extended PUA, PEUC and get the $300 FPUC/PAC payments.
Per EDD guidance, they are making program adjustments to make these new benefits available as soon as possible. Claimants can expect these changes for weeks starting December 27 through the week ending March 13:
• A supplemental $300 a week – Known as FPUC or Pandemic Additional Compensation (PAC) in California, the additional $300 will be added to up to 11 weeks of unemployment benefits a claimant receives. Those on a regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) or FED-ED extension claim who are scheduled to submit their bi-weekly certification including the week ending January 2 will be the first to see the extra $300 PAC payments added to their benefits as early as this Sunday, January 3. That includes an estimated 1.3 million Californians. Adding the $300 for PUA and PEUC claims will follow as soon as the revised programming is in place.
• 11 weeks added to PUA – Those who had a PUA claim expire before the week ending December 26 won’t be eligible for the new benefits until weeks beginning December 27.
• 11 weeks added to PEUC – This extension program available once someone runs out of their up to 26 weeks of regular UI benefits can now provide a total of up to 24 weeks of benefits for those who remain eligible. Just like with PUA, the new 11 weeks of PEUC benefits can only be paid for weeks beginning December 27.
Do I need to Reopen Claim to get benefits with CA EDD?
Getting this question a bit and per CA EDD, “If you stop certifying for continued benefits, and it’s been more than 30 days since you last certified for benefits, your Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim becomes inactive. You must reopen your claim to request benefit payments.” However based on calls people have had with EDD they are getting a somewhat conflicting message with one person commenting ” I just got off the phone with EDD and the rep said nobody has received an extension [as of January 11th] and only people who are receiving payments are from pending payments on December 26th. She also said it doesn’t matter if you clicked the reopen claim button the extensions will be rolled out this week and to wait for an email or text message notification that you have available weeks to certify”.
Existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following general guidelines:
- PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the new legislation. They may have to reopen their claim if they have exhausted their benefits before December 27th.
- Claimants with weeks remaining in UI should continue to file weekly claims to get the extra $300 FPUC.
- Claimants who will have additional weeks in UI and PUA or PEUC due to state provisions (where applicable) should watch their state agency UI portal or website for updates that will allow additional weeks to be filed.
- Claimants will be retroactively caught up on payments for all weeks they are eligible.
- New Claimants can backdate their claim date to December 1st (first effective weeks of coverage is December 6th) and will be eligible for the 11 week extension from December 27th.
I will post additional updates as they are released in coming days. So stay tuned.
Extra $300 Unemployment under Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program
The Lost Wages Assistance program provided an extra $300 per week in addition to your unemployment benefits if you received (existing) unemployment benefits for any weeks between July 26 and September 5, 2020. This program has now been paid out, other than retroactive payments to claimants who were eligible or working through payment issues.
The CA EDD was approved by FEMA for the $300 weekly payment under the LWA program, which provides supplemental payments to eligible unemployment benefits claimants who have been unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 and are currently eligible to receive at least $100 per week in UI benefits. The EDD has completed work on the technology requirements necessary for this program and will begin delivering payments to eligible claimants starting on September 7th. Eligible claimants will have their LWA weekly benefit payment retroactive to August 1st for the weeks that they are eligible.
CA LWA Week 6 (final week of LWA payments)
California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) just announced it will start paying out the sixth and final week of the Lost Wages Assistance program from the week of 10/12. In a news release, EDD said it is wrapping up weeks four and five of the $300 payments. The sixth week of payments that begin going out on October 12 will be the final week of payments.
COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits and Payment Issues
[August 2020] The EDD announced that they have put in place unemployment support programs so that Californians on a regular UI claim can qualify for a total of 59 weeks of benefits. If eligible, you can get 26wks of regular state UI +13wks of PEUC +20wks of FED-ED. If you don’t qualify for regular UI, you can get up to 46wks of benefits w/ PUA.
EDD has reviewed the federal CARES Act and has is now compliant with the following enhanced unemployment programs:
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): expands eligibility for individuals who are typically ineligible for
Unemployment benefits, for example independent contractors, and self-employed and “gig” workers. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) was released in California effective April 28, 2020. This program includes up to 46 weeks of benefits from February 2, 2020, through December 26, 2020, depending on when you were directly affected by COVID-19. PUA launched with up to 39 weeks of benefits and an extra seven weeks was recently added.
• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): provides an additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all recipients of Unemployment Insurance; retroactive to the week ending April 4, 2020. [Now Expired]
• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): provides an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to all recipients. The EDD initiated phase one of the PEUC roll-out on May 27. The department is now automatically reviewing regular UI claims in our system for those with a benefit year that started on or after June 2, 2019, and that have run out of all available benefits.
