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New Developments on Federal Unemployment Extensions (Updated 11/30/2010)

Many unemployed workers may see new limits on unemployment benefits available due to federal extension deadlines

SACRAMENTOApproximately 454,000 people in California could experience a shortened total of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits available by the end of the year, and some may soon see an abrupt halt to their benefits, according to estimates from the United States Department of Labor. That’s the impact of current filing deadlines for federal unemployment extension benefits unless Congress quickly takes action to extend them.

The California Employment Development Department (EDD), which administers the UI program in California, is trying to make sure customers are aware that they may face a shortened supply of benefits than what they may have otherwise thought was available. Unless Congress takes further action, unemployment benefits will return to the maximum of up to 26 weeks of benefits on a regular state UI claim, instead of up to 99 weeks of benefits that have been available during the recession due to federal benefit extensions. “We at EDD understand how critical unemployment benefits can be to unemployed workers, their families, and the businesses in their communities. New limits on benefits, especially just before the holidays, can be very difficult,” acknowledged EDD’s Chief Deputy Director Pam Harris. “That’s why we are working to keep our customers informed of developments concerning federal unemployment extension benefits.”

Based on historical data, the EDD estimates that up to 150,000 of the 454,000 total are currently certifying for benefits as part of the separate extension of benefits known as the FED-ED extension here in California. EDD is currently preparing to send notices to these customers to advise them that California may no longer be eligible for the FED-ED extension once 100 percent federal funding ends. That would prevent EDD from paying any further FED-ED benefits even if a customer is still unemployed and has a remaining balance on that claim.

The impacts without further action from Congress to push back filing deadlines on federal extension claims include:

? More recently unemployed workers collecting on a regular UI claim of up to 26 weeks and running out of those benefits anytime after the week ending November 20, 2010, will not have access to any federal extension benefits.

? Those unemployed a little longer, currently collecting on a first, second or third tier of federal extension benefits and running out of that current tier of benefits anytime after the week ending November 27, 2010, will not be eligible to move into the next tier of extension benefits.

? Those currently collecting on the fourth tier of federal extension benefits and running out of those benefits anytime after the week ending December 4, 2010, will most likely not be eligible for the last extension of benefits known as FED-ED due to the pending end to the program in California.

? Those currently collecting on that last FED-ED extension of benefits will lose access to the remainder of their benefits. Unless Congress takes further action, the last payable week of FED-ED benefits will most likely be the week ending December 11, 2010, regardless of any remaining balance a customer may have on a FED-ED claim.

There are currently more than 1.4 million people in California certifying for UI benefits. Most claimants would be affected at one point or another by limits to the total of extension benefits available if no further congressional action is taken. How much of a limit they face or how quickly they could encounter an end to their benefits all depends on how long they’ve been unemployed and where they are in their claim.

Those more at immediate risk of experiencing disruptions in benefits are those who have either just run out of their regular UI benefits or current tier of extension benefits, or those who are nearing the end of such claims. EDD is maintaining a list of the claimants who have just run out of their regular UI benefits or one of the tiers of federal extension benefits.

In the event Congress eventually extends the filing deadlines, EDD will automatically file further extension claims for these customers and notify them of the additional benefits for which they might then qualify. However, while Congress may take further action in the future and extend the filing deadlines, there is no further discussion at this time about providing any additional weeks of benefits to the current potential 99-week maximum. As of November 29, 2010, approximately 254,000 unemployed workers in California have run out of all available unemployment benefits.

The EDD encourages our customers to closely monitor our Web site at www.edd.ca.gov for continuing developments on federal extensions. Customers can also sign up for our Twitter messages.

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11/30/10 3:00 p.m.
Updated: Number of individuals who have run out of benefits is now almost 254,000

Once again, filing deadlines for starting any new federal extension tier of unemployment benefits are fast approaching. Unless Congress takes action to extend the filing deadlines, many Unemployment Insurance (UI) customers will start experiencing a reduction in the number of benefit weeks available come December 2010. The House of Representatives did take up a bill on Thursday, November 18, 2010, proposing a 90 day extension of the filing deadlines. But the effort to get the bill passed was rejected by House members.

EDD will continue to monitor developments and provide updates on our Web site. In the meantime, here is some information about federal extensions and how the upcoming deadlines impact our UI customers.

