SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Millions of unemployed people in California will soon get a $300 per week boost to their benefits as part of the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. That program is part of an executive order signed by President Trump earlier this month.
When will people receive the money?
EDD said it will start processing payments beginning the week of September 7.
EDD says the LWA money will roll out in phases. According to EDD, the first phase covers people who "previously provided information that they were unemployed due to a COVID-19 related reason on their initial application and have already received their regular state or federal unemployment payments for benefit weeks between July 26 and August 15."
EDD says the second phase will cover people "did not have the opportunity to indicate they were unemployed due to a COVID-19 reason on their initial application and still meet the minimum $100 weekly benefit amount eligibility requirement."
EDD says it will send notifications to people in the second phase, asking them to complete a one-time self-certification if they are unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. Notifications will be sent by email, text message or mail starting in mid-September.
In a presentation given to the California State Assembly earlier this month, EDD stated it was "on schedule to begin issuing payments in September."
Who is eligible?
The EDD lists two specific requirements for people to receive the LWA payments:
- currently eligible to receive at least $100 per week in benefits, and
- who have provided a self-certification that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
The $100 benefit minimum means some of the lowest-income earners will not receive the additional $300 per week. The $100 minimum eligibility requirement is part of the President’s executive order and California must distribute the funds according to FEMA rules.
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.
As for the self-certification due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, EDD said in a news release, "generally, claimants who applied for benefits mid-March would have been presented with questions about being unemployed due to a COVID-19 reason."
For people who did not already self-certify about disruptions due to COVID-19, EDD will start reaching out in mid-September.
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What do I need to do to get the money?
People who are eligible to receive the LWA payments should automatically receive them from EDD, much like the earlier $600 unemployment boost.
I heard the President approved $400, why is California paying $300?
The initial executive order signed by President Trump required states to pay a quarter of the program’s costs. That would mean states would need to pay $100 in additional benefits to be eligible for the $300 from the federal government.
Several governors, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, said they couldn’t afford the additional payments. Newsom said it would have cost the state at least $700 million a week.
FEMA has since amended the requirements and made the $100 payments optional for states.
California is opting to give people $300 from the federal government without paying an additional $100 from the state's budget.
How long will the $300 payments last?
The EDD said, “the LWA supplemental payment of $300 per week will be available for a limited period of time, a minimum of three weeks.”
The three weeks timeline is based on the funding that California received for the program. FEMA approved California for an initial LWA payment of $4.5 billion, with the possibility of additional funding going forward.
The EDD will pay retroactive benefits for weeks of unemployment dating back to Aug. 1st. That likely means, that without additional funding from FEMA, most people would use up their three weeks of benefits in retroactive pay.