The EDD offers a wide variety of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) including those about the PUA program designed for the self-employed, as well as how eligibility for unemployment benefits can be impacted with a worker’s return to work or refusal to return to work.
The minimum PUA payment is $167 and the maximum is $450 per week. To qualify, your net self-employment income for 2019 needs to be more than $46,696.
If you are not able to provide proof of income, the EDD may decrease your payments. If so, you will have to repay the difference for any weeks you were paid over $167.If you qualify for your claim to be backdated to an earlier PUA effective date based on your last day of work, you could receive payment for prior weeks you were unemployed due to COVID-19. You will be required to provide the EDD eligibility information every two weeks. This is known as certifying for benefits.
CA EDD Unemployment General FAQs and Filing a Claim
Applying for PUA Backpay and Adjusting Payment Date
You can request to backdate your PUA claim date to the week you became unemployed due to COVID-19. If approved, benefits will be back paid based on your last day of work. February 2, 2020, is the earliest start date for a PUA claim. To change you claim:
- Write what needs to be corrected on your Notice of Award and mail it to the EDD address on the notice.
- Visit Ask EDD to request to backdate your claim if you think it has the wrong start date. Select Unemployment Insurance Benefits, then Claim Questions, then Backdate the Effective Date of my UI Claim Due to COVID-19.
- In your UI Online account, select Contact Us to request a change.
- Call the UI Customer Service line at 1-800-300-5616, available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week
How It Works
You must submit any retroactive certifications to determine if you were eligible to receive benefits during the waived certification period for enhanced benefits. For these waived weeks, use the retroactive certification application. Reporting wages in Ask EDD is not considered a certification. You must certify even if you did not work or earn wages.
If you do not retroactively certify, we will make a determination based on information available. If you were not eligible for benefits, you may receive a Notice of Overpayment, and you must repay the EDD.
Start Your Retroactive Certification
To retroactively certify, you will need your:
- Last name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
Challenges with CA EDD Payments Continue
The EDD is sending the following letter to people having challenges receiving the $600 payments and/or getting extended benefits. To help navigate the mandated requirements, the EDD provided the following guidance to assist workers. It all depends on when you exhausted your benefits, and when your benefit year expires.
1. If you received your last benefit payment for weeks you spent unemployed between February 2 and March 21, but are still within the one year that your claim is good for, you could be eligible for 13 weeks of PUA benefits for the weeks you are eligible for between February 2, 2020 and March 28, 2020. While you will not be able to apply for PUA through UI Online, the EDD will send you a Notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Award and a separate document you’ll need to complete to give EDD additional details that we don’t already have from you to meet PUA requirements. Watch for further updates soon.
2. If you received your last benefit payment for weeks you spent unemployed on or after March 21 and are still within your benefit year, you will not meet federal requirements for PUA. But the EDD will automatically file an extension claim for you as soon as it’s available since we will already have your information needed. You will receive a notice from EDD when that claim has been filed and when you can certify for PEUC benefit payments.
3. If you ran out of benefits before February 2 and are still within your benefit year, you most likely will not be eligible for PUA because you have to verify your unemployment is a direct result of the pandemic. However, you may be eligible for the new federal 13-week extension. The EDD will notify you of how to apply as soon as further details are available.
4. If you have run out of your benefits AND your benefit year has expired, you are encouraged to reapply for benefits through UI Online. Based on the information you provide, the EDD will determine if you qualify for a new regular UI claim based on wage data or a PUA claim.
5. If you are unable to collect regular UI benefits due to a disqualification (such as you voluntarily quit, were fired or discharged from your employer), or you are serving a false statement penalty from a past claim, you could be eligible for PUA benefits. As with group one above, you will receive a Notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Award and a separate document you’ll need to complete to give the EDD additional details that we don’t already have from you to meet PUA requirements.
Yes, you could receive partial unemployment benefits if you are only able to work part time because of the pandemic. When you certify, continue to report your income, even if it is part time.
The first $25 or 25 percent of your wages, whichever is more, will not be deducted from your benefit amount, but the rest will.
For example, if you earned $100 in a week, we would not count $25 as wages and would only deduct $75 from your weekly benefit amount. For someone who has a weekly benefit amount of $450, they would be paid a reduced amount of $375.
If your weekly benefit amount is $450 but you earned at least $600 in that week, the full $450 would be deducted leaving $0 left for any unemployment benefits that week.
You can start collecting benefits, stop when you return to work, then re-open your claim (within one year from your claim start date) if you become unemployed or your hours are reduced again.
Can I file an Unemployment Insurance claim if I am self-employed, an independent contractor, or gig worker?
