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Covid-19 Economic Crisis

Unemployment benefits California: how many people are still waiting and when will they receive it?

The economic fallout of covid-19 has seen the state's unemployment rate soar to 11% with many Californians left waiting months for benefit payments.

The economic fallout of covid-19 has seen the state's unemployment rate soar to 11% with many Californians left waiting months for benefit payments.
Rick WilkingREUTERS

A report into California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) has found a backlog of an estimated 1.1 million workers are still yet to receive unemployment benefits.

The EDD has drawn criticism for its handling of the covid-19 economic crisis which has overwhelmed the state’s unemployment agency. During the spring as the pandemic really began to take hold, the backlog of claimants was reported to be around 1.8 million.

Although the amount of outstanding unemployment benefits is shrinking the pace with which those funds are being distributed has begun to slow in recent weeks. The seven days leading up to 7 October saw a decrease of 14% and the figure fell by a further 10% for the following week. In the week ending 21 September the rate of decrease had fallen to just 8%.

When will California clear its unemployment benefits backlog?

As the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic spiralled it became clear that a new strategy was needed and the EDD decided in September to take a two-week “reset” period during which they would be accepting no further applications from first-time claimants.

Despite that break, the EDD’s Executive Director Sharon Hilliard announced that she expected it to take until the end of January for the remaining claimants to be paid.

“At this time, EDD anticipates eliminating the current backlog by January 27, 2020, and is proactively looking at ways to reduce that timeline,” she wrote in response to a report released by Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration. “Alternatively, if no changes were made, the EDD would still be working through the current backlog well into July 2021.”

How to check the status of your unemployment benefits claim

Now that the EDD is once again accepting new claimants many will be eagerly awaiting news about the status of their payments. The Californian agency offer an online portal where users can keep updated on the progress.

Anyone looking to either file a claim or check the status of an existing one can log into UI Online. Even if you have already lodged a claim you will need to sign up for Benefit Programs Online, making an online account on their website.

Details of the last payment issued to your account can be found on the homepage in the Claim Summary section, along with the associated claim balance.

It is also possible to get all that information over the phone using the agency’s self-service telephone system. The 24-hour phone line service is completely automated and can be reached on 1-866-333-4606.