- Go straight to: Where to find help if your pandemic federal benefits have ended
Around Labor Day, up to 2.2 million Californians lost federal benefits established to help get them through the pandemic.
But plenty of people still haven’t found work. Some also have circumstances that are keeping them out of the job market, like not wanting to send their unvaccinated kids back to school, or worrying about contracting COVID in the workplace.
If you're reading this because your pandemic federal benefits expired earlier this month, we should say up-front: there are not a huge amount of options available to you right now.
But if you have worked at some point during the pandemic, there are a few things you can do to maximize the benefits you can claim. Not least because some Californians are still eligible for regular unemployment and should continue to certify for benefits, according to the Employment Development Department (EDD).
And if you haven’t, there are still a number of state programs you may be entitled to, to help bridge certain gaps right now.
Keep reading for our guide to help you figure the paths open to you.
Which of my unemployment benefits have actually expired?
Back on Sept. 4, the following federal unemployment benefits established by the CARES Act expired:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): The federal program that supported business owners, independent contractors and self-employed workers. (If you only got a 1099 tax form, this was likely the program you were on.)
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): The federal program for people who were on regular unemployment but exhausted those funds.
- Pandemic Additional Compensation (PAC) (also known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC): The program that paid $300 in federal unemployment compensation on top of a claimant's current weekly benefit amount for weeks of unemployment between December 27, 2020, and September 4, 2021.
- Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC): The program that paid an additional $100 per week in supplemental unemployment benefits to claimants who received regular unemployment or extension benefits and earned self-employment income in the year before their claim.
Also available was Federal-State Extended Duration (FED-ED), the federal program for people who had exhausted both regular unemployment insurance and PEUC funds. Some people had remaining weeks of FED-ED eligibility, but these payments also expired Sept. 11.
Why these federal benefits were created, and who's being left out, according to advocates
These now-expired pandemic unemployment benefits were created as temporary emergency payments and extensions, and some of them were intended to bridge gaps for people who don’t qualify for regular unemployment, like gig workers and the self-employed.
In the lead-up to their expiration, some advocates pointed out that the absence of preexisting unemployment support nets for these workers highlights glaring holes in the system that still need filling.
"'Why is it OK for those folks to be excluded from the program when it's not a pandemic?' is a question we need to ask ourselves," said Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.
"And if we can figure out how to make it work during a pandemic to cover them, we need to be covering them all the time."
I'm on regular unemployment. Where do I stand?
According to an EDD release from early September, the agency estimates around 500,000 Californians are still on regular state unemployment insurance — just without the $300 federal PAC supplement they used to get.
EDD uses what they call a 'base period' to calculate your benefits and whether you are eligible for benefits in general. See the earning requirements for establishing a valid claim.