Do you have questions about unemployment in California? We talked to EDD about debit cards, waiting times, how to get benefits during the COVID-19 crisis.


SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, many have questions about how to get unemployment benefits. California is seeing “unprecedented” numbers during the pandemic with approximately 4.6 million residents applying for unemployment since March 12, according to the latest projections by Governor Gavin Newsom.

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During an interview with ABC7 on Thursday, Loree Levy with the California Department of Employment Development revealed some good news: The 13-week extension under the federal CARES Act for those who have already used the maximum benefits over a 12-month period is will extend at the end of this month

The EDD is expected to release more information about the launch on Thursday night.

EDD Recruitment Efforts

One thing EDD emphasizes during the pandemic is that the agency is hiring.

“The way we receive funding for the unemployment insurance program is low when unemployment is low, as it was: it was at a record low just a couple of months ago in February and we suddenly had this massive increase,” Levy said.

Due to current unemployment rates, “massive” hiring efforts are underway, thanks to increased federal funding.

Call EDD

In terms of communicating with the EDD call center, long waiting times to communicate with a representative are not uncommon.

“It is much more difficult than we would like it to be,” Levy said. “We are working extremely long and exhaustive hours because we care so much about trying to get information from people in the midst of this truly historic event.”
Levy said it all comes down to math. The agency has a couple of thousand representatives who help with millions of calls in California.

Due to the problem, the agency is working to set up an online chat tool and hire more employees, Levy said.

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PUEC 13-week extension

Levy also referred to the CARES Act and the pandemic emergency unemployment compensation program, saying that the CARES Act has three provisions.

Those provisions include an additional $ 600 in stimulus payments for any week applicants qualify for benefits and a 13-week extension on a regular unemployment claim, Levy said.

The first phase of the extension will run May 27, Levy said.

“We are encouraging people to see how exactly that is going to work,” he said.

Californians can normally certify up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits in a 12-month period, so even during the COVID-19 pandemic, some may not be able to apply for benefits.

Under the 13-week extension, which will launch on May 27, Levy said, those who were previously not eligible for benefits could reapply.

Levy encourages Californians to monitor the EDD website for the latest updates.

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What happens if I go back to work and get fired again or my hours are cut?

As California begins to reopen, some employees may return to work for a short time, but what happens if you are fired or become unemployed again?

Levy said that you can continue to certify the number of hours you work each week and some weeks, you may not receive unemployment benefits because you are working full time.

But if your hours are reduced or if you stop working again, you can certify during those weeks and receive payment up to the 26 weeks you are eligible.

Where’s my EDD debit card?

Some may be receiving unemployment payments but have not received their debit card in the mail.

Levy said EDD cards are good for up to three years. So if you have received benefits in the last three years, your debit card will remain valid during the pandemic.

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“When you get to a new claim, what will happen is that when the benefits are approved, it will be posted on that EDD debit card if it’s still good within that three-year period,” he said.

If your card is missing, EDD has created a tool through Bank of America to replace your card.

If you have any questions or comments about the coronavirus pandemic, please submit yours via the form below or here.

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