Californians who qualify for an extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits will begin to see the payments processed after the Labor Day weekend.
The state’s Employment Development Department said Thursday it will begin processing the payments in two phases starting on Sept. 7.
Eligible claimants will receive the supplemental $300 payment per week for a minimum of three weeks.
The money comes from a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that will provide, for a limited time, an extra $300 per week on top of the regular benefits that millions of Californians are receiving after losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.
The state has an initial $4.5 billion to give out as part of the Lost Wages Assistance program.
In order to be eligible, federal guidelines say the claimant must already receive minimum weekly benefits of at least $100, and have self-certified that they’ve lost work due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
More: California approved for extra $300 in FEMA unemployment benefits
California will process the payments in two phases. The first phase will cover claimants who confirmed they’re unemployed due to a COVID-19-related reason on their initial application and have already received payments for benefit weeks between July 26 and Aug. 15.
The second phase “will cover claimants who did not have the opportunity to indicate they were unemployed due to a COVID-19 reason on their initial application,” but still meet the minimum $100 weekly benefit requirement, EDD said Thursday. The department will be texting, emailing and sending letters to claimants to complete a one-time self-certification to confirm whether they were unemployed due to the pandemic.
The EDD didn’t immediately respond to a request about how many claimants earn under the $100 threshold and will not be receiving the extra benefits. But benefits are calculated based on prior earnings, meaning that people who had lower incomes to start with may not receive the extra $300 per week.
Since the pandemic started, EDD has disbursed $71 billion in benefits and processed more than 11 million claims.
About $23.5 billion of those payments are Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal unemployment program created this year in response to the massive job loss. It covers people who wouldn’t qualify for traditional unemployment, such as gig workers.
While Gov. Gavin Newsom has taken some steps to reopen more of the state’s economy to address the widespread fiscal crises, the amount of claims that are being processed and paid out continues to be staggeringly high. Last week, California paid out an average of $724 million in benefits each day, 967% higher than the daily average of $68 million at the height of the Great Recession in 2010.
More than 2.5 million Californians remained unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 13.3% for the fourth consecutive month of a double-digit unemployment rate.
Melissa Daniels covers economic development, hospitality and local business in the Coachella Valley. She can be reached at (760)-567-8458, [email protected], or on Twitter @melissamdaniels.