California's Employment Development Department is making an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits available for individuals affected by COVID-19, the EDD announced Wednesday. The additional benefits are part of something called the Federal-State Extended Duration benefits program, or FED-ED, and are available only during times of prolonged unemployment.

In California, the unemployment rate is currently 16.3 percent, compared to 11.1 percent nationally.

What You Need To Know

  • California is making an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance available to those affected by COVID-19

  • Eligible claimants will be automatically enrolled in the extension

  • Claimants must continue to fill out biweekly certifications of their eligibility

  • California's unemployment rate is 16.3 percent, compared with 11.1 percent nationally

The additional benefits are possible because of a new budget package California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Monday, which makes the state eligible for additional unemployment funds from the federal government. 

Individuals hoping to receive the extended benefits need to meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify, however. The EDD states “a claimant must have earnings during the base period (four-quarter period of earnings) of their regular UI claim that exceed 40 times the weekly benefit amount or 1.5 times their highest quarter of total wages during the base period.”

Claimants must remain both able and available for work, as they do to maintain their regular unemployment benefits, according to the EDD. And they may need to accept different work options, including a position that pays less than what they have earned in the past.  

Effective July 1, the extension is being made available at a time when claimants may be running out of their current Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation extension benefits, which already provided an additional 13 weeks of unemployment money. People are eligible for the extension if they continue to be out of work or are working reduced hours.  

The EDD is currently looking through its system to see who is running out of the state’s pandemic benefits to automatically file a FED-ED extension on their behalf. Those individuals will be mailed a notice of eligibility and will need to continue filling out the usual bi-weekly certifications that determine their eligibility for payment.

Those who qualify for the FED-ED extension will receive the extra $600 stimulus payment provided through the federal CARES Act through July 25, 2020.