The California Labor Secretary released a letter called the "Open Letter to Californians Regarding Unemployment Insurance (UI) Payments and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Timeline" on April 14th. CAR will be releasing and FAQ on this within the next day or two.
Here is a summary of the facts:
- The Employment Development Department (EDD) computer systems are not crashing.
- Californians eligible for certification on April 12 began to see the $600/week additional payments provided for under the federal CARES Act today.
- The CARES Act also created a special program for this crisis called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA.
- PUA provides federally funded benefits distinct from the UI program for certain individuals out of work or partially unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis, including the self-employed, individuals who lack sufficient work history, and independent contractors. Federal guidelines on how to administer PUA came out on April 5 and include gig workers as an example of those eligible for PUA.
- Since April 5th, the EDD has been helping Californians get what they are entitled to under PUA.
- There will be a one-stop shop for applying for UI and PUA. Individuals will be able to go to UI Online to self-certify that they meet the COVID-19-related criteria for PUA. The EDD will make clear in the self-certification that certification of eligibility for PUA does not affect determinations of employee status under state law for other protections and benefits.
- Under PUA, individuals can receive weekly unemployment assistance that may be equivalent to what individuals would get under UI (depending on their earnings and whether earnings can be verified).
- Those who get PUA also get the $600/per week additional payment added to UI for weeks they are unemployed from March 29 until the end of July.
- PUA benefits can cover people unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 from January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020 depending on date of actual impact. (In other words, it is retroactive to the time before the federal stimulus bill was passed and before funding was made available.)
- When you apply and your application is approved, you will get PUA benefits going back to the first full week of February as long as you can show that your inability to work was COVID-19 related.
- A new system will be able to pay individuals within 24 to 48 hours of their application. The EDD needs two weeks to create this new system.