CALIFORNIA, USA — Unemployed people in California will get a little extra help, as the state has been approved for two additional weeks of the extra $300 benefit payments.
California's Employment Development Department (EDD) started processing the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments on Monday, Sept. 7. As the first payments started going out, California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su announced the state received approval for two more weeks of the benefit boost.
The extension of the LWA payments means qualified people can now get up to five weeks of the additional $300 added to their unemployment benefits, or $1,500 total. Initially, EDD said it could only promise three weeks of the extra payments.
Update: EDD announced on Sept. 10 it is seeking a sixth week of LWA payments.
LWA payment phases
EDD started processing the first LWA payments on Monday. Those payments will go to people who have already met all the payment requirements.
EDD will automatically add the LWA payments to the benefits of people in phase one. Payments will be issued retroactively for weeks beginning July 26. EDD has said it will take a "couple of weeks" to get all the payments out.
A second group of people, who still need to certify they are unemployed due to COVID-19 related reasons, will start hearing from EDD after September 15.
EDD said it will send notifications to people in phase two by email, text message, or mail.
For people in the second phase, EDD recommends they log onto their UI Online account and complete the one-time self-attestation. Self-attestation by paper is also available.
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EDD has clarified some information about eligibility, specifically as it pertains to the $100 benefit requirement to receive the LWA payments.
EDD now states, “in order to qualify for LWA payments, claimants must meet these federal requirements:
- Have a minimum weekly benefit award of $100 or more on their initial claim and received a payment on that claim between July 26 and August 15. This means an individual may have received less than $100 a week in benefits during that time due to reporting some work income, but would still qualify for the extra LWA payment.
- Have self-attested to EDD that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.”
EDD adds, "you are not eligible for LWA payments if you are receiving Disaster Unemployment Assistance, State Special School Benefits, or a Training Extension."
$100 benefit minimum disqualifies thousands of people
The $100 benefit minimum means thousands of people in California, including some of the lowest income earners, along with some mixed-income workers (those who earn a combination of traditional and self-employment income), will not receive the additional $300 per week.
A recent analysis from California Policy Lab estimates 192,000 people receiving unemployment benefits in California will not qualify for the $300 boost. The $100 minimum eligibility requirement is part of President Trump’s executive order and California must distribute the funds according to FEMA rules.
California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su posted on Twitter that California's congressional delegation is "working hard to get more federal aid," but did not elaborate on their efforts.
California Rep. Adam Schiff has introduced the ‘Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act of 2020,’ which could help mixed-income workers. The bill would let people who received at least $7,250 from self-employment opt into the PUA program.
The EDD calculates how much a person receives in unemployment insurance benefits based on the base period of their claim. According to an EDD table, a person would need to have earned at least $2,574.01 in a qualifying quarter to receive at least $100 in unemployment benefits from the state.
Many mixed-income workers are getting payments below $100 per week because of a rule that requires EDD to consider W-2 wages before 1099 earnings.
If you have more questions about unemployment in California, text 'EDD' to 916-321-3310 to reach our Dollars and Sense team.