The California Employment Development Department is offering benefit programs to those individuals who have lost their jobs or have had their hours reduced due to the impacts of COVID-19.
These programs are designed to replace a portion of the wages workers are losing through no fault of their own, and are available to those affected for medical reasons or for economic impact reasons.
“The sudden and immense impact on jobs and Californians’ earnings due to the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented,” said EDD Director Sharon Hilliard. “At the EDD, we know that our employment benefit programs are a critical lifeline for Californians and we are applying any and all means to ensure we process claims and issue payments as quickly as possible.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom's previous executive order waived the one-week unpaid waiting period, so individuals can collect unemployment insurance benefits from the first week they are out of work. It will still take a few weeks to process a claim before the first payment can be issued to an eligible worker.
The EDD has programs for people who have lost wages for a medical reason or for a job loss or hours reduction.
If an individual is unable to work due to being ill or due to a medical quarantine related to COVID-19, the worker is encouraged to file a claim for disability insurance. If an individual is unable to work because he or she has to care for an ill or medically quarantined family member related to COVID-19, the worker is encouraged to file a claim for paid family leave.
Both programs are part of the State Disability Insurance program and both require a medical certification from a treating physician or a written order from a state or local health officer.
Benefit amounts are based on wages earned over the past 12-18 months and range from $50 -$1,300 a week.
If an individual is not ill or caring for an ill or medically quarantined family member and has lost a job or has had hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19, the worker is encouraged to file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. This includes a parent who needs to stay home to care for dependent children due to a school closure.
Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able and available and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria.
Benefit amounts are based on wages earned over the past 12-18 months and range from $40 -$450 a week.
Self-employed individuals may not be eligible for benefits since the unemployment and SDI programs are insurance programs and either a worker or their employer has to have contributed to them in order for a worker to be covered for potential benefits. It’s possible such a worker may have past wages earned or has been misclassified.
Filing a claim for each of these benefit programs can and should be done online whenever possible. Online services are available through a mobile phone to help workers who may not have access to a computer at home.
Workers found eligible for benefits are encouraged to select an EDD Debit Card as the method for receiving benefit payments instead of checks in order to receive those benefits as fast as possible.
It will still take a couple of weeks for claims to be processed and payments to start. The EDD said the agency is facing a sudden and unprecedented demand for benefits because of COVID-19. EDD staff is working overtime seven days a week and is encouraging staff to return from recent retirements and hiring additional staff.
With the heavy load on the online systems, the EDD encourages workers who may encounter any issue with getting into the systems to try again a little later. The systems are available around the clock, with some limitations in the late evenings as claims processed are forwarded for payment.
The EDD has put all the resources and links for applications on a COVID-19 page available at https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/.