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Californians can get $300 extra a week in unemployment benefits -- for now

Tanu Henry | California Black Media 

On July 25, the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program ended for most states, leaving millions of Californians without the extra cash many of them had been relying on for months to make ends meet.  The $600 extra in federal stimulus pay was added cushion to the amount states already provide for their residents in unemployment insurance payments. Created for Americans who lost their jobs due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the program was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act, which was signed into federal law in March.  Then, last week, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved California’s application to participate in the federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program -- funding that President Donald Trump authorized by memorandum Aug. 8. The LWA program provides $4.5 billion to California from which $300 extra in unemployment insurance benefits will be paid to individuals for three weeks.  “Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have sought to maximize federally funded unemployment benefits to Californians. These benefits are critical for the basic security of families and communities and for our economy, which have been so devastated by the virus and its financial impacts,” said California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su after the EDD’s announcement.  To qualify, unemployed Californians would have to already be eligible to receive at least $100 each week in unemployment benefits and they would have to provide proof that their job loss resulted from the coronavirus crisis. 

Although the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a fifth stimulus bill, the $3-trillion-dollar ‘‘Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the Senate has not brought it up for debate or vote. That bill includes an extension of