SACRAMENTO May 9, 2009 - Up to 20 weeks of additional Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits will soon be on the way for an estimated 76,000 unemployed California workers who have run out of all other UI benefits. The state Employment Development Department (EDD) has completed the complex programming required to implement a third round of federal extension benefits known as the FED-ED program.
Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation providing the up-to-20 weeks of additional benefits on March 27 and EDD staff has been working around the clock to implement the FED-ED program. The department estimates about 469,000 Californians will be able to collect FED-ED extension benefits by the end of this year.
"Unemployment becomes a longer-lasting challenge in the midst of a recession like the one we are currently in, and these additional weeks of benefits will provide vital assistance to unemployed Californians, their families, and their communities," said EDD Director Patrick Henning. "The federally-paid FED-ED extension is expected to pump about $3 billion into the state economy through the rest of 2009."
EDD has identified an estimated 76,000 claimants who have exhausted their regular UI benefits and both their first and second extension of benefits since the February 22, 2009, start date for the FED-ED program. Most of those claimants recently exhausted their second extension and EDD staff will automatically file their FED-ED claims and send them claim forms in the mail to be completed and mailed back to the department. Claimants should receive these claim forms over the next week.
About 3,000 of the total eligible claimants exhausted all of their benefits prior to April 11. Because of the time lapse, they're being mailed a notification to apply for the FED-ED extension and verify for the department that they're still unemployed and eligible to receive further benefits. They will also receive extra claim forms for any back weeks of FED-ED benefits they may be owed.
Including the FED-ED extension, California workers can receive up to a total of 79 weeks of UI benefits. Ordinarily workers are eligible for a maximum of 26 weeks of UI benefits. A first and second federal extension of benefits was approved by Congress and signed into law last year, bringing the available total to 59 weeks. The FED-ED extension adds up to 20 weeks of benefits.
Payments under the FED-ED program cannot be made if someone is qualified first to file a new regular UI claim. In addition, the program carries more stringent requirements for claimants than other UI benefits, including:
* Providing a documented job search on their claim forms for each week of benefits they receive;
* Possibly accepting a minimum wage position if local labor market information shows prospects of obtaining work in their usual occupation within a short period of time are not favorable; and
* Accepting work if the weekly gross earnings offered equal or exceed their weekly UI benefit amount, excluding the extra $25 federal stimulus payment currently being added to each week of UI benefits.
Information about federally-extended benefits and regular UI claims is available on EDD's Web site at www.edd.ca.gov. You can also submit questions about the program and individual claims through the ContactEDD feature on the front page. A vast majority of unemployed workers should be able to file their claims and submit their questions or concerns online.
FED-ED payments are entirely federally funded under the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) for most employers, which means that employers will not be charged for any benefits paid to claimants on FED-ED extensions filed with an effective date on or before December 20, 2009. Governmental entities and federally-recognized Indian Tribes will be charged for 100 percent of FED-ED extension benefits paid.
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