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Self-employed have 2-week wait before unemployment benefits arrive

California is staring at record amounts of unemployment. But relief for self-employed workers is on the way while people on unemployment start seeing a $600 boost.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Californians are struggling as the region looks toward record-setting unemployment in May, but more help is on the way.

In an update from California’s Employment Development Department, an extra $600, courtesy of the CARES Act, is being rolled out to people on unemployment. Some will have already gotten their boost, but, others may have to wait until they finish certifying for next week.

Californians who were eligible to certify on April 12 have already started seeing the $600 per week deposits. However, help for self-employed workers impacted is a little further away. 


It’ll take about two more weeks to get the application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance [PUA] going, according to California Labor Secretary Julie Su. 

Depending on when the impact of the virus happened to each person, this assistance will cover people who can prove unemployment or partial unemployment between Jan. 27 and Dec. 31, 2020.

This includes people who are self-employed, who lack sufficient work history, gig workers, and independent contractors.

“I know two weeks sounds like an eternity right now, but we wanted to make sure that once it goes lives that it works, that it’s fast, and that you get paid very, very quickly,” Su said in Facebook Live.

As far as speed goes, the department is aiming to get benefits paid out to people between 24 and 48 hours after they apply. 

Su said part of the reason the payout will be quick is because the department will be giving people the minimum amount, $167 a week, in case people don't have all the information they need right away. 

Once everything is assessed, the department goes back and pays the difference that you’re actually owed. The payout will depend on each individual's earnings.

Su says these PUA benefits will let you collect payments for coronavirus impacts dated by to the first week of February if you can show that the inability to work was related to coronavirus.

The pending-program isn’t just for the self-employed. It’ll also be a boon for people who need an extension on their unemployment benefits but, further details on this feature are still to come.


People on PUA will also be eligible for the extra $600 boost from the CARES Act, however, it's important to note that the boost only runs until the end of July.

The extra $600 per week is for unemployed weeks between March 29 to the end of July.  

The new features are rolling out as California grapples with call center queues for the Employment Development Department. In her letter to Californians, Su said the office is working toward having a seven day a week call center.

Additional FAQs for the new systems will be rolling out on the EDD page in the coming weeks.


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How do I apply for unemployment benefits in coronavirus pandemic? Unemployment questions | Pt. 1