$300 weekly unemployment benefit extended for two more weeks

The EDD announced that those who qualify for the additional $300 weekly unemployment benefit, initially presented as a 3-week benefit, will get payments for 2 additional weeks. The department is also applying for a sixth week, which is the maximum amount currently available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Presidential Memorandum. 

The benefit was announced nearly a month after the federal $600 weekly benefit expired at the end of July, and Democrats and Republicans in Congress could not come to a consensus about a viable replacement. Unemployed people in California who qualify for at least $100 in unemployment insurance benefits per week received the first installment of $300 on September 7. 

The processing of these funds, called the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, has two phases: the first will cover those who said that they’re unemployed due to COVID-19, and the second will cover those who did not indicate they were unemployed due to a COVID-19 on their first unemployment application. 

“All first phase of LWA payments are scheduled to be completed in the next couple of weeks...After these Phase One and Phase Two payments of the $300/week are made, EDD will distribute the two additional weeks of LWA payments recently approved by the federal Government,” agency officials wrote in a release.

Critics of the program have pointed out that it excludes some of the poorest Americans—those who make less than $100 in unemployment benefits, which are calculated based on previous wages. Those people can include folks who have a limited work history, or are paid extremely low wages while working. 

For those who have applied for unemployment, but are experiencing issues and awaiting any funds at all, an additional $300 benefit is a tertiary concern. 

Daynice Desimone of Antioch, a longtime server, used to make a living working full time for her and her son. After the restaurant transitioned to take-out, which they had previously never offered, she found herself working only a fraction of the time she had before. 

She became financially strained and immediately applied for unemployment, as well as Medicaid and food benefits. 

“I filed back in March,” she said. “And something happened—I never received anything.”

Desimone suspects that there is an issue with identity fraud, which was raised to her both by an EDD agent and a local police officer who contacted her. But she hasn’t received any answers or any funds.

“I don't even want all my money at once,” Desimone said. “I just need my comfort bubble. You know, I work for a reason. And then trying to find a new job right now, that's a joke all in and of itself.”

At the end of August, there were 11 million more unemployed workers than job openings nationwide, according to Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute. 

Caroline Hart is a writer and producer with KTVU. She covers unemployment, inequality, food insecurity, senior care issues, breaking news, and much more. She can be reached at caroline.hart@foxtv.com.