New rules means more eligible for retroactive EDD benefits; others need to return overpayments

ByMichael Finney and Renee Koury via KGO logo
Thursday, October 13, 2022
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The EDD is trying to pay workers who are newly eligible for benefits - and trying to take money back from those who got benefits they didn't deserve.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The EDD giveth and EDD taketh away. It's trying to get money into the right hands and out of the wrong hands. So, thousands may get a big bonus just before the holidays. Others may get a bill.

The EDD is trying to find about 50,000 more workers who may be entitled to pandemic benefits they never received -- including that $600-per-week bonus given out in 2020.

"The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program was so generous. It had the regular UI benefits plus, of course, the additional for a good amount of time in 2020 -- the additional federal benefit of $600. So, yeah, could be a significant amount," said former EDD director Michael Bernick.

The reason? The U.S. Labor Department has expanded the pool of workers who are eligible for pandemic benefits -- yes, two years later.

RELATED: The Fed says unemployment will rise. Here's who economists say would lose their jobs first.

It now includes:

  • Workers who did not return to jobs due to unsafe COVID conditions.
  • School workers whose hours were reduced
  • And employees who were laid off due to COVID but did not qualify for regular benefits.

Those workers will get notices inviting them to apply for benefits retroactively.

But as the EDD tries to give out money to some, it's also trying to get money back from others.

RELATED: EDD battle against disability fraud blocks pay for Bay Area dad with deadly cancer

"It is a weird balancing act in two directions," Bernick said.

The EDD has identified nearly $9 billion dollars paid to claimants who may not have deserved it.

Some of that money likely went to fraudsters, who are already blamed for stealing about $20 billion dollars from the EDD.

But much of it went to workers who may have been paid too much, possibly by mistake. Others simply failed to provide all the required documents to prove they were eligible.

RELATED: EDD wrongly denies hundreds of thousands of CA unemployment claims every year, report shows

Thousands of Californians are getting notices asking them to provide the needed paperwork -- or else give the money back.

However, the EDD said it will not require paybacks from those who made honest mistakes -- or in cases of financial hardship.

"People call me and they're worried, oh, has EDD found something out about me? Or is EDD tracking me or so forth? I tell them, no, these are going out to hundreds of thousands of unemployment insurance recipients," Bernick said.

Either way, look at your online EDD account or in your mailbox. You may see an invitation to apply for money, or a warning you might owe money back. If you got one of those, 7 On Your Side can assist you if you need help.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.

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