Capitol dome Congress
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President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are hoping to pass $1.9 trillion of additional pandemic relief, including extra jobless benefits.
Still, many unemployed workers haven’t yet gotten benefit payments from the last stimulus package, which former President Trump signed more than a month ago.
States like California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana and Virginia haven’t issued that assistance to some groups of workers, according to their respective unemployment agencies.
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The $900 billion relief measure, passed in late December, extended unemployment benefits for 11 weeks and raised pay by $300 a week.
Many states have been issuing that aid to workers in phases, as they tweak their systems to account for various pieces of the legislation.
As a result, some groups have waited longer than others.
“The complexity of some of the additional specifications are challenging to program and will be an increased burden, not only on our [unemployment insurance] staff, but to claimants, as well,” Mark Butler, Georgia’s labor commissioner, said in January.
Some of those updates are ongoing, the Georgia Department of Labor said in a tweet Tuesday.
Biden’s plan would extend unemployment benefits through September and raise pay by $400 a week.
Exhausted unemployment benefits
Delays seem most common for workers who’d been collecting benefits since the early spring and “exhausted” their aid — meaning they hit the maximum number of weeks allowed under the CARES Act.
That federal law limited the duration of aid through two temporary programs: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which pays benefits to the self-employed and others who don’t qualify for typical state assistance; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which offered extra weeks of state benefits to the long-term unemployed.
It appears re-starting their benefits has taken longer than for other workers who hadn’t yet hit their maximum weeks.
Colorado, for example, began issuing aid to workers Monday — with the exception of workers who’d exhausted PUA and PEUC benefits.
The date for that “Phase 2 rollout” hasn’t yet been determined, according to a post on the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website.
Californians who’d exhausted benefits face a similar situation, according to a spokesperson for the Employment Development Department, who didn’t offer a timeline for system updates.
Virginia and Hawaii started paying those who’d exhausted PUA benefits, but not those who ran out of PEUC benefits for the long-term unemployed.
Hawaii will soon start paying those benefits, said William Kunstman, a spokesman for the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. He didn’t offer a specific timeline.