If you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or gig worker and are unable to work or have had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits under a few different scenarios:
- You chose to contribute to UI Elective Coverage and paid the required contributions to be considered potentially eligible for benefits.
- Your past employer made contributions on your behalf over the past 5 to 18 months.
- You may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.
When filing for your UI claim, you will be asked for your last employer.
- If you own your business or are self-employed, you should list yourself as your last employer.
- If you are an independent contractor, you should list yourself as your last employer.
- If you believe you are misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, you should list the business you contract with as your last employer. Be sure to include:
- The employer name, phone number, and address.
- Type of work performed.
- Dates worked.
- Your gross wages and how you were paid (such as hourly or weekly).
- If you are a gig worker, you should list your gig employer as your last employer.
File a Claim
File a new claim if you have already applied for UI but are eligible for PUA because you are a business owner, independent contractor, self-employed worker, freelancer, or gig worker affected by COVID-19, and you have not already appealed a $0 award notice, been asked to verify your identity, or requested a wage investigation.
Filing a PEUC Claim
The PEUC extension is available until December 31, 2020. To make benefits available as quickly as possible, we are implementing the extension in two phases:
Beginning July 8, the EDDl start mailing notices to people who used all of their regular UI benefits, whose claims expired between July 6, 2019 and May 23, 2020, and who have not filed a new claim.
- If you have enough wages to qualify for a new claim, we will process your claim. You will need to certify your eligibility every two weeks to keep receiving regular UI payments.
- If you don’t qualify for a new claim, you will get a $0 award notice in the mail. Within a few days, you will get another notice showing that we automatically filed a PEUC extension for you. The notice will include the weeks that you need to certify for. You can also check your UI Online account for updates.
If you qualify and your extension is filed you will be backdated to one of the following, whichever comes later:
- March 29, 2020
- The last certification date of your expired claim
Payments and Certifying for Unemployment
After your extension is filed, you will need to certify for benefit payments. Certifying is answering basic questions every two weeks that tells us you’re still unemployed and eligible to continue receiving payments. Payments will be the same as the weekly benefit amount from your regular UI claim.
If you have a PUA claim, you cannot collect PEUC at the same time. If you filed a PUA claim because you used all your UI benefits, we will stop your PUA claim as of March 29, and will transfer you automatically to a PEUC claim. If you still have false statement penalty weeks on your regular UI claim, you are not eligible for PEUC and you will continue on the PUA claim.
If you use all your PEUC benefits, you may qualify for a FED-ED extension.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the following temporary exceptions are in place for all Unemployment Insurance claims until further notice:
- Waiting Period – The 7-day waiting period is waived for claims beginning on or after January 19, 2020. After you submit your first two-week continued certification, you will be paid for the first week of your claim.
- Work Search – You are not required to look for work each week to be eligible for benefits.
The individual files a claim for UI benefits using one of the following methods:
- Access eApply4UI: (online is the recommended option)
Answers to questions are entered online. After the application is completed the individual submits it online to the Department. Note: This is the fastest way to file your claim.
- Contact EDD by phone:
Individuals will speak to a Department representative who will ask a series of questions and record the responses.
- Complete a paper UI Application, DE 1101I:
The application can be completed online and printed, or it can be printed and completed by hand. The application can then be faxed or mailed to the EDD for processing using the fax number or mailing address on the application.
Benefit Year End
After Your Benefit Year
- If your benefit year has expired, you must file another unemployment claim. The EDD will send you a notice telling you to file a new claim if you are still unemployed. UI Online is still the fastest way to apply. If you are not actively claiming benefits and your year ends, you will need to still apply but won’t get a notice from the EDD. Some other considerations:
- If you are currently collecting PEUC benefits and filed a new regular UI claim, we might continue paying benefits on your PEUC extension, instead of your regular UI claim if the weekly benefit amount on your PEUC extension is at least $25 more than the weekly benefit amount on your new regular UI claim. This is allowed under the new Deferred New Claim Payment (DNCP) program. The regular UI claim you recently qualified for will be on hold until you collect all available PEUC benefits, or until the PEUC extension ends on March 13, 2021, whichever comes first.
- Once you have collected all available benefits on your PEUC extension, and if you are still unemployed and eligible, we will automatically start paying benefits on your new regular UI claim. There is no need to contact us.
- If you don’t qualify for a new claim after the benefit year expires, two things will happen.
- First, you will receive a $0 award notice in the mail saying there are not enough wages for a new claim.
- A few days later, you will receive another notice showing that we automatically filed a PEUC extension on your original expired unemployment claim. You will also receive a text message about the filed extension. If you are already collecting PEUC benefits and filed a UI claim after that which you don’t qualify for, we will continue paying you under the PEUC extension.