State Senator Lena Gonzalez Hosts Telephone Town Hall on Unemployment Benefits and the CARES Act

12 Apr

California State Sen. Lena Gonzalez hosted a Telephone Town Hall, Friday, April 10, featuring Congressman Alan Lowenthal and George Warner of Legal Aid at Work on unemployment benefits and on the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

Gonzalez, who represents the 33rd California Senatorial District, emceed.

Warner, who is a fellow with the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid at Work, said people should apply by fax, mail or online for unemployment insurance even if they are unsure whether they qualify.  He encouraged people to apply online and said it would take at least 21 days from applying to get their benefits. 

Warner, who graduated from Stanford Law School in 2017, according to the Legal Aid at Work website, said for those who do not qualify for unemployment, they may qualify for the new federal program that is administered by the states, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

He said, “If you’re still employed and you or a family member is sick or needs preventive care, including if a public authority or doctor has recommended self-isolation or quarantine, you can use paid sick leave.  Every worker in California should have access to at least three paid sick-days a year, local laws may provide more, including if you work in Los Angeles or a hotel worker in Long Beach.”

“Additionally, effective April 1, federal law took effect, if you work for a company of less than 500 employees, you’re eligible for an additional 80 hours or 10 days of paid sick leave for issues related to the coronavirus.  These paid sick days are paid by your employer but are reimbursed by the federal government…There is no cost to your employer for those additional sick days and you can use those federal-paid sick days if you can’t work, because you are sick, because a family member is sick or because you are taking care of a child who is home from school.”

Congressman Alan Lowenthal, who represents the 47th Congressional District, discussing the $2 trillion CARES Act, said, “In the bill were $300 billion for direct cash payments to individuals, which means that if you filed taxes either in 2018 or in 2019 or if you are on Social Security and we know where you live that we’ve been sending payments…Those that have direct deposits will receive their checks first.  Those that receive their checks either from the IRS or from Social Security that are mailed they will be probably sent out within the next two weeks.

“You are going to get $1200, an individual, and if you earned up to $75,000 and then it’s taxed at $99,000.  So, if you earned more $99,000, you will not receive a check… If you are a family of four (two adults, two children), each spouse will get $1200 and each child will $500 for a total of about $3400.” 

The congressman added the IRS will be setting up a web-based portal to claim payments for those who have not filed taxes and IRS does not have either direct deposit information or mailing information; he stated the IRS would not contact a possible recipient and if people did not receive their money, people must use the portal.

The congressman said about $375 billion were allocated for small businesses in grants.  One is emergency grants of $10,000 to a small business; he said these must be paid back; according to National Public Radio, these are “to cover immediate operating costs.”  A second is what’s called the “Paycheck Protection Program,” which are forgivable, if “75 percent or more is used to keep current employees on the payroll for the next eight weeks.”  He added this program’s funding is being spent fast with $100 billion gone in the first four days of the $350 billion allocated and that these are first come, first served loans.”

The state senator said, “The state legislature…about three weeks ago enacted emergency funds for $1.1 billion in fact to ensure that we tackled local government issues relative to homeless services, our seniors, ensuring our health system service was upgraded, all related to Covid-19.  She added 2 million people in California have applied for unemployment insurance.

People may telephone Legal Aid at Work at 415-404-9093 to make an appointment and may visit its at website at

People wishing to apply for unemployment insurance online, they should go to or wishing more information on pandemic unemployment assistance, they should go to

People may hear the Telephone Town Hall below.

One Response to “State Senator Lena Gonzalez Hosts Telephone Town Hall on Unemployment Benefits and the CARES Act”

  1. erinmichelle513 Tuesday, April 14, 2020 at 10:02 am #

    Hi Barry! Hope this email finds you doing well, or as well as to be expected in these strange times. Thank you for sharing this piece. I appreciate the information you gathered! I was wondering, are you open to republishing your article?

    Please let me know when you get a chance!

    Thank you, Erin Foley


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