800,000 California workers face unemployment payment delays – Daily News

on Mar25
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Hundreds of thousands of California workers face delays of more than a month in many cases for their unemployment payments while a state labor agency attempts to launch a new federal program, officials said Wednesday.

Potentially 800,000 California workers face delays through the end of April in receiving payments of unemployment benefits issued by the state Employment Development Department.

Since the spike in unemployment in March 2020, the EDD has struggled to swiftly reprogram its outmoded computer systems to accommodate federally approved payment enhancements to regular state jobless benefits.

In this case, the federal government recently approved extra payments of $300 a week on top of a worker’s regular state unemployment benefits.

The looming delays — which could last until April 30 for many workers — affect people with two categories of unemployment claims that they have filed with the EDD.

An estimated 53% of the 1.4 million people who have Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claims will see their payments start to be phased in between April 10 and April 30, according to a release Wednesday from the EDD. An estimated 47% of the PEUC claimants will continue to collect benefits without interruption, “if eligible,” the EDD said.

The EDD 47% estimate means that 53% of the 1.4 million — or 742,000 workers — face interruptions in their benefit payments.

An estimated 5% of another 1.2 million people who are collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits also face delays. The EDD said that 95% of the PUA claimants should experience no delays.

If the EDD estimate of 5% holds true, that would suggest that 60,000 workers receiving PUA benefits might have to endure unwelcome delays.

“The remaining 5% that exhausted all PUA benefits will be getting texts, UI Online notifications, or mailed notices by April 10, 2021, if not sooner, about when to certify for benefits,” the EDD said Wednesday.

Starting in March 2020, the EDD has been buried in an avalanche of unemployment claims that it has struggled to pay on a timely basis. The results have been uneven at best.

Unemployment claims skyrocketed after California workers lost their jobs in record numbers because of business shutdowns ordered by state and local government agencies to curb the coronavirus’ spread.

California workers seeking government assistance have encountered a bureaucratic maze of obstacles that include a broken phone center, a glitch-hobbled computer system, suspended benefit payments, and fraud.

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