Unemployment benefits paid to workers hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last three-and-a-half months now total $37.5 billion, $4 billion alone just last week – providing critical financial support to families and communities throughout California. According to the latest data, the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) has processed a total of more than seven million claims in just a few months, almost doubling the claim total over the worst full year of the Great Recession (3.8 million claims in 2010).
EDD launching second phase of PEUC extension benefits
On July 8th, the EDD will complete a phased roll-out of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extension and begin notifying additional claimants of their potential eligibility for a PEUC extension. The PEUC provides up to 13 weeks of additional benefits once someone runs out of their regular UI benefits or their recent claim expires and they no longer qualify for a subsequent regular claim. The extra benefits are paid for by the federal government as part of the federal CARES Act. Visit the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) webpage for more information and FAQs.
Update on EDD’s expedited mass hiring effort
This unprecedented pandemic hit at a time when the state was seeing record low unemployment with correspondingly low federal administrative funding and therefore reduced staffing levels. With the increased claim workload and associated increased federal funding, the EDD is working to add 5,300 new staff, up from an initial target of 4,800 hires. Through an expedited mass hiring effort, the EDD has already hired or have offers extended to more than 4,000 new staff. More than 100 have already completed initial training and are assisting customers on EDD’s phone lines. For more information about the positions available statewide, visit the EDD’s Career Opportunities webpage.
Certification requirement for many claimants with past payments
A key requirement in the Unemployment Insurance program is for every claimant to complete a bi-weekly certification – answering basic questions that inform the EDD that they remain unemployed and eligible to continue receiving payments. As part of an emergency effort to help process a historically high number of unemployment claims, this certification requirement was temporarily suspended for regular UI and PUA claims early in the pandemic. Many claimants continued to certify for their payments during that time. But for those who did not, the EDD did indicate certifications would be required later. That requirement is now being implemented.
- If claimants received benefit payments but did not submit a certification for those payments, they must now certify for those weeks to confirm eligibility. This is known as “retroactive certification” which must be completed by October 5, 2020 to help us determine if these claimants were indeed eligible to receive those benefits during the temporarily-suspended certification period.
- Claimants will need to use the application on the Retroactive Certification webpage to certify for the weeks they didn’t certify for before. Some claimants did report wages through AskEDD if they returned to work during the temporary suspension. But the EDD is still required to get a completed certification for all claimants during this period, even if you did not work or earn wages at that time.
- Claimants are encouraged to retroactively certify right away. If a retroactive certification is not completed by October 5, 2020, the EDD will have to make an eligibility determination based on information available and if eligibility for payment is not supported, the claimant could be required to repay the EDD.
- For those claimants who did return to work during the temporary suspension and received benefits anyway, the EDD is required to get a completed certification from them as well. These claimants should also follow the instructions on the Retroactive Certification webpage for reporting how much was earned during each of those weeks benefits were paid. The EDD will follow up with each of these claimants with information as to how any payments received can be returned to the EDD. Claimants in this situation will not face false statement penalties due to the emergency temporary certification suspension period, and may be eligible for a waiver of any overpayment.
Helping claimants get the EDD Customer Account Number they need
The fastest and most efficient way for claimants to complete their required bi-weekly certifications to qualify for their ongoing benefit payments is through UI Online. To do so, individuals will be sent an EDD Customer Account (EDDCAN) through the mail as part of the package containing their monetary award notice. The EDDCAN allows individuals to complete their registration in UI Online so they can gain all functionality of the system, including the ability to complete their bi-weekly certifications online. The mailed package usually arrives within about 10 days of filing an initial claim for benefits. If that mailed package is delayed for any reason, the claimant has a couple of options to gain access to UI Online for certifying for their first benefit payment.
- The EDD is automatically completing the registration in UI Online for those with claims that are not undergoing any further review for issues like identity or wage verification. That means the EDDCAN won’t be required for most claimants to log-in to UI Online and move on to certifying their eligibility for benefits. These claimants should look for an email from the EDD that says “New Online Account Created”, indicating further UI Online registration is completed for them.
- Customers can also visit AskEDD to request their EDDCAN. Simply select the “Unemployment Insurance” category, followed by the “UI Online” subcategory and then “EDD Customer Account Number”. By pressing “continue” and completing the information asked for, the EDD can send a message with the requested EDDCAN to the customer’s personal email address within about five days.
- Customers can also call EDD for their EDDCAN at 1-833-978-2511 or TTY 1-800-815-9387.
The article by Monica Vargas above was released by the California Employment Development Department.