New $ 300 weekly federal unemployment benefits begin to reach Americans in need

But many whose benefits ran out last year will have to wait for their payments to restart. And freelancers, independent contractors, and certain people who are unable to work due to coronavirus restrictions must provide more proof of employment when submitting new applications or continuing their claims.

The pandemic unemployment expansion program extended jobless benefits to gig workers, freelancers, independent entrepreneurs, the self-employed, and certain people affected by coronavirus. The pandemic emergency relief program provided additional 13 weeks of payments to those who exhaust their regular government benefits.

Both programs close to new applicants on March 14, but continue through April 5 for existing applicants who have not yet reached the maximum number of weeks.

The implementation has begun

About half of states would have to pay a $ 300 weekly boost by the end of this week, said Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. This is in line with the experts’ expectation that it would take two to three weeks for many government agencies to reprogram the new measures in their systems.

Several states, including New York and California, moved quickly to get parts of the new law in place. The California Department of Employment Development, for example, has paid a total of $ 434 million in improved federal payments to more than 1 million applicants as of Tuesday.

In Georgia, nearly 167,000 out-of-work residents received their recently expanded pandemic benefits, and nearly 300,000 unemployed applicants received the additional $ 300 per year. Early January, the state agency said.

However, more than 239,000 Georgians who have exhausted pandemic benefits on or after December 26 will have to wait a few weeks to start the 11-week extension, though payments will be retroactive.

“We are pushing as fast as we possibly can,” said Kersha Cartwright, a spokeswoman for the agency.

In other states, unemployed residents have not yet received the benefits of the help package.

Dismissed Ohioers, for example, can neither file new applications for pandemic unemployment nor ongoing weekly claims at this time. The State Department of Job and Family Services expects those already approved to file by the third week in January. And it also expects to start issuing the $ 300 benefit.

New requirements for some archives

The latest assistance package requires those seeking pandemic unemployment benefits to submit additional documents supporting their employment or self-employment.

Last year, government agencies could simply accept certificates from applicants about their employment and income. But lawmakers tightened the rules, in part because the program, which opened up the unemployment system to many Americans who had never been eligible, has struggled with widespread fraud.

Unemployed people who apply for pandemic unemployment benefits by January 31 and receive a payment by December 27 or later must submit documentation to their state agency within 90 days, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Those who submit a new application on or after January 31st must submit the paperwork within 21 days.

Proof of employment may include pay slips, W-2 tax forms or earnings statements, while self-employment proof may include federal identification numbers, work licenses, tax returns or business receipts, the agency said.

Oregon, for example, is still waiting for more information about the new required documentation, among other program changes. The state agency does not yet know when it will start sending payments to people with new pandemic unemployment claims or to those whose benefits ran out last year.

States have some flexibility in documentation requirements and deadlines, Evermore said. However, this may widen the gap between states where some introduce strict guidelines and others less so.

In Georgia, it is the state agency that still determines the best way for unemployed residents to meet the documentation requirements, Cartwright said. The new rules place a heavy burden on government agencies to both collect and control the paperwork, she said.

“It will lower everything for everyone,” Evermore said.


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