President Trump ordered an interim replacement of $ 300 per week last month through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but it has been slow to get started and only has funds for a few weeks.
Eighteen states have started making the payments, said Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. “It would have been so much easier and faster if Congress had passed an extension,” she said.
At the same time, the unemployment pandemic assistance program is attracting millions of beneficiaries – and claims some are abusing it.
A California official said the state suspected that much of the recent increase in claims under the program was the result of fraud and was investigating “unscrupulous attacks” that took advantage of identity theft and other system vulnerabilities.
The program, created as part of pandemic relief efforts implemented in March, aims to help on-demand workers, part-time workers, independent contractors and self-employed workers. In the week ending Aug. 22, 14.6 million people were receiving benefits under the program, and almost half were in California, the Department of Labor said.
California Department of Employment Development spokeswoman Loree Levy said the state is “aggressively fighting” fraud in the program. “We suspect that much of the recent unusual increase in PUA claims is related to fraud,” she said.
Ms Levy said the state is suspending or closing claims that match suspicious patterns and is working with local and federal authorities to expose and prosecute violators.