California Unemployment Benefit Extension – Another 20 Weeks

by Mike Holman

California currently has an unemployment rate of 12.5% which is one of the highest in the country. Given that it is the most populous state it also stands to reason that California has the highest number of unemployed people living there.

Like every other state, Californians have benefitted from the numerous unemployment benefit extensions that have been created by the federal government. The latest extension provided by bill H3548 will give long-term unemployed Californians an extra 20 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Because of this recent extension the maximum number of benefit weeks available for someone in California is now 99 weeks.

California unemployment benefits are as follows:

  • EUC Tier 1 – 20 weeks  (7 weeks plus 13 weeks)
  • EUC tier 2 – 14 weeks (used to be 13)
  • EB  – 20 weeks
  • EUC tier 3 (new with bill H3548) 13 weeks or 19 weeks (if unemployment rate is greater than 8.5%)

However the extra 20 weeks is divided into 3 parts. 1 week is added to Tier II EUC. 13 weeks are Tier 3 and 6 weeks are Tier 4. Since the latest extensions are set to expire on Dec 31, 2009 it will be virtually impossible for anybody to receive the last 6 weeks.

“How many of those 20 additional weeks you get depends on when you started your claim and the upcoming eligibility deadlines,” says Loree Levy, a spokesman for the California Employment Development Department. Under the deadlines as they now stand, it’s unlikely that anyone in California would get the final six weeks, she says.

It is very possible that Congress will revisit this issue before the end of the year and extend the expiry date so that the full extensions can be utilized.

There are currently thousands of people who have run out of benefits or will run out in the coming months:

Loree Levy, spokesperson for California’s Employment Development Department, said Monday that an estimated 92,000 residents had exhausted all of their available unemployment by the end of October, and roughly 285,000 will be eligible for the newly enacted benefits by the end of the year. Whether they can get 20 weeks or only 14, though, depends on whether Congress extends the filing deadline.

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