For Californians who have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits for this year, additional help has recently become available.

On May 27, funds became available from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which aims at expanding unemployment benefits to workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PEUC program is the third prong in the expansion of unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, and provides a temporary extension of state benefits for up to 13 weeks.

The other programs are the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which has provided eligible individuals an additional $600 per week in benefits from March 29 to July 25, and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expands unemployment benefits to eligible business owners, independent contractors, self-employed workers, freelancers, gig workers and other who were previously ineligible for benefits.

For those who received their last unemployment payment on or after March 21 and are still within their benefit year, the 13-week extension will be applied automatically, and recipients will be notified. Others will have to reapply for unemployment insurance to receive the extension. The program will take effect retroactively to March 29.

“(PEUC) provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits for people receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits between March 29 and December 26, 2020,” according to the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) website. “California provides up to 26 weeks of UI benefits depending on the amount of your earnings during the four-quarter period on which your claim is based. The CARES Act extends benefits to a total of 39 weeks.”

As unemployment reaches record levels, the EDD has had difficulty processing unemployment insurance applications. The agency recently announced that it is currently undertaking a mass hiring effort to bring on 1,800 additional staff to bolster unemployment insurance services.

“As of the week ending May 16, the EDD has processed over 5.1 million claims for unemployment benefits and paid more than $16.1 billion in benefits to workers in need since the pandemic began,” a May 27 press release states.

In applying for unemployment benefits, the EDD recommends that, “If you are still unsure of your eligibility or what to apply for, apply anyway as soon as you are out of work or had your hours reduced. Complete the application as best you can, and we will follow up with you as soon as possible.”

To apply for unemployment benefits, visit edd.ca.gov.

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Reporter

Noah Berner has lived in Calaveras County most of his life, and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in history.

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