05/19/2021: American Federation of Teachers Guild, Local 1931 Click here for an overview of California’s Unemployment Insurance Program, its benefits, and the recent changes that have occurred as a result of Federal emergency relief bills to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 health crisis.
05/18/2021: Recent Changes to How Unemployment Benefits Work
New Federal Relief Adds $300 per Week to UI Benefits
The federal government has passed another relief/stimulus package which includes additional money for unemployment. According to the California EDD: “The new American Rescue Plan Act … Continues the federal increase for all unemployment benefits, which adds $300 to each week of benefits through September 4, 2021.”
This means that the maximum benefits award is $750 per week (not the usual $450 per week) until September 4.
Work Search Certification Does Not Currently Affect Benefit Eligibility
According to the Cailifornia EDD: “Every two weeks claimants must certify for benefits by answering bi-weekly certification questions, including whether the claimant has looked for work. however, due to the impact of COVID-19 on a worker’s ability to find work, claimants have not been required to search for work since March 2020. Thus, claimants may continue to answer “no” to the bi-weekly certification question “Did you look for work?” without impacting eligibility at this time. The Department will continue to update the public on any future changes to this work search requirement.”
Note that the federal government is encoraging states to reinstate work search requirements, so this could change at any time.
IRS Changes: First $10,200 of 2020 UI Benefits Are Nontaxable
According to the Cailifornia EDD: “The Internal Revenue Service announced that the first $10,200 of 2020 unemployment benefits are nontaxable. Those who received unemployment benefits last year and have already filed their 2020 tax return, should not file an amended return at this time because the IRS said it will automatically refund money to those who filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation before the recent changes made by the American Rescue Plan.”
CA EDD Now Uses a New ID Verification System
The California EDD is now imposing stricter identification requirements on those filing for unemployment benefits. Specifically, you may be required to use the ID.me system to verify who you are. The ID.me system will need:
- A copy of an identification document, such as a driver’s license or a passport. So you will need to be able to scan or take a good-quality photo of your document, and then submit it electronically.
- A current photo of yourself. So you will need to be able to take a selfie/video and submit it electronically. If the selfie photo does not look similar to the photo on your ID, it may be rejected.
For more info, visit Contingent World
Backlogged Claims, Calls, from calmatters.org:
“Everything that should be up is up and everything that should be down is down,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in January when lifting California’s regional stay-at-home order.
Today, that statement holds true for many aspects of California’s pandemic response — vaccinations are up, infections are down, hospitalizations are down — but rings hollow when it comes to the state unemployment department, where numbers are trending in the wrong direction. According to figures released Thursday, the Employment Development Department’s backlog of unresolved claims had ballooned to 1.08 million as of May 1, up from 1.05 million the week before and 1.03 million the week before that. The logjam has contained more than 1 million claims for 13 straight weeks.
Around 450,000 of those claims are pending EDD action, while the remainder are awaiting certification from jobless Californians, according to agency documents. But residents have long said jammed phone lines and tech glitches have hampered them from certifying claims, and data shows EDD’s call center is also going in the wrong direction. The agency answered less than 6% of the 4.8 million calls it received from April 24 to May 1, with each person calling about 12 times in an attempt to get through. That’s significantly worse than in late March, when EDD answered 10.5% of calls and each person called about eight times.
Assemblymember David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat: “My office has been receiving countless calls from desperate constituents, many of whom are in tears, some of whom are on the brink of homelessness and even some of who have threatened suicide.”
Lawmakers this week recommended rejecting Newsom’s budget proposal to create a new Department of Better Jobs and Higher Wages within the state labor agency, noting that “a new bureaucracy” wouldn’t help reduce the claim backlog. EDD, apparently cognizant of the Legislature’s mounting frustration, published this week a list of new tools and resources to improve customer service.
Newsom also appears aware that EDD is a liability. The same day Secretary of State Shirley Weber said enough signatures had been gathered to force a recall election, the governor’s unemployment fraud task force announced it had arrested 68 people and opened another 1,641 cases.
CA Rural Legal Assistance located in Marysville can provide legal aid regardless of income level. Their number is 530-742-5191.
If you have a claim but hold more than one job use the Center for Workers Rights. They are a statewide resource and can be reached at 916-905-5857.
- Earnings worksheet #1 – for calculating the quarterly income (interactive online form)
- Earnings Worksheet #2 – for calculating hours worked and hourly pay (PDF for printing)