Millions of Californians have lost their jobs and are relying on unemployment benefits. However, those benefits usually only last for a few months, which means many people are reaching the end. California's FED-ED program extends those benefits for another 20 weeks.
"It basically goes ahead and furthers that claim," said Loree Levy with the Employment Development Department. "It's like an extension of your regular claim."
Usually, unemployment benefits are paid by a combination of businesses, and both the state and the federal government. The FED-ED program relies on federal funds.
"We can now go ahead and receive 100 percent federal funding," Levy said. "That boosts it up to 20 extra weeks of benefits for workers who are still struggling to get back to work."
Since the pandemic began the state's EDD office has processed more than 9.3 million unemployment claims. More than $55 billion has been paid out as part of the usual unemployment program, but tens of thousands of people are already switching to the FED-ED program.
There is no application for the FED-ED program. Instead, the state automatically checks to see if you are eligible, then enrolls you in the program. If you are not eligible, then the state will notify you so you can appeal the decision if you believe it was made in error. To be eligible, the EDD says you must:
- Have a regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim that started on or after May 19, 2019.
- Used all benefits on your UI claim and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation extension, or your claim has expired.
- Do not qualify for a new UI claim in California or any other state.
- Meet UI eligibility requirements and are not disqualified.
- Made enough earnings in the base period of your regular UI claim.
So far more than $31 million has been paid out under the extension. Because the program is funded by the federal government, those payments do not impact businesses.
"It won't be charged to employers, so there's an additional benefit," Levy said. "All the COVID related charges won't increase their tax rate, which is a really big thing for employers."
If you are switched to the FED-ED program you are still required the usual bi-weekly certification to make sure you are still eligible. Many people still need to retroactively file the certification for their benefits. That's because the early part of the pandemic, the EDD did not require the certification to help get benefits to people as quickly as possible.