Unemployment benefits: what is 'retroactive certification' in California and how to get it?

Since the pandemic started, California's EDD has processed more than seven million claims, almost double the claims filed during the worst full year of the financial crisis of 2007 onwards.

Unemployment benefits: what is 'retroactive certification' in California and how to get it?

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to the economic shut down put in place in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As a result of those job losses the number of people relying on unemployment benefits from the state has soared.

Due to the huge number of claimants, as the economy in California reopened last month there are a significant number of people still waiting to get their unemployment benefits. And for some the delay in getting the benefit has been so extensive that that they have already returned to work before receiving their benefit and are now seeking retroactive payments to make up for what they’ve missed since late-March.

Worries over 'scam' letters from the Employment Development Department

What's more, many people are worried a notice they received from California's state Employment Development Department might be a scam. The letter asks for "Retroactive Certification." EDD Spokeswoman Loree Levy said that in April and May the department was receiving so many requests for unemployment that it was automatically approving some, knowing the department would have to go back and make sure those benefits were correct.

"We're required to get something that says, 'Yes, I am certifying to you that I'm eligible and I remain unemployed and ready to receive this next payment,'" Levy said. "We wanted to move forward and get those payments made, and come back and clean it up later."

Head to the EDD website to complete retroactive certification

Levy said that in the last four months the EDD has processed almost 7 million claims and paid nearly $40 billion in benefits. It is routine that if you are receiving state unemployment benefits, you are required to tell the EDD you are still eligible every two weeks. But when the state was expediting the unemployment process, they skipped the verification step. Now, it is going back and requiring a retroactive certification.

Levy says people are required to file this information, but if they aren't sure about the legitimacy of the email they should go right to the main EDD website. "We want people to be assured that it is us connecting with you," Levy said. "All the information there should just match up with what you have in your own records."

Levy says the department has people working seven days a week, both day and night, and even on holidays. She recommends people try to complete the process online. While EDD is adding 4,000 employees, Levy says getting through on the phone is still very difficult.