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$124 billion in benefits paid, 20.5 million unemployment claims filed since pandemic began, EDD says

EDD provided an update on the latest data but offered little assurance that problems ranging from payment delays to tech issues have been solved.

SACRAMENTO, California — Roughly $124 billion in benefits have been paid out for about 20.5 million unemployment claims in California since the pandemic began, according to the state's Employment Development Department (EDD). 

The EDD on Friday released the latest data on unemployment claims in the last year or so, showcasing the incredible magnitude of joblessness in California since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, the press release offered little assurance that the department has solved its numerous problems, which range from frozen accounts to a slow appeals process to tech issues

According to the press release, 3.7 million people collected benefits in the last month alone. The EDD breaks this down further by examining Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims versus regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims. 

One-third of those 3.7 million people were on PUA, while the rest were collecting UI through either the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extension or the Federal-State Extended Duration (FED-ED) extension. Those collecting PUA are people who are not eligible for state unemployment benefits, such as those who were self-employed when the pandemic began. 

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The department has begun issuing the $300 unemployment boost, which has resulted in a total of about $6.5 billion paid this year. The EDD also said it is "continuing to take action" to provide the additional 11 weeks of PUA and PEUC benefits to roughly 1.5 million people who would have lost benefits when extensions expired at the end of 2020. 

However, as ABC10 has reported previously, this effort was slowed down by what the department described as a “programming infrastructure” problem. 

"The first of the remaining approximately 185,000 people as part of Phase Two are being notified this week that they can now certify their eligibility for the extended payments," EDD said.  

The department said all people who are eligible to receive the extension should see emails, texts or mailed notices in the days ahead and be able to certify by March 7, 2021. Until then, however, EDD has said it will not be able to process some new payments.

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