California to offer new weekly unemployment benefit of $ 300

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Millions of Californians who are out of work during the pandemic will soon receive additional weekly unemployment compensation of $ 300 retroactive to August 1, state officials said Thursday.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved California’s request for $ 4.5 billion to cover at least three weeks of additional benefits after a weekly payment of $ 600 expired last month.

The California Department of Employment Development will begin processing payments from eligible individuals and sending payments during the week of September 7, agency officials said Thursday.

“These benefits are essential for the basic safety of families and communities and for our economy, which have been so devastated by the virus and its financial impacts,” California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su said in a statement. communicated. “As we modernize and strengthen the state’s unemployment insurance benefit system, we will continue to take advantage of any additional resources made available by the federal government.

The $ 300 payment will be available to Californians who are currently eligible to receive at least $ 100 in weekly state unemployment benefits and have certified that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruption caused by COVID-19, according to the state’s employment development department.

As Congress deadlocked on a proposal to extend the previous $ 600 benefit, President Trump signed an executive order on August 8 allocating $ 44 billion of existing federal emergency funds to states to provide $ 300. per week.

California was on the 18e State to obtain approval from FEMA to participate in the program. It was set up to potentially run until December 27, but only the first three weeks have been allocated, with subsequent weeks depending on the availability of federal funds.

The amount of the payment and the possibility that funds may run out after three weeks relate to lawyers for the tenants, including George A. Warner, lawyer for Legal Aid At Work in San Francisco.

“The Trump administration’s lost wages assistance, which is not the same as unemployment insurance, leaves Californians and Americans down,” Warner said, calling $ 300 a week “d untenable for unemployed families given the devastating impact of COVID on the labor market. . ”

He said the requirement that unemployed people are entitled to $ 100 or more in weekly benefits excludes those who need help the most.

“These half-measures are hurting working families, our state economy and our communities. The program does not respond to the severity of the moment, ”Warner said.

He added that because the program is only guaranteed for three weeks, “it will take states far too much time, money and resources to implement at a time when they are already dealing with an unprecedented number of complaints.

State officials initially said their outdated computer system could take up to 20 weeks to be reprogrammed to handle the new federal allowance, but the program was streamlined by Washington.

Originally, federal officials talked about a formula in which states would match the $ 300 with $ 100 in public funds, but that requirement was relaxed to allow existing state unemployment to count towards the game.

Still, there are fears that low-income residents most in need of financial assistance may be excluded from the supplemental benefits program because it requires recipients to already receive $ 100 per week unemployed.

The announcement that applications will be processed from the week of September 7 came days after state lawmakers renewed criticisms of the EDD in a public hearing on the lingering issues that have left hundreds of thousands of unemployed Californians without benefits.

Members of the Assembly, including Democrat Adrin Nazarian of Los Angeles, said in a hearing on Monday that the agency had already experienced the same issues and was disappointed that the issues had not been resolved.

“We were extremely ill-prepared,” Nazarian told EDD director Sharon Hilliard during a hearing on Capitol Hill with an Assembly budget subcommittee on administration.

Hilliard told lawmakers that technological improvements have enabled the department to pay out billions of dollars in benefits, but she recognized that more needs to be done.

“It’s not acceptable,” Hilliard said of the current situation. “What we have been able to accomplish is quite incredible, but it is not enough.”

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