COVID-19 EDD Reset

The Employment Development Department (EDD) has is doing a two week reset period starting September 19. 2020 to help expedite new claimant payments, reduce fraud and tackle backlog issues.  The reset period is in response to the EDD Strike Team report. The Strike Team found that there are 591,016 backlogged initial claims, and over a million claims where claimants received payments and then payments stopped.

During the two week reset period, people attempting to apply for unemployment insurance for the first time will be directed to a temporary webpage where they can submit information so EDD can invite them back to EDD Online when it is ready.  New claims will be backdated to cover the reset period.  Claimants will be able to certify for benefits more quickly so that eligible claimants will get their first payment within 21 days. People who have existing claims will still be able to use UI Online to manage their claim.

During the reset period, EDD will implement a new identity verification tool called ID.me.  People will be required to upload identifying identification documents along with along with a self-photo that EDD will validate. In addition, the most experienced EDD staff will redirected to work through the oldest and most complicated cases. Staff will also be redirected to process mail and email, and will call claimants to request additional information.

EDD will also expand the capability of the document upload feature for mobile devices, and will allow for providing wage information and filing military and federal employee claims online.  (EDD News Release 20-49, September 19, 2020.)

COVID-19 Information about Lost Wage Assistance, change to certification form and fraud changes

The Employment Development Department (EDD) has issued information about Lost Wage Assistance (LWA), change to certification form and fraud reporting.  LWA is the temporary $300 per week benefit pursuant to presidential executive order.  EDD is paying LWA benefits based on the order in which EDD received certification forms for Unemployment Insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for the three week period July 26 to August 15.  People who have certified for those weeks that their full or partial unemployment is because of COVID-19 will receive LWA payments first.  Claimants must also have a weekly benefit award of at least $100 per week to be eligible for LWA.

Claimants who submitted their certification for all three of those weeks at the same time will receive one lump sum check of $900.  Claimants who did not submit their certification for all three of those weeks at the same time will have their payments split in two depending on when certifications for those three weeks was submitted.

Starting September 15, EDD will start accepting self-attestations for claimants who had not yet verified that their full or partial unemployment was because of COVID-19 (phase 2).  EDD will be sending email, texts or mailed notices advising claimants to complete the self-attestation online through their UI Online account or to mail a paper form.

After phase 1 and phase 2 payments are made, EDD will distribute two more weeks of LWA payments.  More information will be coming about when to expect these additional two weeks of benefits.  California has requested a 6th week of LWA benefits contingent on availability of federal funds.  EDD will issue additional information if this is approved.

EDD has issued a new certification form for people receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  The new form requires PUA recipients to attest each week that they are unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19.

EDD will no longer automatically backdate new PUA claims because of fraud concerns.  To backdate a PUA claim, claimants can submit an online inquiry through AskEDD, select Unemployment Insurance, the claims question subcategory, and then the topic backdate the effective date of my claim due to COVID-19.  Claimants can also speak to a representative by calling 833-978-2511 or other numbers listed on the Contact EDD page.

People who are concerned that fraud is occurring on their EDD account can send any fraudulent documents to EDD investigators at P.O. Box 826880, MIC 43, Sacramento, CA 94280-0225.  (EDD News Release 20-46, September 10, 2020.)

COVID-19 CalWORKs Welfare-to-Work guidance

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued continued guidance regarding the impact of COVID-19 on CalWORKs Welfare-to-Work (WTW).

Counties should exercise discretion regarding optional documentation and verification in order to continue providing WTW services and supports.

Counties can issue temporary blanket good cause for not meeting WTW requirements.  This includes all initial engagement activities, all assessments and evaluations, completion or maintenance of a WTW plan and WTW participation.

Counties are encouraged to serve clients remotely through distance learning activities.  CDSS has partnered with Cell-Ed to provide customizable distance learning options.  (See ACIN I-55-20.)

Sanctioned clients may now have good cause not to participate or who have a cure plan with activities that are no longer available.  For those clients, counties should implement cure plans documenting that the activity that the client failed to do is not available because of COVID-19.  The cure plan can specify an alternative activity such as reviewing orientation materials or conducting job search online.  When assigning another activity is not practical or feasible because of COVID-19, counties may implement cure plans stating the lack of available activities and that the client temporarily has good cause not to participate.

Counties cannot cure all sanctioned participants because of COVID-19. Clients must sign a cure plan.  Counties are encouraged to issue pre-populated sanction sure plans for individuals to sign without solicitation from the client.  Counties should consider telephonic, electronic or mail-in signatures.  For counties that cannot accept electronic or recorded telephonic signatures, counties must enter a case not stating the individual attested to the information provided.

For clients who are in noncompliance but are not yet sanctioned, counties should make all attempts to avoid imposing sanctions by offering other available and appropriate activities, or by applying good cause.

Counties can continue subsidizing wages in the Expanded Subsidized Employment program even when the worksites are closed because of COVID-19.

CalWORKS Work Study subsidies can continue where work hours are reduced, worksites are closed or students are otherwise unable to meet work study obligations because of COVID-19.  For example, the subsidy may continue when students are unable to work because of lack of supportive services, such as when the student’s child care provider is closed because of COVID-19.  The subsidized payment can be made directly to the CalWORKs recipient, or through the employer or third-party payor if they are able to issue subsidized wages to the recipient.  (All County Welfare Directors Letter, September 1, 2020.)

COVID-19 treatment of Lost Wages Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding treatment of Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) and Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).  LWA is $300 per week issued to persons who are unemployed or partially unemployed because of COVID-19 and are eligible for at least $100 per week in unemployment insurance.  LWA is being issued pursuant to Presidential Memorandum dated August 8, 2020.

LWA is not considered income for purposes of CalWORKs, Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP).  LWA is exempt because it is assistance issued under the Stafford Act.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is also not counted as income for purposes of CalWORKs, Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP) because it is assistance issued under the Stafford Act.   (ACWDL, September 10, 2020.)

COVID-19 reinstatement of IHSS overtime violations

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has reinstated overtime and travel time violations for IHSS providers that were suspended because of COVID-19.

In ACL 20-32, CDSS stated that overtime and travel time violations incurred while performing services that were in critical need because of the COVID-19 state of emergency would be removed.

Effective September 1, 2020, violations for exceeding overtime and travel time limits are reinstated.   Going forward, counties should use the process in ACL 16-46 to determine requests to rescind overtime and travel time violations for services that are necessary because of COVID-19.  Counties can override overtime violations if: 1) the additional hours are necessary to meet an unanticipated need; 2) the additional hours are related to an immediate need that could not be postponed until a backup provider arrives; and 3) the additional hours are related to a need that would have a direct impact on the IHSS recipient and would have been needed to ensure their health or safety.

COVID-19 may require IHSS providers to work additional hours of overtime.  These hours may fall under the above criteria. Counties should consider such situations when determining whether to override an overtime or travel time violation.   (ACL 20-103, September 8, 2020.)

COVID-19 extension of COVID-19 time on aid exemption

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding extension of the CalWORKs 48-month time on aid clock because of COVID-19.  In Executive Order N-75-20, Governor Newsome extended the exemption of months receiving CalWORKs counting on the 48-month time on aid clock until July 1, 2020, or when the state of emergency ends, whichever is sooner.  The exemption does not apply if the family will exceed the federal 60-month time on aid limit.

The executive order only extends time on aid for months in which CalWORKs aid are services are received.  Former CalWORKs recipients who were discontinued for meeting the 48 month time on aid limit must be eligible for a time limit extender to be added back to an assistance unit.   (ACWDL, August 31, 2020.)