Unemployment benefits: an additional $ 600 will start to flow this week

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States have had to wait for the Federal Department of Labor to issue guidelines on additional funds, which will be fully covered by the federal government. This guidance was published last weekend, a week after the bill was signed.

However, many states still do not have a timeline for implementing the new unemployment pandemic assistance program – which covers those who have lost their jobs or have had to stop working because of the coronavirus – because it requires further modification of their applications and systems.

The pandemic program extends the benefits of unemployment to independent entrepreneurs, concert economy workers and the self-employed, who are generally unskilled in many states – who are now struggling to determine who exactly is skilled workers and the documentation these workers will need.

New York to send enhanced benefits this week

Unemployed New Yorkers who already receive an unemployment check can expect to see the additional $ 600 this week, said a spokesperson for the Department of Labor. told CNN on Monday. Those filing new claims are expected to begin receiving both their state and improved federal payments in two to three weeks.

In Missouri, eligible unemployed residents are expected to start receiving federal benefits as early as the week of April 12, after the State Employment Security Division updates its technology and implements various procedures, the agency announced on Monday.

Meanwhile, Indiana plans to start sending the largest checks the week of April 20, said Fred Payne, commissioner of the state’s Department of Workforce Development, on Monday.

For Michelle Parks, the additional funds cannot come soon enough.

Indiana resident Michelle Parks is expected to start receiving improved unemployment benefits by April 20.

The mother of two from Pittsboro, Indiana was pulled from her job at a retailer in late March. State officials initially said the extra $ 600 may not appear in checks until May, which made her “extremely nervous” because her public benefit would be only $ 390 per week. She still has to pay more than $ 600 a month in health insurance premiums to maintain family coverage.

“I looked at my husband and said,” What are we going to do? How are we going to get there? “Said Parks, who wrote to his federal legislators asking for the delay. “There must be some kind of emergency here. It’s necessary right now. “

Parks, who said he was able to file his initial application online fairly easily in late March, was pleased to learn on Monday that he would receive federal benefits in about two weeks.

“April 20 is like a victory in this book,” she said. “It’s better than May. “

Other states, including Ohio, Oregon and Texas, are still working on the process of sending additional federal money, agency officials said. Some states will provide a single larger week check, while others may choose to send state and federal benefits separately.

Payments will be retroactive

The deployment comes at a time when states are overwhelmed by an unprecedented crush of people claiming benefits for the first time as large and small companies fire and lay off workers in the midst of the pandemic.

Almost 10 million Americans submitted initial applications in the last two weeks of March. But countless others were unable to contact state unemployment agencies and fulfill their requests.

But those who have not yet been able to file their initial applications should not lose out. The federal improvement will be paid retroactively to claims filed starting March 29 in most, if not all, states. Additional payments end on July 31 at the latest under current legislation.

Independent entrepreneurs and self-employed workers will have to wait longer

States are working to create online applications and update them back-end systems to begin enrolling unemployed residents in the pandemic response program. Although it builds on the existing Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program, it remains a big boost for many states as they generally do not provide unemployment benefits to independent contractors and the self-employed, who are now covered by federal relief.

“There is a huge difference between changing our current unemployment system or process to include the federal benefit of $ 600 for people who are already eligible and creating an entirely new system for a whole new class of covered workers,” said Payne.

Some of the new applicants wrote to CNN and complained on social media of their refusal. Many states encourage these residents to wait until new applications are posted online before submitting their applications.

The Department of Labor guidelines did not provide much detail on the documents that independent contractors and the self-employed could file to show their earnings in the past five quarters, which is the typical period on which benefits are based, said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst with the national employment bill.

But she suggests that they plan to use 1,099 tax documents, bank documents showing checks or deposits from employers, or income information from gig economy apps. Some workers, especially those who rely on tips, may simply have to attest to what they did.

In addition, some of these freelancers and contractors who have seen their jobs or income affected by the coronavirus may have to attest to why they had to stop working.

Some advocates are concerned that directives from the Labor Department are unclear and may end up excluding some of these workers.

For example, the guide provides an example of a carpool driver who is unable to continue working because a state or municipality restricts movement by an emergency order. In addition, the document lists a person who has had a positive coronavirus test as an example of who may be eligible. The fear among advocates is that those who do not meet these specific criteria may find themselves excluded in some states.

“I am concerned that some states will interpret this narrowly,” said Evermore, who hopes more information will be released.

In addition, some believe that the guidelines require too much documentation during a national emergency.

“More importantly, the guidelines require workers to go through significant paperwork to prove their eligibility, which will inevitably prevent workers from receiving the help they desperately need and should be able to access,” said Senator Ron. Wyden, Democrat from Oregon.

The Ministry of Labor did not return any requests for comment.

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