By Julie Watts


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Most of the more than one million Californians who have applied for unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic know that their state unemployment check won’t entirely replace their paycheck.

However, the federal stimulus plan may be about to change that. On Wednesday, Governor Newsom clarified that the federal stimulus will supplement state unemployment benefits.

Californians who qualify for unemployment generally get 60-70% of their paycheck — up to a maximum of $450 a week.

The proposed federal stimulus package would add another $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits for up to four months, totaling up to $1,050 a week for unemployed Californians who also get the maximum benefit from the state.

You can run your numbers on the EDD’s unemployment calculator.  It’s not as simple as dividing your gross annual income by 52 weeks. The EDD estimates benefits by dividing your highest paid quarter and giving you a percentage of that.

For example, for someone who makes around $65,000 a year, about $5500 a month pre-tax, the EDD calculator estimates that a person would receive the full benefit amount of $450 a week, which is less than their normal pre-tax pay. However, if you add the full $600 from the feds, that same person would be getting $1,050 a week on unemployment which could exceed their normal net paycheck.

Keep in mind, EDD unemployment payments are exempt from state taxes and it’s possible there will be federal tax exemptions too so some could actually net more than their normal pay after deductions.

CBS13 reached out to the EDD and sources on Capitol Hill, and so far no one can say if lower-income earning Californians would get the full $600 federal unemployment if it means they may net more their normal weekly paycheck.

The EDD did say, “It’s possible that an eligible worker’s weekly benefits on the states’ regular UI programs will increase higher than they’ve ever been before.”

However, even with the increased federal unemployment, it is still unlikely the benefits will replace a full paycheck for many Californians.

READ ALSO: Coronvirus: Unemployment Help for the Self-Employed

It is important to note that even self-employed Californians will be entitled to the $600 per week in federal unemployment even though they are not normally eligible for unemployment from the state.

There is also the possibility of Disaster Unemployment Assistance for the self-employed in California which, according to this fact sheet from the state, “is generally available to any unemployed worker or self-employed individual who lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in the disaster area at the time of the disaster.”

The EDD told CBS13 that it is still waiting on more guidance from the federal government on whether the state will be able to offer additional benefits for self-employed Californians who don’t otherwise qualify for state unemployment benefits.

UPDATED: This story originally included additional hypothetical weekly pay totals based on calculations from the EDD. Net pay varies greatly from person to person based on county, household income, withholdings and other variable deductions . This story has been updated to clarify the gross/net pay calculations for average Californians. 

Julie Watts

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