SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 News' Kristen Sze spoke with Loree Levy with California's Employment Development Department Wednesday afternoon to discuss receiving unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the best time to call the department and a new extension program rolling out soon to help those who've run out of benefits.
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When is the best time to call the EDD?
Levy said generally the best time to get through the department is before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
The department is looking to hire 4,800 people to help with the influx of callers and unemployment applicants.
So far the EDD has brought 1,200 on board to help with the high volume of callers and applicants.
What happens if I max out my regular EDD benefits and the federal PEUC extension?
Levy said the EDD it soon rolling out the Fed-ED program, which according to the agency, extends claimants benefits for another 13 weeks once the Fed-ED period has been activated. The program is activated in each state when unemployment reaches a certain level.
If someone is eligible, Fed-ED benefits would be in addition to the regular unemployment benefits and the federal extension under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
The Fed-ED program benefits would be available once PEUC and regular benefits have been used.
Levy said more information will be announced beginning Thursday and into next week.
The Fed-ED program will begin processing applicants next week and it will be done automatically if applicants have maxed out their regular and PEUC benefits, Levy said.
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Certifying each week for unemployment benefits
If you have pending certifications with the EDD, Levy said more guidance will be coming out Thursday on how to correctly answer questions when certifying for benefits.
One of the certification questions asks applicants if they're too sick to work - many are mistakenly answering 'yes' simply because of the pandemic, which Levy said automatically disqualifies them for unemployment benefits.
Another certification question asks if the applicant has other reasons besides sickness or injury that makes them unable to work. Some answer yes just because of the pandemic.
Levy said you must be "able and available" to work to receive unemployment benefits.
What happens if I was furloughed and later laid off from work during COVID-19?
If you are furloughed from work, but later laid off from the job, keep certifying for unemployment benefits. There is no need to file a new claim if your status has changed, Levy said. Depending on the bi-weekly certification, the EDD may follow up with you with further questions.
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How long does it take to get an EDD debit card?
If an EDD claim has been paid, a new claimant can expect to receive a debit card within seven to 10 days
The payment will then post a day or two later, Levy said.
Watch the full interview above to hear more on filing for unemployment benefits in California.
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