For more than two years, an unprecedented offering of federal unemployment extension benefits have provided additional financial support to unemployed workers hit hard in this long, harsh recession. In addition to the up to 26 weeks of regular UI benefits offered any time an eligible worker becomes unemployed, up to 73 weeks of additional benefits have been available through four different tiers of extension benefits and a separate extension of benefits known in California as the FED-ED extension. All together, up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits have been available to help support unemployed workers, their families, and their communities.

It is now possible that the maximum amount of benefits available will be pared back to the regular 26 weeks of UI benefits offered by each state. This is due to the upcoming filing deadlines on federal extensions, unless Congress acts to push back those deadlines identified in the following chart:

CURRENT UI EXTENDED BENEFIT DURATION & CLAIM DEADLINES

UI Benefits Provided During This Recession
UI ClaimsMaximum Weeks of Benefits ProvidedDeadline for Starting This Type of UI Claim
Regular UI Claim Up to 26 weeks of benefits Once someone becomes unemployed
1st Tier of Federal Extension Up to 20 weeks of benefits November 21, 2010
2nd Tier of Federal Extension Up to 14 weeks of benefits November 28, 2010
3rd Tier of Federal Extension Up to 13 weeks of benefits November 28, 2010
4th Tier of Federal Extension Up to 6 weeks of benefits November 28, 2010
Separate FED-ED Extension Up to 20 weeks of benefits December 5, 2010*
POTENTIAL TOTAL MAXIMUM BENEFITS Up to 99 weeks of benefits  

*If California does not meet the unemployment rate threshold after the week ending December 11, 2010, the last effective date that a FED-ED claim may be filed will be December 5, 2010. The week of December 5 – 11 will be the last payable week of FED-ED benefits unless Congress takes further action to extend the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and continue fully funding FED-ED benefits.

Impacts on Unemployed Workers Currently Receiving Unemployment Benefits

  • If you are currently collecting on a regular UI claim that provides up to 26 weeks of benefits, and you run out of those benefits anytime after the week ending November 20, 2010, you will not be eligible for a first tier of federal extension benefits or any other extension benefits unless Congress takes further action.
  • If you are currently collecting on a first, second, or third tier of federal extension benefits and you run out of those benefits anytime after the week ending November 27, 2010, you will not be eligible to move into the next tier of extension benefits unless Congress takes further action.
  • If you are currently collecting on a fourth tier of federal extension benefits and you run out of those benefits anytime after the week ending December 4, 2010, you potentially will not be eligible to move into the separate FED-ED extension of benefits unless California meets the unemployment rate threshold or Congress takes further action.
  • If you are currently collecting on the separate FED-ED extension of benefits, eligibility will cease after December 5, 2010 with the end of 100% federal financing. Original rules governing FED-ED will once again be in place and California does not currently qualify for the FED-ED extension program under those rules. If California does not meet the unemployment rate threshold after the week ending December 11, 2010, the week of December 5 – 11 becomes the last payable week of FED-ED benefits. That’s unless Congress takes further action to extend the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and continue fully funding FED-ED benefits.

    That means even if someone will still have a remaining balance of the 20 weeks available on a FED-ED extension, no further weeks can be paid after the week ending December 11, 2010 if California does not meet the unemployment rate threshold. Affected customers will receive a notification in the mail regarding this pending end to FED-ED benefit payments.

Without further Congressional action, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates about two million people across the country will experience a decreased total of available benefits by the end of this year. Of this total, 454,000 are here in California.

No Impact for Customers who have Run Out of Maximum Benefits

Whether or not Congress decides to extend filing deadlines on federal extension benefits will not impact an estimated 254,000 unemployed workers in California who have already run out of all available benefits as of November 15, 2010. That maximum remains up to 99 weeks of benefits. Two bills were introduced in Congress that would add an additional tier of extension benefits to the maximum of 99 weeks. But there are no reports of any significant movement on the measures. EDD will be closely monitoring any developments on this issue.

Unemployed individuals may be eligible for assistance to meet basic needs as well as other services such as health care, counseling, employment and training assistance. For more information, read the Assistance for Unemployed California Residents flyer and the Job Dislocation Brochure: English | Spanish.

Impacts on Federal Stimulus Payments

If you are a claimant who qualified for the $25 stimulus payments, current federal law states the last week these stimulus payments can be made is the week ending December 11, 2010. Claimants who filed a new regular UI claim effective May 30, 2010 or after do not qualify for the $25 stimulus payments.

EDD is closely monitoring developments regarding the federal extension of unemployment benefits. We strongly encourage our customers to monitor the EDD Web site for updates, or sign up for our Twitter messages that advise you when new information is posted.

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