California Unemployment Extension
In times of economic hardship, Congress can pass special legislation to provide Extended Benefits (EB) to individuals who have been unemployed for an extended period. If this program is in place, individuals who have exhausted their regular UI benefits and do not qualify for any other UI claims may be eligible for additional benefits.
The EDD will notify eligible individuals through mail and media outlets when Federal Extended Benefits become available.
The Federal-State Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 1970 established the extended benefits program known in California as Federal-State Extended Duration (Fed-ED). 50% of the program is funded by the federal government, and 50% is funded by the state of California.
When activated, the Fed-ED program provides additional weeks of compensation to individuals who have exhausted their regular UI claim. If a Fed-ED period is in effect, eligible claimants can receive up to 13 additional weeks of compensation.
The program is activated when the state’s Insured Unemployment Rate (IUR) meets certain criteria. Fed-ED is activated when the state’s IUR equals or exceeds 5% and is at least 120% higher than the average IUR for the same period in the two previous years, or when the state’s IUR is 6 percent or higher.
Eligibility for benefits under Fed-ED is more stringent than for regular UI claims. To qualify for a Fed-ED claim, a claimant must have earnings during the base period of their regular UI claim that exceed 40 times the weekly benefit amount. For example, if the regular UI claim amount is $90 a week, the claimant must have earned at least $3,601 in their base period to be eligible for a Fed-ED claim.
Fed-ED payments were no longer sent after September 11, 2021.
California Extended Duration (Cal-ED)
California operates its own extended benefits program, which is financed by the state’s unemployment insurance fund. This program, known as Cal-ED, functions similarly to the federal program, Fed-ED. Eligible California workers can receive up to half of their regular UI base claim. However, if you have already received the full amount of extended benefits through Fed-ED, they are not eligible to receive benefits under Cal-ED for the same base claim. Cal-ED benefits are currently not available.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
The EDD provides services to people and businesses affected by disasters in California. If you lost your job or cannot work because of a disaster in California, you might be eligible for special unemployment benefits.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance can only be activated when the President of the United States grants authorization. Examples of natural disasters include hurricanes, tornados, storms, floods, earthquakes, drought, or forest fires.
DUA benefits may be available to those who have lost their job or workplace, are unable to reach their workplace, cannot work due to damage to their workplace, or have been injured as a result of the disaster. If the former head of household has died due to the disaster, an individual who has become the head of the household and is seeking work may also be eligible for DUA benefits.
Weekly DUA payments are computed in the same way as regular unemployment insurance (UI) payments, based on a base period of earnings as prescribed by state UI law. The base period for all DUA claimants is the most recently completed tax year prior to their last date worked, except for self-employed individuals who may use an alternate tax year.
The minimum weekly DUA payment is 50% of the average unemployment compensation amount in California during the quarter immediately preceding the date of the disaster.
COVID-19: Federal Unemployment Benefits
The CARES Act is a federal law passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that aimed to provide financial relief to individuals, businesses, and healthcare organizations. The law included measures such as direct payments to individuals and expanded unemployment benefits. The CARES Act was signed into law in March 2020.
In California, all federal unemployment benefit programs under the CARES Act ended on September 4, 2021.
Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)
The MEUC program provided an additional $100 per week in unemployment benefits to claimants who earned self-employment income in the year before their claim. To be eligible, you must have been receiving regular UI benefits or extensions, and have earned at least $5,000 in net income from self-employment. Eligible recipients earned up to 36 weeks of benefits through September 4, 2021.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
PUA provided federal assistance to unemployed individuals in California who did not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits. Between February 2, 2020 and September 4, 2021, eligible individuals received up to 86 weeks of benefits. The availability of benefits depended on the date of direct impact from COVID-19 and the filing date of the PUA claim.
To be eligible for PUA, individuals needed to have experienced business closure or a significant reduction in services due to the pandemic, and not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. This included business owners, self-employed workers, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and individuals who had exhausted their regular UI benefits and any extended benefits.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) offered up to 53 additional weeks of payments for those who had exhausted all available unemployment benefits. The initial 13 weeks were available from March 29, 2020 to September 4, 2021.
An additional 11 weeks were available from December 27, 2020 to September 4, 2021. Once an individual had collected the first 24 weeks, they could receive an additional 29 weeks from March 14, 2021 to September 4, 2021. To be eligible for a PEUC extension, the regular UI claim must have started on July 8, 2018, or later.
For those who had run out of benefits within their benefit year, the PEUC extension was automatically filed on their regular unemployment claim. This program ended on September 4, 2021.
Pandemic Additional Compensation (PAC)
Pandemic Additional Compensation (PAC) was also known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
From December 27, 2020 to September 4, 2021, PAC provided an additional $300 in federal unemployment compensation on top of the regular weekly benefit amount for eligible weeks of unemployment. There was no need for individuals to take any action as the federal unemployment compensation was automatically added to their benefits.
Between March 29 and July 25, 2020, an additional $600 in federal unemployment compensation was paid on top of the weekly benefit amount for eligible weeks of unemployment. It was considered taxable income and reported to the IRS.
Please note: All benefit programs under the CARES Act ended on September 4, 2021.