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Coronavirus Unemployment: $600 Checks On The Way - For Some

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- Californians who are already getting unemployment from the EDD are about to get a big bump in their bi-weekly checks. But for the millions who don't qualify for state unemployment, it's still not clear how or when the EDD will get them the money they are entitled to.

Starting Sunday, April 12, Californians who have already qualified for state unemployment will begin automatically getting the extra $600 a week in CARES ACT Federal Unemployment on top of their current EDD unemployment check.

EDD payments are made every two weeks. The agency provides the following example:

"For someone receiving the most recent average Unemployment Insurance payment of $340 a week, a usual biweekly payment would equal $680. With the extra payment, that biweekly payment would increase to $1,880."

Is there back pay?

Yes. If you qualified for unemployment prior to April 4, you will get two weeks of the retroactive federal payments. You should get $600 for each of the weeks ending April 4 and April 11.

What about Californians who are self-employed, gig workers or others who don't qualify for state unemployment?

The short answer is: we don't know yet.

The CARES Act authorizes unemployment payments for people who don't otherwise qualify for state unemployment - including people who are self-employed and who have already used up their maximum 26 weeks of state unemployment.

However, the EDD is supposed to distribute that money to Californians, not the feds, and the agency has not yet implemented California's new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

It should, at some point, provide up to 39 weeks of state benefits for those who don't otherwise qualify, along with the federal benefits of $600 a week for those unemployed March 29-July 31, 2020.

However, the EDD says it will need time to develop the necessary system programming and forms and has provided no timeline.

How many people are actually getting the money they are entitled to?

The EDD says it processed 1,983,775 of claims since the week ending March 21. That was the week the Governor's stay-at-home order was issued. However, it is unclear how many of those people are actually receiving payments.

The EDD told CBS13 that those "processed claims" include claims that have been denied and claims that the EDD is still working on but "needs more information to process it, and is following up with the appropriate parties to retrieve said information."

CBS13 has asked the EDD to identify, of the "claims processed" since the week ending March 21:

  • How many claimants have already received payment?
  • How many claims were approved?
  • How many claims were denied?
  • How many claims are still in process (EDD waiting for additional information)

What about the EDD errors we've been hearing about?

It is important to note that CBS13 is hearing from many people who believe they are being denied in error, but cannot get through to the EDD on their limited phone line which is only manned for four hours a day.

Several people have reported that the EDD sent them a letter specifying a date and time for a scheduled phone interview. The letter states that the EDD will call them.

In some cases, the number printed on their letter was wrong. In other cases, when their phone rang at the scheduled time, the call was immediately disconnected and no one from the EDD called back.

Some viewers have told CBS13 that they received a denial letter, but the social security numbers on the letter was not theirs. In fact, they say it was not even close to their number which they say, indicates to them, that it was not a typo, but a printing error.

Others tell us that their denial letter said they have $0 qualifying income over the past 4 quarters, even though they did have traditional jobs and their wadges should have qualified.

What if you were denied in error? 

The EDD emailed CBS13 the following response when we asked them about the issues some of our viewers are facing:

"On our end, since we've been able to adjust some of the usual eligibility requirements due to these unique circumstances, we should still be able to process the claim through. It's possible that this person filed their claim before the EDD received authority to adjust eligibility requirements starting around March 20 due to the unique situation facing so many workers and their employers during this pandemic.

Also, if someone was disqualified for a week of benefits, that does not render them disqualified indefinitely. The requirement to look for work is determined on a week-by-week basis when certifying for benefits. Also, if the individual thinks they should be eligible for a week or weeks of benefits when they didn't look for work, the individual should submit an appeal by mailing in the form that was sent with their disqualification or by writing a letter of appeal and returning it to the address on the disqualification notice. In the appeal, the individual should explain their circumstances and the reason they did not look for work. This will allow the EDD to reconsider the initial disqualification and potentially determine them eligible for benefits. An appeal should be submitted within 30 days of the mailed disqualification notice."

However, each of the viewers who reported apparent EDD errors to CBS13 say that they did not receive an appeal letter and, following the denial, their online portal would not allow them to re-apply or appeal.

What if you can't get through to the EDD?

Yolo County tweeted this number for their Health and Human Services. We shared it with some CBS13 viewers and several people, outside of Yolo County, tell us they have been able to get help by calling this number when they can't get through to the EDD.


Follow our continuing coverage as CBS13 works to get answers to your Coronavirus Unemployment Questions: 

CBS13 Investigates: Coronavirus Unemployment


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